9 Best Legumes For Diabetes, based on Glycemic Index

Last Updated on March 23, 2022 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD

Cereals legumes are a part of popular food culture in many parts. Legumes are a good source of protein, carbohydrates, and minerals, especially iron, preventing developing type 2 diabetes mellitus. They contain phenolic compounds that have antioxidant potentials (antioxidative capacity). Consuming them regularly can protect you from severe oxidative stress with its antioxidants properties.

These starches can bind to an area on glucose receptors known as GLUT-5 (the insulin receptor), so they do not get absorbed into the bloodstream; instead, they remain in your gut, where they act.

People who regularly eat legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Legumes can also help people with type 2 diabetes manage their blood glucose levels as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

We’ve compiled below a list of the nine best legumes suitable for diabetes with their respective low glycemic index.

Veggie causing Diabetes

9 Best Legumes for Diabetes Based on Glycemic Index

The GI rating provides an estimate that shows how fast blood glucose levels increase after eating, regardless of whether the food is high or low in glycemic load.

To achieve glycemic index (GI) targets, low-energy vegetable and protein foods are recommended. Legumes have a low GI index rating score that makes them appropriate for glycemic control in individuals with diabetes mellitus type 2.

Legumes, a low-energy, nutrient-dense, and low glycemic index food, have beneficial glycemic control.

1 – Pinto Beans

Glycemic Index of Pinto Beans: 39


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Like navy, kidney, and black beans, Pinto beans are spotted legumes from the Phaseolus vulgaris scientific family. Pintos are a common ingredient in Mexican recipes and are indigenous to Central and South America. Their rich iron, potassium, and magnesium contents must have contributed to their usefulness as humans migrated northwards from central Mexico. Pintos grow in pods that have been used for many years by the Aztecs as food next to their crops.

Pinto beans are low glycemic index foods with a GI rating of 39(24), making them a favorable choice for individuals seeking to control blood glucose levels through diet-drug treatment (25 ).

Pinto Beans are a good choice as they contain high levels of Vitamin C, which contributes to several factors promoting good glycemic control.

2 – Kidney Beans

Glycemic Index of Kidney Beans: 24

The common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) is the seed variety of the kidney bean, and it’s named after the kidney-shaped look and color. Kidney beans provide an array of incredible health benefits. When cooked, these beans take on the color and flavor of whatever spices they are cooked with. They are reddish-brown in hue and have a mild flavor. Kidney beans contain lots of fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates. They are known to lower cholesterol levels in the blood by inhibiting an enzyme that breaks down lipid compounds in food into essential fatty acids (26).

Kidney Beans also offer glycemic benefits since they have a high quantity or crude fiber content – 18g per cup [1/2 can=150 grams] compared with pinto beans at 21g of Fibre [there is a difference in % of both beans – which is the reason why Fiber and BCM have to be given separately].

3 – Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans

Glycemic Index of Garbanzo Beans/Chickpeas: 28

Chickpeas help stabilize blood sugar levels, promote colon health, and decrease the risk of colon cancer. They are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, such as molybdenum, folate, iron, copper, manganese, and potassium. Chickpeas also have a high concentration of dietary fiber for diabetic patients.

These garbanzo beans also contain fiber which slows down the absorption of sugar into the blood and other nutrients that can keep glucose levels in check. Beans are also a good source of protein and vitamins A, B complex group (thiamine), C, E, potassium, and magnesium minerals. A cup of garbanzo beans also contains approximately 40 calories, 6 g fat (mostly monounsaturated), 5 g sugars, and 450 mg sodium.

Garbanzo Beans are a complete protein source containing all nine essential amino acids plus L-proline to round out the profile required for optimal intake from food alone or by bodybuilders who may not be engaging in ideal protein consumption.

4 – Black Beans

Glycemic Index of Black Beans: 20

The beans are high in protein and contain soluble fiber, which is essential to lower blood glucose levels and keep your diabetes stable; black beans are a good option for diabetics. Black beans also have vitamin B complex, folate, and copper, which help prevent aging by improving the quality of skin cells that help fight wrinkles from forming on the face. Black beans contain 35 grams of protein and 5 g fat (including 2g saturated), 240 calories, 276 mg sodium. Black Beans are a good source of dietary fiber, which helps lower blood glucose levels in conjunction with the soluble fiber and is high in potassium that can help control fluid retention if you have diabetes or hypertension to prevent edema.

Black beans also contain the B12 vitamin needed by growing children and pregnant women. It allows active enzymes to use energy by increasing the amount of glucose released during cellular respiration. If black beans are regularly consumed, they can trigger insulin secretion, which helps improve post-prandial concentrations even in non-diabetic patients or those who do not have Type 1 Diabetes.

