People who ate one serving (3/4 cup) of non-oil-seed legumes a day exhibited a 5% reduction in LDL cholesterol.
Chickpeas, beans, lentils or peas can keep away "bad cholesterol" with just one serving per day.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is one of the most important risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Non-oil-seed pulses, such as beans, chickpeas, lentils and peas, are already recommended as part of dietary guidelines to prevent major chronic diseases. A large observational study has also linked consumption of these pulses with lower LDL cholesterol levels.
The researchers acknowledge though that legume intake in many Western countries, such as Canada and the US, is quite low.
"Canadians have a lot of room in their diets to increase their pulse intake and derive cardiovascular benefits," states Dr. Sievenpiper. "Only 13% consume pulses on any given day, and of those who do, the average intake is only about a half serving."
As well as improving LDL cholesterol, eating legumes every day could have other beneficial effects that may protect against cardiometabolic problems. These could include improving body weight, blood pressure and glucose control.