Can adding this type of food to your diet help you lose weight?
For the study, the researchers examined 21 clinical trials involving more than 900 adults and found that over six weeks, those that added three-quarters of a cup of these foods to their daily diet lost on average .75 pounds – even without making any other changes to their diet.
While less than a pound may not seem significant to some, think of it this way: the participants added food to their diet, made no other changes and lost weight!
These foods are considered pulses. “Pulses are part of the legume family, but refer only to dried seed and include dried peas, edible beans, lentils, and chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans),” says Rosemary Mueller, a registered dietitian at Advocate Medical Group Weight Management in Park Ridge, Ill.
“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.” said Dr. Russell de Souza, the lead author of the study. “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.”
So what’s the secret to eating beans, lentils and chickpeas?
“These foods are powerhouses of nutrition containing protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and other minerals as well as several vitamins and phytochemicals (plant chemicals which may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer and other diseases),” says Mueller.
They have a low glycemic index, which means that they are digested and metabolize more slowly, which delays the onset of being hungry so you feel fuller longer. Mueller explains that they are also heart-healthy, as they contain no cholesterol and little fat or sodium.
So are pulses a ‘magical’ weight loss food?
Mueller is skeptical. “I wish I could say pulses had ‘magical’ health or proven weight management advantages; however, that is simply not true,” she says. “When all is said and done, they offer a good nutritional boost to a diet, but more long-term trials need to be done to monitor any minimal weight change that may have occurred.”
About the Author
Jacqueline Hughes is a former manager, media relations at Advocate Aurora Health. Previously, she was the public affairs and marketing manager at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL. She earned her BA in psychology at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Jackie has 10 plus years experience working in television and media and most recently worked at NBC 5 in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, going to the movies and spending time with her family.