Eating beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils not only help people lose weight – but also enables them to keep it off, according to new research.
The study shows just one 130 gram serving a day of pulses – three-quarters of a cupful – could lead to weight loss by making people feel fuller and by vastly reducing ‘bad cholesterol’ levels.
The researchers looked at 21 clinical trials involving 940 adult men and women, who lost an average of 0.75 lbs over six weeks by adding a single serving of pulses to their diet.
And the study showed the weight loss happened without people even making much effort to eat less of other foods.
Study leader Dr Russell de Souza, a researcher with the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada, said: “Despite their known health benefits, only 13 per cent of Canadians eat pulses on any given day and most do not eat the full serving.
“So there is room for most of us to incorporate dietary pulses in our diet and realize potential weight management benefits.”
Pulses have a low glycemic index – which means they break down slowly – and so can be used to reduce or displace animal protein as well as “bad” fats such as trans-fat in a dish or meal.
Dr de Souza noted that 90 per cent of weight loss interventions fail, resulting in weight regain, which may be due in part to hunger and food cravings.
He said: “This new study fits well with our previous work, which found that pulses increased the feeling of fullness by 31 per cent, which may indeed result in less food intake.”
Another study found that eating on average one serving a day of beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils can also reduce “bad cholesterol” by five per cent – and therefore lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Knowing which foods make people feel fuller longer may help them lose weight and keep it off.
Dr de Souza said: “Though the weight loss was small, our findings suggest that simply including pulses in your diet may help you lose weight, and we think more importantly, prevent you from gaining it back after you lose it.
“So eating more pulses means eating local, being more sustainable and receiving many health benefits.”
The study comes as the United Nations and the Food and Agriculture Organization have designated 2016 as the International Year of Pulses.
The research was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
By James Caven