5 – Red Beans

Glycemic Index of Red Beans: 20

Peru is thought to be the home of red kidney beans. They belong to the genus Phaseolus, first domesticated in 8,000 BC as part of a bigger genus known as Phaseolus. Nowadays, they are grown primarily in North and South America, but surprisingly, growing red kidney beans is not easy. These leguminous plants get their name because their pods (beans) resemble human legs so accurately that when freshly sliced open during processing, there is no blood evident on the pod walls despite having valves within them responsible for controlling blood pressure by directly affecting arterial elasticity. Red Kidney Beans are also known as Pinto Beans due to their color, which looks like a dark shade of ripe pinto beans.

6 – Lentils

Glycemic Index of Lentils: 21

Lentils, chickpeas, dry beans, and peas are among the most popular legumes consumed as they have many benefits. They also help regulate blood glucose levels which is vital for managing type 2 diabetes. There are various gi tags that you can search on how to get more details about lentils and other legumes.

Glucose / Insulin response of lentils:

Lentil is an excellent source of dietary fiber. It also has carbohydrates, but these are broken down into glucose during digestion and absorption in your small intestine, which becomes a major role in how rapidly the body takes up blood glucose. According to early studies on people with diabetes, who generally have much lower levels than non-diabetic individuals that are high enough to cause symptoms from time to time, diabetes can be minimized by fibers.

7 – Dried Beans

Glycemic Index of Dried Beans: NA

Dry beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)have historically been a staple food, and they are widely consumed throughout the world and are rich in protein, fiber, and various micronutrients. They tend to have a nutty taste, and they can be used in many different dishes. Some of the more common dry beans include red kidney bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), great northern bean (Cicer periodosum), pigeon pea(Cajanus cajan).

Dried Beans are a rich source of protein which is also very easy to store herbivores’ meals or snacks for wildlife due to their high digestibility, which is 10 to 20 times that of plants in the vegan or vegetarian diet. They are also very rich in vitamin K and B group vitamins (especially C) and iron, zinc, and magnesium.

8 – Hummus

Glycemic Index of Hummus: 6

Hummus is made from chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and tahini. The slight bitterness of the chickpea works well with the smooth, creamy taste of hummus; this combination may also be due to dried garlic in hummus being high in antioxidants and helping stabilize blood glucose levels or amylase, which breaks down sugars into smaller molecules like glucose particles. Since it tastes so good, though, some people don’t eat it for the health benefits but instead enjoy eating essentially a far more fatty version of hummus with other toppings like cucumber and tomato. Hummus is also often served as an appetizer or snack dish, though there are many commercial brands available in grocery stores from which to choose.

9 – Lima Beans

Glycemic Index of Lima Beans: 46

Butter beans have a buttery, creamy texture and are white beans grown on the Phaseolus lunatus plant. In the USA, especially in the South, beans are highly popular. From succotash, a dish with origins in early Native American cuisine, to skillet beans with salt pork, they are featured in various classic regional recipes. Lima beans are another name for butter beans, named after the Peruvian capital city of Lima. South American cuisine frequently includes Lima beans with ceviche as a side dish.

Frequently asked questions about legumes for diabetes

Do legumes lower blood sugar?

Answer: Legumes are a great source of plant-based protein and contain compounds that help lower blood sugar. These compounds include fiber and resistant starch, which can help slow the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. Additionally, legumes contain minerals and vitamins that can help lower blood sugar levels.
One study showed that people who ate legumes every day had significantly lower blood sugar levels than those who didn’t. In addition, legumes can also help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases by improving insulin sensitivity. So, if you are looking for a healthy way to lower your blood sugar levels, incorporating legumes into your diet is a great option!

Why are legumes good for diabetes?

Answer: Legumes are a great source of fiber and protein, which can help to control blood sugar levels in those with diabetes. They are also a good source of soluble fiber, which can help slow the digestion and absorption of food, leading to reduced blood sugar levels. Additionally, legumes are high in magnesium, which can help to regulate blood sugar levels and prevent type 2 diabetes. They also contain plant-based proteins, which are a good source of the amino acid arginine, important for blood sugar control.
Overall, eating legumes can be a great way to control blood sugar levels and improve diabetes management.

Do chickpeas raise blood sugar?

Chickpeas are a good source of dietary fiber, protein, and iron. They contain large amounts of carbohydrates and protein that can be converted into energy. This means that they do not raise blood sugar levels significantly.
It is also important to note that if you are a diabetic, you should keep an eye on your blood sugar levels because chickpeas can cause spikes in your blood sugar level if consumed too often.

Final Words

In summary, the glycemic index differs widely between various foods and ingredients. To best understand the relationship of how your body reacts, blood sugar levels and allow it to respond naturally is something you should research more about. Extreme amounts of sugar consumption for long periods may create a negative reaction in your body. That is why you do not have to be obsessive about it as long as the occasional spoonful has its place but only after or alongside a meal or snack and should not become extreme, habitually.











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