Did you know that we're currently living in the International Year of Pulses, as designated by the United Nations? No? Well get out your kazoos and party hats, because pulses are definitely worth celebrating. And new reasons to appreciate them keep popping up: The latest is a March 2016 review of 21 studies found that adults who added a daily serving of pulses to their otherwise unchanged diets lost weight.
But let's slow down for a second: What are pulses? They're legumes that grow inside a pod and are harvested for dry grain — think dried beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils. Pulses are great sources of fiber, protein, and a handful of other nutrients like iron and zinc. They also contain phytochemicals, which may help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Put simply, now's the perfect time to rekindle your relationship with beans.
How many pulses do you actually need to eat to see weight-loss results? In the review, adding about 3/4 cup (130 grams) of pulses each day led to an average weight loss of .75 pounds over a six week period. That might not sound like much, but when you consider that the studies' participants didn't do anything else to try to lose weight during that time, it makes sense to chew on some chickpeas.
If you're not sure how to incorporate pulses into your diet, don't fret. Dr. Oz loves to purée them to spread on sandwiches, turn them into different types of hummus, toss them into salads for texture, add them into soups, or sneak them into brownies. His dessert recommendation? Use a 15-ounce can of black beans in place of a cup of the recipe's flour.