Lentils lower cholesterol, blood pressure: study

Diets rich in lentils could lower high blood pressure and reverse damage to blood vessels without drugs.


New research conducted by University of Manitoba researchers Carla Taylor and Peter Zahradka has shown that eating lentils can help prevent the increases in blood pressure that come with age and correct changes occurring in blood vessels due to high blood pressure. 


Julianne Curran, director of nutrition, scientific and regulatory affairs for Pulse Canada, said Canada is the world’s largest producer and exporter of red and green lentils.


“It’s exciting because it’s a nutritional intervention than can potentially have this effect and it’s a homegrown one as well,” she said.


The study, which used rats as subjects at the Canadian Centre for Agri-Food Research in Health and Medicine in Winnipeg, will require further testing in animals before research begins in humans.


Health Canada recommends consuming three-quarters of a cup of lentils and pulses as meat alternatives per day, while U.S. guidelines suggest half a cup per day or three cups per week.


Curran said lentils are a lower fat option rich in fibre and vitamins, which can help lower cholesterol levels.


“It does seems that eating one-half cup per day is associated with positive health and nutritional effects,” she said.


The latest study builds on previous research, which indicated eating legumes such as beans and lentils can improve blood flow to the legs of people with peripheral artery disease.


Another study showed lentils were effective in preventing high blood pressure.