According to a new study, eating one serving a day of beans, peas or lentils can significantly reduce "bad cholesterol" and therefore the risk of cardiovascular disease. Sievenpiper of St Michael's Hospital here said that by eating one serving a day of pulses, people could lower their LDL ('bad') cholesterol by five percent.
"We have a lot of room in our diets for increasing our pulse intake to derive the cardiovascular benefits," Sievenpiper said. He said that this would translate into a five to six percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Pulses have a low glycemic index (foods that break down slowly) and tend to reduce or displace animal protein as well as "bad" fats such as trans fat in a dish or meal. "Pulses already play a role in many traditional cuisines, including Mediterranean and South Asian. As an added bonus, they're inexpensive," he added.
Sievenpiper's meta-analysis reviewed 26 randomised controlled trials that included 1,037 people.
Men had greater reduction in LDL cholesterol compared with women, perhaps because their diets are poorer and cholesterol levels are higher and benefit more markedly from a healthier diet.
Some study participants reported stomach upset such as bloating, gas, diarrhoea or constipation but these symptoms subsided over time. The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.