Raise Your Pulses: 10 Health benefits of pulses to help menopause symptoms
Pulses are from the food grain family, legumes. Beans, soy beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas and peanuts are all part of this big happy pulse family.
We love them as they're a cheap, low-fat source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. They 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 one of the best foods to include in your menopause diet.
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 of a healthy balanced diet. Fibre may help to improve your heart 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 also make a healthy and inexpensive source of protein. They are made up of about 20-25 per cent of protein by weight, that’s double the protein content of wheat and triple of rice. As pulses don’t provide all of the essential amino acids we require for a balanced diet, including other grains and vegetables in your diet, you should mean you'll get the amino acids you need. Soy beans are the exception, 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.
Low risk of diabetes
Pulses are known to be a low-glycaemic index food. The glycaemic index ranks food on how it affects your blood sugar. Foods with a low glycaemic index cause low increases in blood sugar, while foods with a high glycaemic index cause a spike in blood sugar. It’s been found that people who include more low-glycaemic foods in their diet tend to have lower rates of diabetes. If you already have diabetes, including pulses in your diet could make it easier for you to manage your blood sugar.
Manage your appetite & weight
The low glycaemic index of pulses, mean they're broken down more slowly in your digestive tract, help you control your blood glucose levels after meals and manage your appetite and weight. Helpful to know!
Source of B vitamin's
Pulses are a good source of folate, a high-fibre B vitamin needed to produce and maintain new cells. Pulses can play a major role in maintaining your health during the menopausal years, they may help: to lower bad cholesterol levels (LDL), decrease the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. They're necessary for strong adrenal glands, a healthy nervous system and the conversion of carbohydrates into the glucose we need for energy. Folates in pulses may also alleviate memory loss and improve your concentration, so if you're suffering any of these menopause symptoms then including pulses in your diet might be of benefit to you. Be aware that the folate content does vary among the different pulses. So much goodness from such small things!
Ideal for intolerances
Pulses are good for people with gluten-intolerance or vegans, who aren't getting 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 per cent, 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. 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), which controls the levels of oestrogen and testosterone circulating in your blood, so helping to regulate your hormone balance. Epidemiological data from Japan, where diet contains large amounts of phytoestrogens mainly in the form of soya, suggest 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'. Eating legumes could improve your gut health by feeding the good bacteria.
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.
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.