DIETING
April 14, 2016

Dieters, Go For the Bean

Beans, or legumes, are filling, nutritious and low-fat, making them the perfect diet food. Don't overlook what they can do.

If you’re having trouble dropping pounds or worry about keeping them off, a serving of beans a day may be just the help you need.

Legumes are a class of vegetables that are naturally low in fat, cholesterol-free, high in vitamins and minerals, and good sources of fiber and protein. That means they are filling, but not fattening. It doesn't matter whether they're cannellini beans, garbanzos or chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, lentils or black-eyed peas.

Given that 90 percent of weight loss interventions do not produce lasting results, foods that make a person feel full longer can make a big difference in weight loss efforts.

People who daily eat as little as three-quarters of a cup of legumes — beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils — lost about one-half pound over six weeks without making an effort to reduce their intake of other foods, according to a new study that incorporated the findings of over 20 previous studies.

Even the people who eat legumes on any given day tend not to eat a full serving, leaving lots of room for them to bring more beans into their diets and potentially gain weight management benefits, the researchers say.

Even though the amount of weight loss was small, the study’s findings suggest that eating legumes daily may help with weight loss, and more importantly, prevent gaining it back. Given that 90 percent of weight loss interventions do not produce lasting results, foods that make a person feel full longer can make a big difference in weight loss efforts.

Known for their low glycemic index, which means they are digested slowly, legumes can be a healthy substitute for meat, which contains fat and cholesterol.

Previous research by the hospital’s Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Center found that a daily serving of legumes increased people’s feeling of fullness after eating by 31 percent and lowered “bad” cholesterol by five percent.

They can be used as side dishes or in soups, stews or casseroles. A pound of dried legumes yields five to six cups of cooked beans, and they freeze well after cooking. Canned beans are a good alternative if you rinse them to remove some of the added sodium.

If you’re not a bean eater, step out of your comfort zone. There are plenty of different types of legumes to choose from. You are bound to find one you like.

The study is published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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