how lentils can lower your cholesterol levels

lentils lower cholesterol

Lentils may be small, but their nutritional benefits are substantial. Researchers are increasingly examining the effects of regular lentil consumption, especially on those at high risk for metabolic diseases.

The latest study, published in the journal Nutrients, indicates significant health benefits for individuals with a larger waist circumference and high post-meal triglycerides. Over 12 weeks, participants who consumed lentils daily experienced lower levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, total cholesterol, post-meal blood sugar, and inflammation.

Health Implications of Lentil Consumption

High cholesterol, blood sugar, and inflammation are major contributors to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. The authors of the study suggest that lentil-based diets could be pivotal in reducing disease risk and managing metabolic disorders.

Pulses, which include lentils, kidney beans, dry peas, and chickpeas, are known for their health benefits. Dr. Will Bulsiewicz, a gastroenterologist and medical director at ZOE, highlighted the study’s limitations, including its small sample size of 38 participants, all at high risk for metabolic disease. Nevertheless, the findings are consistent with previous research.

Lentils for Lunch: A Closer Examination

Previous research has often overlooked the broad metabolic health impacts of lentils. To address this gap, scientists conducted a 12-week trial comparing lentil-based and meat-based meals.

Half of the participants ate midday meals containing approximately three-quarters of a cup of lentils, surpassing the USDA’s recommended weekly intake of 1.5 cups of cooked pulses for adults on a 2,000-calorie diet. The other half consumed similar meals with turkey or chicken instead of lentils.

Blood tests and surveys revealed that those who ate lentils had better metabolic health markers. Importantly, there was no significant difference in gastrointestinal issues between the groups, indicating that lentils did not cause more severe GI stress.

Mechanisms Behind the Benefits of Lentils

Lentils may improve metabolic health through several mechanisms. According to Dr. Bulsiewicz, fermentable fiber in lentils interacts with gut microbes to produce short-chain fatty acids like propionate, which enhance insulin sensitivity and slow sugar absorption. This results in better blood sugar control.

The protein and resistant starch in lentils also contribute to stabilizing blood sugar levels. For cholesterol, soluble fiber in lentils helps reduce levels by limiting cholesterol absorption and promoting its elimination during bowel movements.

Lentils are rich in saponins, compounds linked to lower cholesterol, and polyphenols, known for their anti-inflammatory effects. These factors collectively help in reducing inflammation.

Incorporating Lentils into Your Diet

Given their nutritional benefits, incorporating lentils into your diet is highly recommended. They are versatile and can be added to soups, stews, pastas, salads, and even made into a hummus-like dip for a healthy snack.

Summary

Daily consumption of lentils can significantly lower cholesterol, blood sugar, and inflammation without causing gastrointestinal stress. This makes them a valuable addition to the diet, particularly for those at risk of metabolic diseases. The study underscores the potential of lentils to enhance overall metabolic health and provides a basis for developing pulse-based dietary strategies

A Quick Review

Consuming less than one cup of lentils daily for 12 weeks can significantly lower LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, post-meal blood sugar, and inflammation in people at high risk for metabolic diseases. Lentils’ high fiber content and bioactive compounds contribute to these health benefits without causing gastrointestinal issues

FAQS

How do lentils help lower cholesterol?

Lentils contain soluble fiber, which helps limit cholesterol absorption and facilitates its elimination through bowel movements.

What is the impact of lentils on blood sugar levels?

Lentils’ fermentable fiber and resistant starch slow sugar absorption and improve insulin sensitivity, leading to better blood sugar control.

Can daily lentil consumption cause gastrointestinal issues?

According to the study, participants consuming lentils did not experience more severe gastrointestinal issues compared to those eating meat-based meals.

What are the additional health benefits of lentils?

Besides lowering cholesterol and blood sugar, lentils reduce inflammation and provide essential nutrients like protein, fiber, and bioactive compounds such as saponins and polyphenols.

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