3 Huge Legume Benefits of a Pulse Power Diet

legume benefits
legume benefits

3 Huge Legume Benefits of a Pulse Powered Diet

Over the weekend, Plantbased.com focused on legume benefits. On Saturday, chickpeas had their turn with our Chickpea Tuna Salad recipe.

On Sunday, fava beans grabbed the spotlight for their potential as a veganic gardener’s green manure crop.

Botanically speaking, legumes are plants that produce pods of edible seeds. Once the seeds mature and are removed from their  pods, they’re known as “pulses.”

People eating plant-based get much of their protein from pulses such as:

  • chickpeas
  • beans
  • peas
  • lentils 

 

Soy and peanuts are legumes but don’t qualify as pulses because of their fat content.

Our Chickpea Tuna Salad recipe emphasized chickpea’s positive effects on gut health. But extensive research shows that regularly consuming any pulse can make significant improvements in several serious health issues.

Let’s take a look!

Legume Benefits and Inflammation 

Did you know your liver manufactures C-reactive protein (CRP), an important inflammation marker? Our blood’s CRP level rises and falls with our inflammation level.

High CRP indicates inflammation but doesn’t pinpoint its source. It could signify heart disease, a stroke, or other inflammatory conditions.

CPR levels range from below 1 to 10 mg/L:

  • Low: below 1mg/L
  • Moderate:: 1 to 3 mg/L
  • High: 3 to 10 mg/L

 

Anyone with a level above 1 mg/L would benefit from a 40-percent drop. And according to this study, just four servings of legumes per week are enough to do the trick!

For eight weeks, a team of researchers from the University of Navarra’s Department of Nutrition works with 30 overweight to obese subjects.

They placed the participants in two groups eating two different calorie-restricted diets. One was legume-free.

The other ( the L-diet) included four weekly servings of cooked lentils, beans, chickpeas, or peas. A single serving ranged from 160 to 235 grams.

legume benefits
Lentil curry.

The L-diet group not only achieved the 40-percent CRP reduction, but they also lost more weight than the legume-free group.

And they didn’t stop there! The researchers also announced:

“Total and LDL cholesterol levels and systolic BP were improved only when consuming the L-diet.”

According to another study from Germany’s Max Rubner Institute, plant-based diets correlate with lower inflammation levels. Lead researcher Dr. Bernhard Watzl, writes:

“By means of anti-inflammatory activities, a plant-based diet may contribute to the lower risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer.”

And legumes may be a big reason why!

Legume Benefits and Cholesterol 

A randomized controlled trial from researchers at the University of Saskatchewan: Department of Kinesiology also pointed to a pulse diet’s cholesterol-lowering properties.

They split the trial’s 108 participants into two randomized groups. One continued their regular diet.

The other ate a pulse-based diet. It included two daily servings of beans, peas, lentils, or chickpeas.

legume benefits
Vegan white beans in tomato sauce.

After a one-month break, they resumed the study and switched diets. The study’s data showed that the pulse groups’ total cholesterol decreased over 8 percent on average when tallied.

Even more impressively, many in the pulse diet group lowered their cholesterol so much the researchers would no longer recommend starting them on statins. 

This NutritionFacts video supports the Saskatchewan trial’s results. Dr. Michael Greger reviews a study from UCONN-Farmington’s Department of Family Medicine:

“Researchers took people on a diet high enough in fat to rival the cholesterol levels in the Western world, up around 206. 

Swapped in chickpeas for some of the grains they were eating, and in five months, their cholesterol dropped about 20% to 160, almost down to the target, around 150.”

Legume Benefits and Arterial Function 

Inflammation can happen anywhere in your body, including in your arteries. So how happy would your arteries be if you found a food that reduces both C-reactive protein and cholesterol?

Well…

Dr. Greger commented on a joint University of Manitoba/ St. Bonface Hospital Research Center study on peripheral vascular disease. The study’s 26 participants were experiencing reduced lower-body blood flow.

legume benefits

For eight weeks, they added a 1/2 cup of cooked:     

  • beans
  • lentils
  • chickpeas

 

or peas to their usual diets. 

 At the end of eight weeks, four of the participant’s blood flow was within a normal range. Dr. Greger explains :

“But, eat some beans, and you may get a significant increase in blood flow]… after just eight weeks, eating some beans!”

The researchers agreed: “A legume-rich diet can elicit major improvements in arterial function.”

What Legume Benefits Sound Best to You?

What can legumes do for you?

  • Lower inflammation?
  • Lower cholesterol?
  • Happier arteries?

 

After absorbing all this research, I’ll be “taking my pulse” every day. So why not commit to a legume-powered diet and join me? 

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