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Yellow Pea Flour May Help Diabetes

Yellow Pea Flour a Healthy, Inexpensive Way to Create Lower Glycemic Index Foods
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD


Oct. 28, 2009 -- Yellow pea flour may help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes by replacing whole wheat flour as an ingredient in creating low glycemic index foods.

A new study suggests that yellow pea flour may be an inexpensive substitute for wheat flour to create healthier, low glycemic index versions of typically high glycemic index foods, such as cookies, breads, and pasta.

The glycemic index (GI) of a food refers to the spike in blood sugar (glucose) levels produced after eating it. High glycemic index foods produce a more rapid spike in blood sugar levels, which can be dangerous for people with type 2 diabetes who need to keep their blood sugar levels under control to prevent complications.

Researchers say pulses, including yellow peas, are now being studied as potential functional ingredients in foods because they possess a number of health benefits. They are high in fiber, protein, and antioxidants and are low in fat. Eating whole pulses has also been shown to lower glucose levels after meals.

But they say few studies have looked at the feasibility of producing foods with pulse-derived ingredients that are good to eat as well as good for you.

Low GI Flour Alternative

In the study, published in the Journal of Food Science, researcher Christopher Marinangeli, MSc, RD, of the University of Manitoba and colleagues created banana bread, biscotti, and pasta using whole yellow pea flour.

They then compared the glucose responses of 19 healthy men and women who ate the new yellow pea flour and traditional whole wheat flour versions of the foods.

The results showed that whole yellow pea flour banana bread and biscotti produced lower glycemic responses compared to white bread, and whole yellow pea flour biscotti produced a more favorable glycemic index response than whole wheat flour biscotti.

The whole yellow pea flour pasta, however, did not show any difference in glycemic index response compared to traditional whole wheat pasta. Researchers say this may be because of the pasta’s exposure to water during cooking, which may affect absorption of the carbohydrates from the pasta.

The participants rated the appearance, smell, taste, texture, and overall appeal of the foods on a scale of one (dislike very much) to five (like very much). All of the whole yellow pea flour foods scored above a 3 on all categories except “texture” for the biscotti, which had an average rating of 2.6 in that category, and “smell” for the whole yellow pea flour pasta, which scored an average of 2.9.

Researchers conclude that the results support the use of whole yellow pea flour as an alternative ingredient in producing "tasty, low glycemic foods that help prevent and manage type 2 diabetes.”

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