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Diabetics urged to eat cup of beans a day

Eating a cup of beans or lentils every day may help people with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar and possibly reduce their risk of heart attacks and stroke.

Canadian researchers found that, compared with a diet rich in whole grains, getting a daily dose of legumes led to small drops in an important measure of blood sugar as well as in blood pressure and cholesterol.

After three months on the bean diet, study participants' estimated 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease had fallen from 10.7pc to 9.6pc.

"Legumes are good protein sources, and proteins tend to dampen the blood glucose response and they lower blood pressure," said David Jenkins of St Michael's Hospital in Toronto, who led the study.

Legumes such as beans, chickpeas and lentils are already recommended for diabetics owing to their low glycemic index, a measure of how far and how fast a given food sends up blood sugar.