Wrinkled Peas May Help Reduce Blood Sugar And Diabetes Risk,
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It is well accepted that diet strategy to maintain normal blood sugar is to alter the composition of commonly consumed foods. Researchers at Imperial College London have found in a new study that a type of wrinkled 'super pea' may help control blood sugar levels and could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

They have found that incorporating the peas into foods, in the form of whole pea seeds or flour, may help tackle the global type 2 diabetes epidemic.

The study reveals that compared to eating smooth peas, wrinkled peas prevented 'sugar spikes' – where blood sugar levels rise sharply after a meal. The same effect was seen when consuming flour made from wrinkled peas incorporated in a mixed meal.

Over a series of experiments, the team gave healthy volunteers a mixed meal including 50 grams of wrinkled peas, and in a series of control experiments gave them regular 'smooth' peas. Researchers also added a tracer molecule to the peas, so that they could trace how they were absorbed and digested by the human gastrointestinal tract.

The researchers repeated the experiments using flour made from wrinkled peas or control peas. In order to further investigate the impact of long-term consumption they recruited 25 volunteers and asked them to consume pea hummus and mushy peas (made from wrinkled or control peas) for a period of 4 weeks.

Lead author of the study said: "The 'super pea' contains a naturally-occurring variant gene that means they are high in resistant starches. These starches are not completely digested in the upper parts of the digestive tract and are available for fermentation by bacteria in the colon".

Previous research from the same group has suggested that, as these bacteria ferment the starch, they produce compounds called short chain fatty acids. These compounds in turn help boost the function of cells that produce insulin, which helps control blood sugar.

Further tests using a mimic of the human gut showed that the way that the peas were prepared and cooked affected how quickly they were digested. Researchers also showed that there were significant benefits to our gut microbiota because of the fermentation process taking place there.

The study authors point out that it is not only peas which have the resistant starch mutation. Other research is focusing on breeding the mutation into staple crops, such as rice and wheat.

With modern genomic tools there is the potential for discovery or generation of the mutation across a range of seed and grain crops - which make up many of the carbohydrate-rich foods we consume.

Source: https://www.nature.com/articles/s43016-020-00159-8
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