Eating beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas all help people lose weight, a review of the research finds.
People in the studies lost weight by adding a single daily serving of these foods, without making any other changes to their diet or lifestyle.
In other words, they did not reduce their calorie intake, skip meals or track what they ate.
They just added around three-quarters of a cup of these foods to what they normally ate each day.
The group of foods, known as pulses, are effective because they increase feelings of fullness by 31%, studies show.
Other pulses include:
- Runner beans,
- black-eyed peas,
- broad beans,
- kidney beans,
- and butter beans.
Dr Russell de Souza, who led the Canadian study, said:
“Despite their known health benefits, only 13 per cent of Canadians eat pulses on any given day and most do not eat the full serving.
So there is room for most of us to incorporate dietary pulses in our diet and realize potential weight management benefits.”
The research analysed the results of 21 separate clinical trials.
The combined results showed that people lost an average of a half-a-pound in six weeks, without dieting.
Pulses have a low glycemic index, meaning the body takes a while to break them down.
This helps people feel more full, said Dr 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.”
Pulses have the added benefit of reducing the levels of bad cholesterol in the body by around 5 percent.
They also lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Dr de Souza said:
“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.”
The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Kim et al., 2016).