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Eating one serving a day of beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils could contribute to modest weight loss, a study suggests.

Eating just 130 grams each day of these foods known as pulses led to a weight loss of 0.34 kilograms, in a systematic review and meta-analysis of all available clinical trials on the effects of eating pulses. The paper, by lead author Dr Russell de Souza, a researcher with Toronto's St. Michael’s Hospital, was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The research builds on previous work by the hospital’s Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre, that a daily serving of pulses makes people feel fuller than if they ate a control diet, and that eating pulses can significantly reduce “bad cholesterol.”

The meta-analysis looked at 21 clinical trials involving 940 adult men and women, who lost an average of 0.34 kg over six weeks with the addition of a single serving of pulses to the diet - and without making a particular effort to reduce other foods. Pulses have a low glycemic index (meaning that they are foods that break down slowly) and can be used to reduce or displace animal protein as well as “bad” fats such as trans-fat in a dish or meal.

“Though the weight loss was small, our findings suggest that simply including pulses in your diet may help you lose weight, and we think more importantly, prevent you from gaining it back after you lose it,” Dr de Souza said.