Beans Help Reduce LDL Cholesterol And Lower Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease
April 8, 2014

Daily Serving Of Beans, Peas, Chickpeas Or Lentils Could Significantly Reduce LDL Cholesterol

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

One serving of beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils per day can significantly reduce a person’s so-called bad cholesterol and lower his or her risk of cardiovascular disease, according to new research appearing in Monday’s edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Unfortunately, most people living in North American currently consume less than half that amount and would have to drastically increase their daily servings of the foods also known as pulses, lead investigator Dr. John Sievenpiper of the St. Michael’s Hospital Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre and his colleagues explained in a statement.

According to Dr. Sievenpiper, people could reduce their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol up to five percent by eating one 130 gram (3/4 cup) serving of pulses each day. Doing so would also translate into a five to six percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death amongst Americans.

He and his co-authors reviewed 26 randomized controlled trials involving more than 1,000 participants. Their research also found that men who ate one serving of non-oil seed legumes each day experienced a greater LDL reduction than women since they tend to have poorer diets and higher cholesterol to begin with.

“We have a lot of room in our diets for increasing our pulse intake to derive the cardiovascular benefits,” Dr. Sievenpiper said. “Pulses already play a role in many traditional cuisines, including Mediterranean and South Asian. As an added bonus, they're inexpensive. Since many pulses are grown in North America, it's also an opportunity to buy and eat locally and support our farmers.”

While some study participants reported experiencing some digestive unrest, including bloating, gas, diarrhea or constipation, those symptoms subsided over the course of the study. Since pulses have a low glycemic index and break down slowly, they tend to reduce or displace animal protein and trans fat in meals.

The researchers report that while consumption levels of pulses is low in the US, Canada and other parts of the western world, one daily serving is “reasonable” and is currently consumed by several cultures around the world without widespread reports of side-effects. They hope that the study will help shape dietary guidelines.

“Canadians have a lot of room in their diets to increase their pulse intake and derive cardiovascular benefits,” said Dr. Sievenpiper. “Only 13 percent consume pulses on any given day, and of those who do, the average intake is only about a half serving.”

“Because dietary pulse intake may have beneficial effects on other cardiometabolic risk factors, including body weight, blood pressure and glucose control, future systematic reviews and meta-analyses should evaluate the effects of such dietary interventions on these outcomes and others, to address factors that contribute to residual cardiovascular disease risk,” the authors added in their study.

Experts from the Li Ka Shing Institute, St. Michael's Hospital, the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, the University of Toronto and the Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute in Toronto; McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario; the American Heart Association in Houston; the University of Saskatchewan;  Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, Massachusetts; the Cleveland Clinic; Pennsylvania State University; the University of Guelph in Ontario; and Queen's University in Ontario were also involved in the study.