Usually a weight loss plan calls for restriction: You remove a food from your daily eats to drop pounds. But new research is advising you to add to your meal plan -- as long as that added food falls into the family of pulses.
Pulses are the dried seeds of the legume branch. So in other words, eat your beans. Or peas, chickpeas and lentils. These foods will help you lose weight and feel fuller longer, according to a new analysis of existing studies conducted by researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in Canada.
Their study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, reveals that a daily serving of beans and other pulses can contribute to a modest weight loss and reduced cholesterol levels.
Researchers analyzed 21 previous clinical trials that involved 940 adults who lost an average of three-quarters of a pound over six weeks. The participants had aded a single serving of pulses to their diet, and did not make any specific efforts to restrict or reduce other food intake.
Their finding accompanies previous research that found consuming a single serving of legumes makes people feel fuller.
"This new study fits well with our previous work, which found that pulses increased the feeling of fullness by 31 percent, which may indeed result in less food intake," Russell de Souza, the study's lead author and researcher with the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital, said in a statement.
The majority of diets are proven to fail, so choosing to add foods, rather than take them away, may be a sneaky, smart way to overcome the struggle-filled weight loss battle.
"Though the weight loss was small, our findings suggest that simply including pulses in your diet may help you lose weight, and we think more importantly, prevent you from gaining it back after you lose it," de Souza said.
The research provides an opportunity for those looking to clean up their diets to include new foods into their regimens, and discover satisfying, healthy ways to stay full.
Better yet, eating a pulse-rich diet has been shown to reduce bad cholesterol by up to five percent, a previous study found, and thus lowers the risk for heart disease.
It's all good news with beans, especially since they can be bought cheaply in bulk and cooked up in multiple ways to please any palette. Pulses are also a notable source of vegetarian protein, which makes reducing one's meat intake (another healthy choice) much easier to do.
It's no wonder the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization deemed 2016 as the International Year of Pulses. Good job, beans.