From potato salad... to potato chips... to baked potatoes hot off the grill, it seems like no summer picnic or BBQ is complete without a side of spuds.
And while you could argue that America's favorite tuber is technically a "vegetable," potatoes are mostly composed of starch, which your body later breaks down into glucose (a.k.a. sugar).
That means that "taters" can quickly spike your blood sugar, significantly raising your risk of diabetes.
But according to a new study, there's another side dish that'll please your taste buds AND smooth out those blood sugar spikes -- because swapping potatoes for lentils can slash your blood sugar by over a third.
In the study, Canadian researchers measured the blood sugar of a group of healthy adults both before and two hours after they ate a meal of potatoes only, and then they tested subjects again before and after they ate half potatoes and half lentils.
They found that when lentils partially took the place of the potatoes, the participants' postprandial (after-meal) blood sugar was 35 percent LOWER than when they ate potatoes only.
Now, that's no small potatoes -- and just think how much lower it would have been if the participants had eaten lentils only!
The researchers also repeated the study with white rice and found that swapping out lentils for half the rice led to a 20 percent drop in blood sugar.
That makes these little legumes the perfect substitute for any "white carb" you may be craving!
Technically, lentils are "pulses," which are the edible seeds of plants in the legume family.
And all pulses -- including chickpeas, black-eyed peas, and dried beans (like kidney beans and lima beans) -- are rich in fiber, which slows down the release of sugars into your bloodstream, protecting you from dangerous blood sugar spikes.
Pulses also contain certain components that inhibit enzymes involved in your body's absorption of glucose from food, meaning that less sugar finds its way into your system in the first place.
Plus, the benefits of lentils don't stop there. They're loaded with heart-healthy folate and magnesium -- and previous studies have shown that they can slash your risk of death from heart disease by 82 percent !
And while potatoes set you up for a blood sugar crash later on -- leaving you hungry and fatigued -- lentils are packed with protein and iron that give you long-lasting energy.
So, whether you've got diabetes or just want to prevent it, say "See you later, taters!" and try some lentils instead.
Cooked, seasoned lentils are delicious added to soups and salads or on their own as a side dish.
And if you don't want to bother with cooking, you can pick up a flavorful lentil dish at your local Indian or Middle Eastern restaurant.