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Beans 'can mean cut in heart attack risk'

Beans means – lower cholesterol and a reduced risk of heart disease, according to researchers.

Just one daily serving of pulses such as haricot beans, chickpeas, lentils and peas can significantly lower levels of harmful cholesterol, a study has shown.

Even so, most people in the West would need to increase their consumption greatly to see any benefit.

Scientists analysed data on 1,037 people who took part in 26 diet and health studies that looked at the effect of pulses on cholesterol.

They found that consuming one serving (three-quarters of a cup) of non-oil seed pulses a day led to a 5pc reduction in levels of "bad" cholesterol, or low-density lipoprotein (LDL).


Pooling together results of different studies in this way – known as meta-analysis – can uncover otherwise hidden trends.

Dr John Sievenpiper, a member of the Canadian and US team from St Michael's Hospital, Toronto, said: "The reduction of 5pc in our meta-analysis suggests a potential risk reduction of 5pc in major vascular events."

Only 13pc of Canadians consume pulses on any given day – and among those who do the average intake is only about half a serving, said Dr Sievenpiper. In the US pulse consumption is even lower, working out at typically 0.2 servings per person per day.

"We have a lot of room in our diets for increasing our pulse intake," Dr Sievenpiper added.