green lentils

One Vegetable Lowers Blood Sugar More Than Metformin

In All Health Watch, Featured Article, General Health

The first-line treatment for type 2 diabetes is the drug metformin. It lowers blood sugar by an average of 25%.1

But a new study shows there’s a simple way to reduce blood sugar even more than metformin can.

And it requires no drugs, no exercise, and no supplements.

Research from the University of Guelph has found that replacing starches and carbs like potatoes and rice in your diet with lentils can lower your blood glucose level by up to 35%.2

Substituting lentils for a half serving of rice caused a 20% drop in blood sugar. Eating lentils instead of potatoes made an even bigger difference, with a 35% blood sugar decrease.

Professor Alison Duncan was one of the study authors. She notes that lentils are a type of vegetable called pulses. Others include peas and beans. “Pulses are extremely nutrient-dense foods that have the potential to reduce chronic diseases associated with mismanaged glucose levels,” she said.3

The study followed 24 healthy adults. During four different meals they were given different dishes to eat:

  • One serving of white rice
  • Half serving white rice, half serving large green lentils
  • Half serving white rice, half serving small green lentils
  • Half serving white rice, half serving split red lentils

The subjects were then served another four meals. But this time potatoes were substituted for rice.

The researchers tested subjects’ glucose levels before they ate the meals and two hours after.

In all cases, the lentils dramatically reduced blood sugar spikes compared to when the subjects ate either white rice or potatoes alone. The small green lentils had a slightly greater protective effect than the other types of lentils, but the difference was not significant.4

Professor Duncan explained that lentils slow digestion and the release of sugar into the bloodstream. This ultimately brings down glucose levels.

“This slower absorption means you don’t experience a spike in glucose,” she said. Since high blood sugar levels over time can lead to type 2 diabetes, eating lentils seems to lower risk of developing the disease.

Delicious Lentil Salad Recipe

This lentil salad is a delicious way to keep your blood sugar under control.


  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 4 large scallions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt if desired


Boil 4 cups water in a 2-quart heavy saucepan with lentils, garlic, and half-teaspoon salt.

Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 25 minutes, until lentils are tender.

Drain in a large sieve. Transfer to a large bowl.

Toss hot lentils with tomatoes, dill, scallions, basil, oil, vinegar, pepper, and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt, or to taste.

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