If you’re looking for another way to keep your cholesterol down, try beans. A new study from researchers at St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto suggests that eating one serving a day of beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils can significantly reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. The researchers showed that this one serving could lower LDL by 5 percent which in turn will translate into a five to six percent reduction in risk of cardiovascular disease. It’s another reason to include these nutrition super-stars regularly in your diet.
One serving is 3/4 cup/175 ml and could include black beans, navy beans, pinto beans, white beans, kidney beans, fava beans, plus chickpeas (garbanzo beans), or lentils. Often referred to as pulses, these foods are great because they have a huge nutrition profile, are versatile and inexpensive. They are a staple in a vegetarian diet and for non-vegetarians, they are tasty as a main course meat alternative, in a side dish, soup or salad.
Nutritionally speaking, they are rich in protein (3/4 cup/175 ml cooked kidney beans has 12 grams, equivalent to 1.5 ounces of meat), fibre (3/4 cup lentils has 11 grams), folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. Much of the fibre in legumes is the soluble kind that is linked to lowering cholesterol and they also are a source of low glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates, helpful for people with diabetes.
If you want a health boost, here are ten ways to add beans to your diet:
- Make a lentil, bean and barley or split pea soup
- Cook a vegetarian chili with kidney beans and black beans.
- Enjoy a mixed bean salad made with black beans, red and white kidney beans and chickpeas.
- Add beans to tacos, quesadillas and burritos
- Add kidney beans to your pasta sauce
- Toss chickpeas into your Greek salad
- Make hummus or another bean dip to use as a dip or a spread on bread.
- Add cooked beans into leafy green salads or sautéed leafy greens
- Add cooked chickpeas or beans to couscous or other grain dishes
- Cook pasta fagioli – pasta with beans