Beans are a staple at any cookout they might also help your heart. Legumes can go in soups, salads or as a side dish with any protein! Not only are legumes delicious and versatile, but they have also been linked to lower levels of LDL cholesterol (the type usually referred to as “bad”).
Legumes are high in soluble fiber, which offers two benefits. Fiber keeps you feeling full and can aid weight loss and help you make healthy food choices when you aren’t deciding on an empty stomach. Fiber also binds with cholesterol in your digestive tract before it has a chance to reach your bloodstream.
Researchers in Canada, compiling information from 26 studies, saw that one serving of legumes a day, eaten over the course of six weeks, lowered cholesterol by five percent. They saw the difference regardless of what type of legumes the participants were eating: lentils, chickpeas, beans and peas all had the same impact.
The researchers couldn’t confirm that it was cause-and-effect. But, the correlation was robust. The legumes seemed to help men more than women, but the researchers weren’t sure if that was due to biology or if the men had higher cholesterol levels and made poorer food choices than women prior to the study. The researchers did believe that part of the effect was because people were replacing other, less healthy, foods with the legumes.
Legumes are “one of the most underappreciated sources of protein out there” according to Dana Angelo White is a sports dietitian and assistant clinical professor at Quinnipiac Univ. That might, in part, be because we avoid them due to their association with flatulence. While people in the studies did complain of some digestive discomfort at first, their symptoms ease over time as their bodies adjusted.
With so many varieties of legumes available in the supermarket, it should be easy to find some that you like. While baked beans at barbeques are high in sugar, and not something to be eaten daily, legumes should find a home on your kitchen table regularly.