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Beans, Peas, Chickpeas, Lentils Increase Fullness and Could Help Manage Weight

Eating about one serving a day of  beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils can increase fullness, which may lead to better weight management and weight loss, a new study from a University of Toronto expert has found.

by Leslie Shepherd-University of Toronto News Office
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Many varieties of beans, chickpeas and lentils are quite filling.Photo by International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics via FlickrA systematic review and meta-analysis of all available clinical trials found that people felt 31 per cent fuller after eating on average 160 grams of "pulses" — a dietary group including beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils — compared with a control diet, according to senior author and U of T alumnus Dr. John Sievenpiper of St. Michael’s Hospital’s Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre, an organization fully affiliated with the University of Toronto. 

His group’s findings were published in the August issue of the journal Obesity.

Sievenpiper said that despite their known health benefits, only 13 per cent of Canadians eat pulses on any given day and most do not eat a full serving, which is 130 grams or three-quarters of a cup. That's despite beans, peas and lentils being common Canadian crops. 

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“That means eating local, being more sustainable and receiving many health benefits,” he said.

Pulses have a low glycemic index (meaning that they are foods that  break down slowly) and can be used to reduce or displace animal protein as well as “bad” fats such as trans fat in a dish or meal.

Dr. Sievenpiper noted that 90 per cent of weight loss interventions fail, resulting in weight regain, which may be due in part to hunger and food cravings. Knowing which foods make people feel fuller longer may help them lose weight and keep it off.

He said the finding that pulses make people feel fuller was true across various age categories and body mass indexes.

Although the analysis found pulses had little impact on “second meal food intake” — the amount of food someone eats at his or her next meal — these findings support longer term clinical trials that have shown a weight loss benefit of dietary pulses.

Sievenpiper’s systematic review and meta-analysis included nine clinical trials involving 126 participants out of more than 2,000 papers screened. 

This trial was funded by Pulse Canada and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.

Another recently published systematic review and meta-analysis by Dr. Sievenpiper’s research group found that eating on average one serving a day of beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils can also reduce “bad cholesterol” by five per cent and therefore lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.