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Legumes and Cardiovascular Disease

People who eat legumes are less likely to develop heart disease. Results from the US-based study NHANES indicates that legume consumption four or more times a week is associated with a 22% lower risk of coronary heart disease and an 11% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease compared to only eating legumes once per week.

Clinical trials indicate eating between ½ to 2 cups (75g – 300g) of cooked legumes a day may lower heart disease risk by:

  • Reducing LDL cholesterol
  • Increasing HDL cholesterol
  • lowering blood pressure
  • helping maintain healthy blood glucose levels
  • assisting with weight management

Suggested Mechanisms
The fatty acid profile, dietary fibre, isoflavones and antioxidants in legumes may contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease through their hypocholesterolaemic effect. Legumes are also good sources of saponins and phytosterols which may assist with decreasing absorption of cholesterol from the gut. With regards to blood pressure, soy isoflavone extracts have been found to reduce this major risk factor for heart disease, especially systolic blood pressure.

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