Pinto Beans Whack Cholesterol
If you’re looking for maximum cholesterol-lowering power, you’ll want to eat pinto beans regularly.
In a recent study, pinto beans were pitted against black-eyed peas. People who ate one-half cup of pinto beans daily for eight weeks as part of their regular diet had a mean drop in total cholesterol of 19 points, or 8.4%, compared with 2.5 points for people eating black-eyed peas. (Each 1% drop in cholesterol reduces your risk for heart disease by about 2%.) The pinto bean eaters also had a significant drop of 14 points for “bad” LDL cholesterol.
How do the beans do it? Fiber, for one thing. One-half cup of pinto beans contains 5.4 grams of fiber, and 3.7 grams of that is soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol in the intestine and keep it from being absorbed. Beans can also displace fatty foods in the diet, but in this study, both groups were eating the same amount of fat. When beans are substituted for carbohydrates, like potatoes or pasta, they help lower triglycerides. (Winham, DM, et al. JACN 2007 26(3):243-9.)
Studies show that, in general, eating any kind of legumes regularly can reduce cholesterol levels by 5% to 7%. Add some oatmeal, olive oil and lots of fresh vegetables and you just might be able to keep your cholesterol within a healthy range without drugs.