(Health Secrets) Replacing whole wheat flour with yellow pea flour could help to control diabetes, according to researchers from the University of Manitoba. Yellow pea flour has a low glycemic index, meaning that it can be used to make foods that will have minimal impact on blood sugar.
Regulating blood sugar and avoiding sharp rises and peaks can help diabetics to avoid the long term symptoms of diabetes, such as nerve damages, blindness, kidney disease, and heart disease. Eating foods with a low glycemic index is one of the basic ways for the millions of Americans who now suffer from diabetes to ensure good blood sugar control.
The findings of the yellow pea flour study
As well as attempting to determine the impact of foods made with yellow pea flour on blood sugar, the researchers wanted to find out whether yellow pea flour was a viable replacement for whole wheat flour in terms of taste, texture, and appearance. Their findings were published in the Science Journal of Food.
Nineteen healthy men and women took part in the study, which involved eating two different types of banana bread, biscotti, and spaghetti. The first type was made with whole wheat flour, while the second type was made with yellow pea flour. The subjects were tested before and after consuming each of these foods to measure the change in their blood sugar. Boiled yellow peas and white bread were used as positive and negative controls.
The results of the study showed that glycemic responses were considerably lower when the participants in the study ate items made from yellow pea flour than when they ate items made from whole wheat flour.
The participants were also asked to comment on the taste, texture and appearance of the baked goods made from yellow pea flour. Overall the responses were positive, indicating that yellow pea flour can be a viable alternative to white and whole wheat flour, especially for the banana bread and biscotti. The only negative response was that the spaghetti made from yellow pea flour had an odd aroma.
The glycemic index explained
The glycemic index is a way of determining a certain food’s impact on blood sugar. Often known as GI, the glycemic index measures the effect that specific carbohydrates have on blood sugar levels.
Some carbohydrates release sugar into the bloodstream very quickly as they are digested, and these foods are said to have a high glycemic index. Carbohydrates that release sugar into the bloodstream gradually over time are said to have a low glycemic index. The second group of carbohydrates is beneficial for diabetics, as it does not cause rapid increases and peaks in blood sugar.
Other foods with a relatively low glycemic index include:
- Breakfast cereals based on oats, barley and bran
- Breads with whole grains, stone-ground flour or sour dough
- Pearled barley and long grain rice
- Most fruits and vegetables
- Chickpeas and lentils
Why have I been advised that whole wheat flour is the healthy choice?
Currently, diabetics are advised to make their own baked goods using whole wheat flour, rather than buying ready-made cakes, pastries and pastas that are made with white flour. This is because whole wheat flour has a lower glycemic index than white flour, and so will cause less of a rise in blood sugar when consumed. However, even though whole wheat flour is healthier than white flour, it now seems that yellow pea flour could be an even better alternative.
Where can I find yellow pea flour?
Yellow pea flour is inexpensive and available in some health food stores. It can also be ordered online. As the health benefits of yellow pea flour become more widely known, it is hoped that major food stores will also begin to stock it. The number of people with type 2 diabetes is growing at an alarming rate in the U.S., and any natural ingredients that can be used to control blood sugar without resorting to medication should be widely promoted.