Background: Legumes are recommended for better glucose control in persons with diabetes. Whether subjects with normal insulin sensitivity would also benefit from legume consumption is not clear.
Objective: Our goal was to compare the effects on insulin sensitivity of chickpea-based and wheat-based foods when eaten as single meals or over 6 wk.
Design: Acute and long-term studies were conducted in healthy middle-aged men and women. In the acute study (n = 19), plasma glucose, insulin, and calculated homeostasis model assessment (HOMA; an index of insulin sensitivity) were measured on 3 separated days over 3 h after the subjects consumed 50-g available carbohydrate loads from either chickpeas, wheat-based foods, or white bread. The long-term comparison (n = 20) was a randomized, crossover study in which chickpea-based and wheat-based foods were eaten for 6 wk each. Plasma glucose, insulin, and HOMA were measured in the fasting state and 2 h after a 75-g glucose load.
Results: After single meals, plasma glucose was substantially lower 30 and 60 min after the chickpea meal than after the other 2 meals (P < 0.05), and plasma insulin and HOMA were lower at 120 min (P < 0.05 for both). Despite this, the long-term study failed to show significant differences in plasma glucose, insulin, or HOMA either in the fasting state or after a glucose load.
Conclusion: Compared with a wheat-based meal, a single chickpea-based meal led to a lesser response in plasma glucose and insulin concentrations, but this was not translated into long-term improvement in insulin sensitivity over 6 wk, at least in healthy subjects.