In a new study, researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, NY, found that the order in which different types of food are consumed has a significant impact on post-meal glucose and insulin levels in obese people. Writing in the journal Diabetes Care, the authors suggest their findings may have dietary implications for diabetic and other high-risk patients.
For people with type 2 diabetes, it is important to maintain normal glucose levels after eating, because if their blood sugar level spikes then they are at increased risk of complications, including hardening of the arteries and heart disease, which can eventually lead to death.
Some previous studies had found that eating vegetables or protein before carbohydrates could be an effective way to lower post-meal glucose levels. The researchers behind the new study wanted to see whether this association applied to a typical Western diet, with meals consisting of a mix of vegetables, protein carbohydrates and fat.
When the vegetables and protein were eaten before the carbohydrates, the researchers found that glucose levels were 29%, 37% and 17% lower at the 30, 60 and 120-minute checks, compared with when carbohydrates were consumed first. Also, insulin was found to be significantly lower when the participants ate vegetables and protein first.
“Based on this finding, instead of saying ‘don’t eat that’ to their patients, clinicians might instead say, ‘eat this before that,'” says senior author Dr. Louis Aronne, the Sanford I. Weill Professor of Metabolic Research and a professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.