Diabetes is ranked #7 for leading causes of death in the United States. Those who are afflicted with the disease have two times the risk for heart attack and stroke than otherwise healthy people who do not have diabetes. Typically developing gradually over time, type 2 diabetes is the result of too much sugar, or glucose, in the blood and is the most common form.

Until very recently, diabetic diets relied on meats and grains for daily energy. However, new research is showing that high-nutrient foods with a low glycemic load (GL) are the best food sources for diabetics. These nutritious foods may also help to prevent the development of diabetes.

Legumes - like soybeans, garbanzo beans, navy and kidney beans - are a good alternative to high-fat, red meats and a very good dietary choice for diabetics. Beans are a low GL food source due to a moderate quantity of protein and a rich amount of slow-digesting fiber. They are also high in antioxidants, B vitamins, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc.

Beans and other legumes can also help when it comes to weight loss because they help people to feel full quickly and for longer periods of time. Typically a half cup of most beans have roughly 100 calories. Other great benefits to beans they are very affordable and versatile!

Among many important health issues, the Shanghai Women's Health Study examined how consumption of legumes in over 64,000 women affected their chances for developing type 2 diabetes. Researchers found an inverse connection with consumption of legumes (especially soybeans) and the development of type 2 diabetes. It was concluded that the more legumes the subjects consumed, the lower their risks for developing type 2 diabetes.

Tips about cooking with beans: Dried beans typically need to be soaked overnight before cooking, but some brands come with a quick-soak method that can be found on the back of the package. Canned beans can be drained and rinsed to remove added sodium.

Here is a healthy and hearty vegetarian chili recipe that is ideal for Sunday dinner! If you want to kick up the heat, add some diced jalapeno (or your favorite hot) peppers!

Sunday White Bean Chili Vegetarian Style

  • 2 T soybean oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 t chili powder
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 t red pepper flakes
  • 2 15-ounce cans white beans, rinsed
  • 2 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes, un-drained
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 can whole kernel yellow corn, drained
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 large, ripe avocado - peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup fat-free sour cream

Over medium-high heat, cook oil in a heavy pot. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and pepper flakes. Cook for about five minutes until tender, with occasional stirring. Add the beans, tomatoes and broth, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Stir in the corn and heat through for about five more minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice. Serve in bowls, and garnish with diced avocado, cilantro and a dollop of sour cream. Serve with a side of warmed, baked tortilla chips, and enjoy!

Villegas R, Gao YT, Yang G, Li HL, Elasy TA, Zheng W, Shu XO. Legume and soy food intake and the incidence of type 2 diabetes in the Shanghai Women's Health Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2008 Jan;87(1):162-7.