A new study shows lentils, peas, beans and chickpeas can reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke by lowering levels of bad cholesterol.
A daily serving of the beans and peas, known as dietary pulses, can lead to a five per cent reduction in LDL cholesterol, the study said.
Every one per cent reduction in LDL cholesterol translates to a one per cent reduction in cardiovascular disease, the study said.
The study was released on April 7 and published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research funded the study. It is apart of a bigger series of projects looking at body weight, blood pressure, blood glucose control and cholesterol, said Vanessa Ha, leading author in the study and research coordinator at St. Michael’s Hospital.
A single serving is equal to a three-quarters cup of dietary pulses, said Ha.
Researchers conducted 26 randomized controlled trials of 1,037 people, the study said.
Candidates in the study were middle-aged individuals, not on lipid medication with normal cholesterol levels, the study said.
“That was the average characteristics of the population so the study is more applicable to these individuals. However, pulses are considered to be a healthy food and should be a part of anyone’s diet.”
Participants in the study experienced symptoms including flatulence, bloating and cramping, said Ha. This was a result of a lack of prior dietary pulse consumption.
“Over the course of the study, on average these individuals reported less and less symptoms. In some individuals the symptoms disappeared completely. It doesn’t seem to be a problem over a long period of time,” she said.
According to participants in the study, the body will adapt to this type of diet, said Ha.
Study results show a one per cent reduction in LDL cholesterol by eating dietary pulses leads to one per cent reduction in cardiovascular events, like heart attack and stroke, she said.
“What we want to advocate is that we aren’t recommending people go out and eat one kilo of dietary pulses per day to lower their cholesterol, but rather we want to encourage individuals to incorporate dietary pulses as part of their overall dietary pattern,” said Ha.