If you have been advised to reduce your cholesterol levels, here is one more suggestion that you can adopt - eat a serving of legumes like beans, chickpeas, lentils and peas every day.
A new study from the Canadian Medical Association Journal studied the effect of taking non-oil-seed legumes in reducing LDL - cholesterol or bad cholesterol levels. They pooled data from individual studies which covered 1037 individuals. They found a 5% reduction in LDL-cholesterol levels in those who took a serving of legumes every day for at least 3 weeks. This could reduce the risk of heart disease to a small extent.
AdvertisementThough legumes are a part of the regular diet in India, it is less consumed in the western world. Adverse effects recorded in the study include bloating, flatulence, diarrhea or constipation.
Types of Legumes
Legumes grow from plants which develop pods with seeds inside. The seeds and sometimes the pods are consumed as food. Common types of legumes include:
Beans: There are several types of beans like French beans, soybeans, fava beans, kidney beans and lima beans.
Peas: Common types of peas include green peas, black-eyed peas and split peas.
Lentils: Lentils are small oval grains that are a type of legumes. Sprouted lentils are nutritionally desired foods.
Nutritional Benefits of Legumes
Legumes are rich in protein. They can substitute the protein requirement in vegetarians. Sprouted lentils are a particularly good source.
They are rich in fiber. Fiber helps to reduce cholesterol levels and also helps in the proper functioning of the digestive system.
Non-oil legumes are low in fat.
Legumes often contain micronutrients like folate, iron, potassium and magnesium.
Heart Disease Diet Plan
Here are a few diet tips to keep your heart healthy:
Control your salt intake. Salt increases blood pressure and increases the work load of the heart.
Reduce your fat intake, especially that of saturated fats. Excessive fats deposit in blood vessels, thereby obstructing the free flow of blood. This can result in a heart attack.
Eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. These contain antioxidants that are good for your cardiovascular system.
Eat whole grain-based foods rather than those based on refined grains or flour.
Eat just as much as you need. Eating 5 to 6 small meals may be a better option than three large meals.
Control your intake of sugar, which adds up to your calorie intake.
If you are a non-vegetarian, fish like salmon is good for your heart.
1. Ha V et al. Effect of dietary pulse intake on established therapeutic lipid targets for cardiovascular risk reduction: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. CMAJ 2014. DOI:10.1503/cmaj.131727