Take Pulse to Lower Cholesterol

A daily pulse can significantly reduce LDL (low-density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol) levels and lower the risk of heart disease, according to the Canadian Medical Association Journal. But don’t press two fingers to your wrist just yet. In this case, pulse means beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils—also called legumes.

Consuming one serving a day of these vegetarian protein sources can reduce the risk for heart disease. The report also indicated this finding seems to be especially true for men. That may be because men tend to have worse eating habits and higher cholesterol levels to begin with than women, so they might gain more benefit from switching to a healthier diet.

Researchers revealed the strong association between a daily serving of pulse and a reduction in LDL cholesterol when they reviewed 26 US and Canadian studies that included more than 1,000 people each. Study participants were followed for at least three weeks to test the health effects of legume intake. The FDA uses the same three-week threshold to evaluate any product that claims to help lower cholesterol.

Some study participants reported the usual gastrointestinal after-effects of eating pulse–bloating, flatulence, diarrhea. Nevertheless, nutrition experts regularly praise the lowly bean, pea and lentil.

Called a meta-analysis, the Canadian Medical Association Journal study was methodologically strong. Its writers recommend more testing to verify the results.

A Quick Pulse Recipe

Paired with a selection of fresh vegetables like baby-cut carrots, pepper strips and celery sticks, hummus–the classic Middle Eastern dip/spread–makes an easy, light meal that’s perfect for a hot day. Mashed chickpeas (garbanzo beans) usually form the basis for the dish. You’ll enjoy today’s unconventional Tuscan White Bean Hummus, too.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup, white kidney beans (drained)
3 Tbsp., tahini
2 oz., lemon Juice
1/2 tsp., salt
1/4 cup, basil (chiffonade)
1 oz., extra virgin olive oil

Preparation:

  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor.
  2. Use the pulse setting (no pun intended!) until the dip/spread is a smooth consistency.

The Tuscan White Bean Hummus recipe was originally published by the US Dry Bean Council.

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