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Eating more dietary pulses can increase fullness, may help manage weight

Pulses have low glycemic index, can reduce or displace animal protein, 'bad' fats

St. Michael's Hospital


IMAGE: Eating about one serving a day of beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils can increase fullness, which may lead to better weight management and weight loss, according to a new... view more

Credit: Courtesy of St. Michael's Hospital

TORONTO, Aug. 5, 2014 - Eating about one serving a day of beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils can increase fullness, which may lead to better weight management and weight loss, a new study has found.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of all available clinical trials found that people felt 31 per cent fuller after eating on average 160 grams of dietary pulses compared with a control diet, according to senior author Dr. John Sievenpiper of St. Michael's Hospital's Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre.

His group's findings were published in the August issue of the journal Obesity.

Dr. Sievenpiper said that despite their known health benefits, only 13 per cent of Canadians eat pulses on any given day and most do not eat a full serving, which is 130 grams or ¾ cup.

Pulses have a low glycemic index (meaning that they are foods that break down slowly) and can be used to reduce or displace animal protein as well as "bad" fats such as trans fat in a dish or meal.

Dr. Sievenpiper noted that 90 per cent of weight loss interventions fail, resulting in weight regain, which may be due in part to hunger and food cravings. Knowing which foods make people feel fuller longer may help them lose weight and keep it off.

He said the finding that pulses make people feel fuller was true across various age categories and Body Mass Indexes.

Although the analysis found pulses had little impact on "second meal food intake," the amount of food someone eats at his or her next meal, these findings support longer term clinical trials that have shown a weight loss benefit of dietary pulses.

Dr. Sievenpiper said another bonus from eating pulses is that they are Canadian crops.

"That means eating local, being more sustainable and receiving many health benefits," he said.

Dr. Sievenpiper's systematic review and meta-analysis included nine clinical trials involving 126 participants out of more than 2,000 papers screened.


This trial was funded by Pulse Canada and the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.

Another recently published systematic review and meta-analysis by Dr. Sievenpiper's research group found that eating on average one serving a day of beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils can also reduce "bad cholesterol" by five per cent and therefore lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St Michael's Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital's recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

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Zucchini and Yellow Split Pea Saute

Makes: 8 servings

Source of: Fiber, Vitamins E, B6, B12 and C, Thiamin, Riboflavin

Good Source of: Potassium, Zinc

Excellent Source of: Folate

1 T. olive oil
2 green onions, chopped
2 medium zucchini, sliced
1 cup dried yellow split peas, cooked according to package
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
1 cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
1 large red onion, sliced into rings
Dash each of garlic powder, light soy sauce and pepper


  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.
  2. Sauté green onions and zucchini slices until slightly tender, about five minutes. Add cooked yellow split peas. Stir gently.
  3. Layer tomato slices over top and sprinkle with 2/3 cup shredded cheese. Layer onion rings over mixture and add remaining cheese. Sprinkle garlic powder, soy sauce and pepper over top.
  4. Reduce heat to low, place lid on the pan and heat ingredients for about five minutes. Serve immediately.

Recipe from:

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