Many diets are based on cutting out entire food groups, like carbs. My clients find these plans restrictive and frustrating; they just reinforce the idea that weight loss is about deprivation. But it doesn’t have to be. Plenty of research shows that you can shed pounds by adding foods to your diet—in particular, carbs! My new book, Slim Down Now, centers on eating the right carbs.
The latest science says that just as not all calories are created equal, not all carbs are created equal. There’s an awesome kind called pulses, the edible goodies that come from plants in the legume family, which include lentils, chickpeas, and many varieties of beans.
On average, Americans down 6 ½ pounds of pulses a year. That’s nothing! Over in Brazil, the country’s food pyramid singles out beans as a food group to be consumed daily. Why? Because pulses help you stay slim and healthy.
If you eat lentil soup, you know how filling pulses are; research even reveals that they can head off cravings for processed foods. In a University of Toronto study of overweight people, one group added 5 cups of pulses to their diets each week. The other group simply ate 500 fewer calories a day. After two months, both groups lost weight—the pulse eaters without cutting a single calorie.
Pulses can reduce belly fat as well, a major risk factor for heart disease. One study in the British Journal of Nutrition tracked overweight adults who, twice a day for 28 days, ate muffins containing either whole-pea flour, fractionated pea flour (hulls only), or white-wheat flour. The women who ate the muffins with whole-pea flour ended up with the lowest waist-to-hip ratios, indicating that fat was directed away from the waistline. It helps that pulses are a top source of soluble fiber, shown to whittle midsection pudge.
Pulses have anticancer benefits, too. When Harvard University researchers analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study II, they found that women who ate beans or lentils at least twice a week were 24% less likely to get breast cancer than those who had them less than once a month. Pulses have also been shown to lower the risk of developing colon cancer by one third.
The proof is clear: Pulses should have a daily place in your diet.
These pulse-based recipes may have simple ingredients and steps—but they pack a whole lot of flavor, and they’re very satisfying. Enjoy!
Balsamic Lentil Quinoa Lettuce Cups
Ginger Shrimp with Almond Sauce
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