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New Evidence Proves Eating Pulses Can Reduce “Bad” Cholesterol (PCN Spring 2014) MAY 5 2014 | Consumers and Producers | Pulse Crop News

This article appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Pulse Crop News.

Pulse Canada

Winnipeg (April 7, 2014) – A new meta-analysis of existing research shows that eating pulses (peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas) for at least three weeks significantly reduces LDL-cholesterol levels, which can lower the risk of heart attack and stroke.

A large group of researchers from Canadian and US universities and hospitals recently conducted a review and meta-analysis of 26 published feeding trials in an attempt to quantify the amount of pulses needed in the diet to impact specific heart disease related outcomes including LDL-cholesterol.

The average dose of pulses consumed in the studies was 130 grams or one serving per day, which is equal to about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of pulses. Pulse consumption lowered LDL-cholesterol levels by about 5%. This reduction translates to a 5 to 6% reduction in events like heart attack or stroke.

“Although most heart disease prevention guidelines recommend eating pulses as part of a healthy diet, there isn’t an exact amount recommended to achieve a specific benefit like lowering LDL-cholesterol,” says Dr. John Sievenpiper, lead researcher for the study. “With these results, we now have a recommended amount we can promote as having specific cardiovascular health benefits.”

“There are many easy ways to add more pulses to your diet,” says Dr. Julianne Curran, Director of Nutrition, Science and Regulatory Affairs with Pulse Canada. “Pulses can be used for far more than soups and chilis. Lentil and bean purees are a great way to reduce fat and increase fiber and protein in baked goods. Snacks like hummus and crackers pack a serious punch by combining pulses and cereal grains to increase fiber and protein. And there are new products on supermarket shelves every day that include pulse ingredients.”

A manuscript of the research, titled “The Effect of Dietary Pulses on Established Therapeutic Lipid Targets of Cardiovascular Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials” was published in the April 7, 2014 edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The findings of this meta-analysis are consistent with those of another review commissioned last year by Pulse Canada on high quality studies specific to beans and cholesterol lowering. The study, funded by the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP), critically evaluated a total of eight studies that met Health Canada’s criteria for health claims. Of these studies, 83% saw a beneficial effect on total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels. The minimum effective dose of beans in these studies was 130 grams per day which is equal to ¾ cup or one serving according to Canada’s Food Guide.

“The power of pulses is remarkable. They are a low fat and low saturated fat source of protein, and contain high amounts of complex carbohydrates like fibre and resistant starch. As an added bonus, they have several vitamins and minerals that are important for body processes like iron, potassium, folate and other B vitamins,” says Dr. Curran.

Pulse Canada is the national association representing growers, traders and processors of Canadian pulse crops. Canada is the world’s largest supplier of pulses, with annual exports reaching more than 150 countries.