Daily serving of beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils may significantly reduce “bad” cholesterol
Eating one serve a day of beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils may significantly reduce “bad” cholesterol, and therefore the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a study from St Michael’s Hospital in Canada.
However, most people in North America would have to more than double their consumption of pulses to reach that target, the researchers said.
The study, which was published on 7 April 2014 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, was led by Dr John Sievenpiper of St. Michael’s Hospital Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre.
Dr Sievenpiper said the study showed that by eating one serving a day of pulses (130 grams or ¾ cup), people could lower their LDL (“bad”) cholesterol by five per cent. Pulses have a low glycemic index and tend to reduce or displace animal protein as well as “bad” fats such as trans fat in a dish or meal. He said that would translate into a five to six per cent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease, the second leading cause of death in Canada.
The researchers said Canadians on average ate less than half a serving a day.
“Canadians have a lot of room in their diets for increasing their pulse intake to derive the cardiovascular benefits,” Dr Sievenpiper said. “Only 13 per cent consume pulses on any given day,” he said.
“As an added bonus, they’re inexpensive,” Dr Sievenpiper said. “Since many pulses are grown in Canada, it’s also an opportunity to buy and eat locally and support Canadian farmers,” he said .
The St Michael’s Hospital researchers conducted a meta-analysis, which reviewed 26 randomised controlled trials that included 1,037 people.
Men had greater reduction in LDL cholesterol compared with women, which researchers said could be because men’s diets were generally “poorer” and cholesterol levels were higher. This meant the men analysed would benefit more markedly from a healthier diet. Some study participants reported stomach upset such as bloating, gas, diarrhea or constipation but these symptoms subsided over the course of the study.