Legumes are a class of vegetables that includes beans, peas and lentils. Studies that have evaluated the beneficial effect of legume consumption on cholesterol have primarily focused on soybeans and isoflavones. Yet, in many cultures a significant part of the diet includes non-soy legumes, such as beans, lentils and peas. A recent meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials indicates that non-soy legume consumption also lowers cholesterol levels.
Data from ten trials representing 268 participants were examined using a random effects model. The mean net change in total cholesterol for those treated with a legume diet compared to control group was −11.8mg/dL. The mean net change in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL) was −8.0mg/dL.
Hummus blended with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and fresh minced garlic nurtures arteries and helps lower troublesome cholesterol. The cardiovascular benefits of extra virgin olive oil are detailed in the January 2011 entries (see left sidebar for the index). Bean soups provide healthy fiber, a good source of artery relaxing potassium and are also cholesterol friendly. Homemade hummus and bean soups tend to be more heart friendly than pre-made store brought products. In general, prepared foods have high salt content. High salt intake stresses the arteries, which then contributes to high blood pressure.
Legumes are typically low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. Legumes such as edamame, soy nuts, lima beans, navy beans and lentils provide a good source of protein, and contain beneficial fats, soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber absorbs excess cholesterol and toxins like a sponge, insoluble fiber sweeps out excess cholesterol/toxins.
Potassium comforts blood pressure by helping relax arteries.
Legumes are high potassium foods.One-half cup of cooked pinto beans contains 400 mg of potassium, lentils 365 mg, dried peas 355 mg
Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA, USA
Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
Volume 21, Issue 2, Pages 94-103, February 2011