Just one serving a day of pulses, including beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils, could help with weight loss says a new Canadian study published this week in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The meta-analysis, carried out by a team from St. Michael's Hospital, looked at a total of 940 participants from 21 different clinical trials.
The data showed that after adding a single serving of pulses to their diet -- about 3/4 cup (130 grams) -- participants lost an average 0.34 kg (0.75 pounds) over a six-week period, and without making an effort to reduce any other foods.
Pulses could help contribute to weight loss, and prevent weight gain, thanks not only to their high protein content and low glycemic index, but also because increasing pulses in the diet could help reduce intake of less healthy food options, with pulses replacing animal proteins and "bad" fats such as trans-fat.
The study's lead author, Dr. Russell de Souza, commented on the results, saying, "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."
The study also builds on and supports the hospital's previous work on the health benefits of a daily serving of pulses, which found that they can increase the feeling of fullness by 31 per cent, and decrease levels of "bad cholesterol" by 5 per cent.
This feeling of fullness could be important in controlling weight, with Dr de Souza commenting that 90 per cent of weight loss interventions fail, possibly as a results of hunger and food cravings.
Dr de Souza also added that, "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."
In an effort to increase public awareness on the many health benefits of pulses, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses.
The new findings come after the news last week that a high-protein diet, of which pulses are a great source, could help overweight and obese adults sleep better. Sleep is another important factor in weight loss and weight management, as well as being important in reducing the risk of metabolic and cardiovascular disease and the risk of premature death. The study, carried out by Purdue University, was also published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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