TORONTOEating one serving per day of pulses, which include beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils, can improve cholesterol levels and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to new research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. However, most people in North America would need to double their consumption of these foods to reach the target.
Many consumers have turned to pulses as nutrient-rich alternatives to common allergen-causing foods, a trend that creates opportunities for food product designers to formulate with pulses and provide new gluten-free, allergen-free products.
Eating one serving per day of pulses can help people lower their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by 5%, and the new research from St. Michael's Hospital indicates this could translate into a 5% to 6% reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Lead author John Sievenpiper, of the hospital’s Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre, reviewed 26 randomized controlled trials that included 1,037 people. Men had greater reduction in LDL cholesterol compared with women, which could be because their diets are poorer and cholesterol levels are higher, so they 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.
Pulses already play a role in traditional cuisines, and consuming beans and legumes through a traditional Mediterranean diet could lead to a lower risk of chronic illnesses and a lower mortality rate.