Beany’s second Career

22. January 2008
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Many a patient might be able to abandon expensive lipid- and cholesterol reducers: Half a cup of Pinto beans per day reduces the cholesterol- and lipid level by about 10 percent. The basic approach was discussed time and again - now the Human Nutrition Research Center of the United States Department of Agriculture submits a study as evidence.

The acquisition was made via internet and by newspaper ads, to get to the test persons, the researchers and Philip G. Reeves relied on the power of persuasion of media. At the end, the nutritional medicine specialists of the Human Nutrition Research Center in Grand Forks had what they needed for a study never made before: 40 men and the same number of women ready – for the sake of medicine – to spice up their food habits by consuming Pinto beans.

It is known for a long time that the legumes effectively support the reduction of lipid- and cholesterol levels. But for now not just US American physicians prescribe expensive drugs from the pipeline of the major pharmaceutical manufacturers or, for patients with rather low cholesterol, the counterparts of the phytopharmaceutical arsenal.

Beans instead of chicken soup

Perhaps it might work a lot cheaper as the team of Reeves now points out in the reputed professional Journal of Nutrition. Just 1 to 4 appetizers containing Pinto beans followed by completely normal food – whatever the test persons preferred – resulted in significant improvements of the observed serum HDL and LDL levels compared to the control group eating chicken soup as an entrée. “The study attests that consuming beans favors those lipid profiles in the organism reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases”, the researchers conclude.

The clear-cut power of the tiny cholesterol reducers are considered remarkable, already 130 grams per day lead to the desired effects. Above all the fact that risk patients are not stuck with any particular diet any longer appears promising. Although the food should be very low on fat as Reeves and his colleagues write in their publication. But the test persons do not have to do without any of their other food habits – with regular cholesterol reducing medication, physicians do not really recommend pork with sauerkraut!

In the US a show, in Germany a bit more dry

It is not quite clear why the colourful seeds develop such a cholesterol reducing effect. But scientist assume that the high share of dietary fibers – about 15 percent – intervene massively in the biochemical factory of the human body. This way several processes are triggered resulting in an increased excretion of cholesterol and its precursor substances, mainly bile acids, with the feces.
However, the bean offensive of the Americans is not a solitary case. In summer 2007, the Institut für Ernährungswissenschaften der Universität Jena (institute for nutritional sciences at the university in Jena/Germany) was looking for men and women the age between 18 and 45 “from Jena and proximities”. They were “supposed to – within a scientific study – be willing to eat 25 grams of a test fiber”, although not as pure bean.
The “tasteless powder” consists of legumes substances” and could have a positive effect on high cholesterol- and lipid levels”, as the researchers emphasise. But compared to Reeves who even showed on TV to advertise for his project in order to get enough test persons, the local researchers chose to rely on the locally more common, rather dry bait for their own legumes project: “The study is part of the research project FibreFood with the topic ‘Analysis of the bile acid absorption of leguminous fibers for development of cholesterol reducing food”.

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