Wrinkly peas: The new superfood

wrinkled peas getty image

International scientists have found that eating wrinkly peas may lower your risk of diabetes.

New research published in Nature involving Professor Elaine Holmes, Director of the Centre for Computational and Systems Medicine, with colleagues at Imperial College London, suggests wrinkly peas could be the new superfood in tackling diabetes.

The study found a natural genetic mutation in smooth green peas, which made the peas appear more shrivelled and wrinklier, also helped prevent blood sugar spikes linked to type 2 diabetes.

“It’s a great discovery, especially if you’re looking to reduce your risk of diabetes or to help type 2 diabetes patients control blood sugar levels,” said Professor Holmes.

As rising blood glucose levels continues to be a significant health-risk in many diseases, Professor Holmes and her colleagues suggest these findings offer an ‘alternative dietary strategy’ particularly in combating our type 2 diabetes epidemic.

 “Our bodies take longer to break down resistant starch, which helps prevent the blood sugar spikes that contribute to type 2 diabetes risk. The benefit of the mutation we found in wrinkly peas is that they contained lower carbohydrate content but higher amounts of resistant starch.”

Consisting of four trials with healthy volunteers, the study saw each participant fed a mix of meals using either wrinkly peas or pea flour products, as well as regular smooth peas.

The team measured how quickly each participant’s stomach would empty to understand how well the meals were being digested. A combination of assessments was used from breath tests to blood tests, placing tubes in gastrointestinal tracts and collecting urine and stool samples.

Professor Holmes explained the results showed wrinkly peas lead to less glucose being available in the small intestine.

“Participants with more wrinkly peas and wrinkly pea flour products in their diet displayed more stable blood sugar and healthy changes in gut bacteria, which we know are linked to long-term metabolic health benefits.”

Professor Holmes expects the research could have a widespread effect on glucose management practices and global food production. 

“There has been a very limited understanding of how starch structure within carbohydrate-rich food interact with our gut to control blood glucose levels,” she added.

Our research has established new ground to identify other natural mutations in legumes and vegetables that could provide a similar health benefit, and ultimately improve food production.”

 “For example, wrinkly peas and products using wrinkly pea flour could replace higher carbohydrate-type ingredients used to improve how common foods are produced,” said Professor Holmes.

“It could change the global landscape of public health.”

Professor Holmes’ research into the ‘goodness’ of food continues to be incorporated with her studies into metabolic profiling to develop the scientific basis for personalised diets.

“Our research seeks to explore the feasibility of using ‘precision nutrition’ as either a means to maintain health or reduce the risk of disease.”

Posted on:

23 Nov 2020


Health, Research

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