New study shows eating pulses every day improves blood vessel function and fights heart disease

    NEW ORLEANS, April 20 /CNW/ - Eating beans and peas every day is not only
good for you; it can help fight cardiovascular disease - the number one cause
of death worldwide.
    A new clinical study by researchers at the Canadian Centre for Agri-Food
Research in Health and Medicine (CCARM) shows that daily consumption of pulses
- beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas - leads to major improvements in blood
vessel function in individuals with peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a
condition in which blood flow to the limbs is reduced. Study findings were
presented today at the Experimental Biology conference in New Orleans.
    Over 10 million people in North America suffer from PAD and many more are
undiagnosed. PAD is a form of atherosclerosis, a progressive disease that
leads to narrowing and hardening of the blood vessels in the legs. PAD causes
pain, cramping or numbness when walking and, in severe cases, can lead to
amputation. The clinical study showed that eating half a cup of pulses a day
for eight weeks resulted in significant improvements in arterial function such
as increased blood flow and decreased arterial stiffness.
    "Eating pulses brings back that arterial flexibility and may actually
reverse the disease process," explains CCARM team leader Dr. Peter Zahradka,
who conducted the study with human nutritionist Dr. Carla Taylor and Dr. Randy
Guzman, a vascular surgeon at St. Boniface Hospital. "We were astonished when
we saw the results - the improvement in vessel function through diet was much
greater than our best expectations."
    Regular pulse consumption also reduced the body mass index of study
participants and significantly reduced circulating total and LDL cholesterol
levels. Study findings also showed that regular pulse consumption increased
the dietary intake of fibre, folate, Vitamin C, iron, zinc, potassium and
    "The study tells us that by making a few simple changes in your diet, you
can improve your health significantly, potentially reducing the need for
expensive pharmaceuticals," says Dr. Taylor. "Pulses are a true functional
food - they may offer significant protection against cardiovascular disease,
are readily available and the amount can be easily integrated into an everyday
    CCARM is a partnership between the University of Manitoba, St. Boniface
Hospital and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and is located in Winnipeg,
Canada. The study was one of seven clinical trials funded by Pulse Canada,
with support from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and Canada's pulse
grower associations. Pulse Canada is the national association representing
growers, processors and traders of Canadian pulses.

For further information:

For further information: Tracey Thompson, Director of Marketing &
Communications, Pulse Canada, Cell (204) 291-8730; Bill Peters, Manager,
Communications & Media Services, St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre, Ph.
(204) 258-1325

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