The newest weight-loss superfood has been right under our, uh, noses all along. New data published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirmed that beans, along with lentils and chickpeas, are proving themselves to be magical fruit indeed.
For the study, researchers analyzed 21 clinical trials involving over 900 participants and found that adding three-quarters of a cup of these babies to your daily menu (just slightly more than the recommended 1/2 cup serving) can spark weight loss, even without making any other changes.
“These are unique in that they’re one of the only foods with protein, fiber, and complex carbs,” says Cynthia Sass, author of Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches with Pulses—The New Superfood. That trifecta slows digestion, delaying the onset of hunger so you stay full for longer.
Even better, research indicates that the fiber in peas, lentils, and chickpeas may actually prevent your body from absorbing calories from these foods, says Sass. And because they’re rich in a whole spectrum of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants (red beans rival berries in these free radical-slaying compounds), they have other health-boosting, disease-fighting properties as well.
But for all their amazing benefits, not everyone has been enthusiastic about gobbling them up. The average person downs just 3kg of beans per year, says to Sass. To put that in perspective, we chew our way through 15kg of cheese and a whopping 33.5kg of red meat in the same timespan, she says. Dang.
Beans, particularly, don’t have the sexiest reputation (because farts), but Sass says, the idea that eating them leads to bloating and gas is undeserved. Studies have found that beans cause far less digestive distress than people expect. “Your body will adjust if you eat them regularly enough,” Sass says.
An easy way to start? Sub them for meat (in burgers, burritos, or omelets), or starch (rich or pasta). Sass swears by adding white beans to smoothies—it sounds gross, but it makes the drink really thick and creamy, and you barely taste it. Flours and pastas made from beans or chickpeas can be a good option, too—plus they're naturally gluten-free.
However you choose to get more of these fat-blasting pellets into your life (if you need help getting started, try these kick-ass hummus upgrades), we're all for it!