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Eating Pulses Helps Weight Loss, Says Researchers

Update Date: Apr 08, 2016 05:37 AM EDT

A new study suggests that pulses, a variety of legume, can help in weight loss and maintenance.

Pulses can help people on diet feel fuller; hence, shed unwanted pounds, according to an analysis of data from 21 clinical trials, Web MD reported.

"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," study lead author Russell de Souza, a researcher at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, said in a hospital news release.

"These types of legumes are some of the most underappreciated foods around," said Dana Angelo White, a nutritionist and assistant professor of sports medicine at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. "They are full of fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals," she added. "It makes sense they would help facilitate weight loss and reduce cholesterol when eaten regularly."

The team also noted that pulses are low in glycemic index. This made pulses to slowly break down in the digestive tract and also a good alternative to protein from animals and unhealthy fats.

The trial was made with 940 adult participants. They have included a three-fourths cup of pulses on their daily meals. In six weeks, the participants lost an average of 0.75 pounds without avoiding other types of foods. However, lentils, beans, and other pulses are known to make people feel fuller prior to the study, according to de Souza's team.

This is the key to weight loss as 90 percent of weight loss program fails due to the influence of food cravings and hunger, said de Souza.

"This new study fits well with our previous work, which found that pulses increased the feeling of fullness by 31 per cent, which may indeed result in less food intake," he said.

Pulses such as dried peas, dried beans, lentils, and chickpeas are high in fiber and protein. Many of them are also a good source of carbohydrates. A cup of lentils, for example, has 16 grams of fiber, 18 grams of protein and 40 grams of carbohydrates, Care 2 reported.

While how pulses help weight loss is unclear, the researchers at St. Michael's suggest that its high fiber content plays a big role in the equation. A study in 2015 showed that consuming 30 grams of fiber every day helped participants lose weight.

United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has declared 2016 as "The International Year of Pulses."

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