Legumes, such as chickpeas, beans and lentils, have been linked to reduced heart disease risk in diabetics, a study has shown.
As a result, expatriates could reduce the number of times they have to claim on international health insurance policies by changing their diet, the research in the Archives of Internal Medicine found.
The study, which was completed by Dr David Jenkins from St Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto along with his colleagues, revealed that eating legumes as an element of a low-glycaemic index diet appeared to boost glycaemic control, helping to curtail the likelihood of type two diabetes mellitus (DM) sufferers falling ill through coronary heart disease (CHD).
Researchers used 121 patients who had type two DM to examine the way consumption of legumes impacted serum lipid levels, blood pressure and other health factors.
Participants were randomised, with one group told to eat more whole-wheat products and the others encouraged to consume at least one additional cup of legumes every day.
It was found that those eating around 190 gs of legumes had a lower calculated CHD risk score and improved blood pressure.
The researchers pointed out that regions such as India and Latin America have a rapidly increasing number of people with type two DM, although legume intake was traditionally high in these areas.
"Support for the continued use of such foods in traditional bean-eating communities, together with their reintroduction into the Western diet, could therefore be justified even if the effect on glycaemia is relatively small," the authors concluded.
They argued this would still be worthwhile in light of the "magnitude of the problem and the need to acceptable dietary options".
"Nutrition education and counselling must be sensitive to the personal needs and cultural preferences of individuals and their ability to make and sustain lifestyle changes," Marion Franz, certified diabetes educator at Nutrition Concepts by Franz, said in an invited commentary to the study.