Inexpensive yet versatile legumes lend themselves to a variety of recipes and meals, ranging from simple beans on toast to creamy lentil halibut.
Packed with fiber, protein and healthy fats, the small foods present more than just a pleasant-tasting meal.
Beans, peas and lentils can even keep your cholesterol levels in check, lowering your risk of heart disease.
The reason why these three foods offer “cholesterol-lowering” powers comes down to their fiber content, according to Heart UK.
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The charity explains that some types of fiber can help lower your fat levels.
It says: “It blocks the absorption of some cholesterol from the intestines into the bloodstream.
“Pule fruits such as beans, peas and lentils are particularly rich in this type of fiber.”
Plus, the charity isn’t alone in highlighting the powerful effects of eating legumes.
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that a pulse-based diet lowered total cholesterol by 8.3 percent, making the small foods an “effective” choice.
Looking at 108 individuals aged 50 or older, the research team served participants two servings of legume-based foods or instructed them to follow their normal diet for two months.
This regimen was followed by a one-month washout period, after which each group switched to the other diet for two months.
The study mainly looked at beans, chickpeas, peas and lentils. All this led to cholesterol reduction.
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Plus, not only do pulses lower your cholesterol levels, but they can also reduce your risk of heart disease, according to Heart UK.
Since high cholesterol is one of the precursors to heart disease, keeping the fatty substance under control also has positive effects on your heart.
The British Heart Foundation explains that just one serving of pulses provides about a third of the fiber you need throughout the day, meaning they can help lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and colon cancer.
To reap all the benefits, research suggests you should consume about 130 grams of legumes each day.
This represents about a third of a can of beans, which can be had for as little as 59 pence, depending on your bean variety and the store you shop at.
Heart UK adds that three tablespoons of beans, peas or lentils should be enough.
From chickpeas to red lentils, the good news is that all options count towards this goal.
It doesn’t even matter if you choose fresh, canned, frozen or dried legumes, supplements charity.