10 health benefits of pulses to help with menopause symptoms

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Pulses are from the food grain family, also known as legumes. Beans, soybeans, lentils, peas, chickpeas and peanuts are all part of this big happy pulse family.

We love pulses. They're a cheap, low-fat source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals, and count towards your recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables, thus making them a healthy addition to your meal plan. 

We give you 10 reasons why pulses are a great food to include in your menopause diet.

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Good for Your Heart

Including more pulses in your diet during menopause may help to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. Pulses are high in fibre, an important element in a healthy balanced diet, which may help to improveheart health by lowering cholesterol levels. Pulses are also high in potassium. Including more potassium-rich foods in your diet can lower blood pressure by counteracting the effects of sodium.

High in Protein

Pulses are a healthy and inexpensive source of protein, made up of about 20-25 percent of protein by weight, having double the protein content of wheat and triple that of rice. Most pulses don’t provide all of the essential amino acids we need for a balanced diet but including other grains and vegetables in your diet, should help you to meet all amino acid requirements. soy beans are different, they’re one of only a few plant foods that provide all of the essential amino acids, making it a complete source of protein like meat.

Lower Risk of Diabetes

Pulses have a low-glycaemic (GI) index, a method of ranking how food affects blood sugar. Low-GI foods cause a small rise in blood sugar, whilst foods with a high GI, cause a spike in blood sugar. It’s been found that people who include more low-GI foods in their diet tend to have lower rates of diabetes. Including pulses in your diet could make it easier for you to manage your blood sugar.

Manage your appetite & weight

As pulses have a low GI, they are broken down more slowly in your digestive tract which may help you control your blood glucose levels after meals, manage your appetite and weight.

Source of B vitamin

Pulses are a good source of folate, a B vitamin, needed to produce and maintain new cells, playing a major role in maintaining your health during the menopausal years. Research suggests that B-vitamins such as folate, with its high fibre content may help lower bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and decrease the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. They are necessary for strong adrenal glands, a healthy nervous system and the conversion of carbohydrates into the glucose we need for energy. B vitamins may also help with memory loss and improve your concentration so Including pulses in your diet might help. Be aware that the folate content does vary among the different pulses.

Ideal for intolerances

Pulses are great for people with gluten intolerances or who are following a vegan diet. Neither group no longer get protein from meat, fish or dairy products. A study conducted by Dr Russell de Souza from St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto found that pulses increased the feeling of fullness by 31 percent, which may result in lower food intake and therefore may help you lose weight.

They contain phytoestrogens

What’s a phytoestrogen you may ask? That's lentils, chickpeas, soy and legumes to the rest of us. There has been some evidence to suggest that phytoestrogens may help to support women during the menopause by producing oestrogen-like effects in the body. They also stimulate the liver to produce sex-hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), this controls the levels of oestrogen and testosterone circulating in your blood, and therefore may regulate your hormone balance. Epidemiological data from Japan, whose diets contains large amounts of phytoestrogens, mainly in the form of soya, suggests that they may alleviate some menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes. However, the topic of soy consumption remains controversial, and research into the effects of soy on the menopause has been varied so if you're concerned, stick with foods like lentils.

Good for your guts

Dried beans and peas are also high in prebiotics (non-digestible food ingredients that help healthy bacteria in the gut grow). Paediatrician, Mark Manaray, MD, at Washington University in St. Louis’s Institute for Public Health. “Nutrition is in the middle of a busy intersection of nutrients, protein, and gut health”. Legumes should improve your gut health by feeding its good bacteria.

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Don't let flatulence put you off pulses

Those blessed baked beans are renowned for making us windy. This is because beans contain indigestible carbohydrates. Soaking and rinsing dry beans before cooking, as well as rinsing canned beans in water, can help to reduce these hard to digest carbohydrates. Don't let a bit of wind put you off eating pulses. People react differently to certain foods and you may find that these symptoms subside, especially if you increase your intake gradually.

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Ideal for iron intake

Pulses contain iron which helps to transport oxygen throughout our bodies. A lack of iron may cause fatigue, shortness of breath and dizziness.

So, if you’re suffering any of the above there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain by including these perfect little pulses in your menopause diet.

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