Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is one of the leading causes of mortality
worldwide, accounting for over 17 million deaths annually according to
the World Heart Federation. Luckily, there is growing evidence to suggest
plant-based diets can be an effective tool in preventing cardiovascular
disease. While limiting consumption of meats and processed foods is shown
to be beneficial in preventing CVD, incorporating plants into the diet
is also key to a healthy heart. One of the reasons these plant foods are
so beneficial to our health is their fiber content. In addition to supporting
heart health, fiber intake promotes gut health, satiety, blood sugar stabilization,
bowel movement regulation, helps lower cholesterol and keeps us full while
offering long lasting energy.
The American Heart Association recommends adults should aim for 25-30 grams
of fiber daily. In order to achieve this, many plant-based foods offer
a good source of fiber. Among these foods, beans, peas and lentils, otherwise
known as ‘pulses’, are perhaps the most underrated sources of fiber.
While the term “pulses” is often used interchangeably with
“legumes” and “beans”, they have distinct meanings.
A pulse is specifically the edible seed portion of a legume plant, whereas
legumes refer to the entirety of the plant with its stems, leaves and
pods. Beans, lentils and peas are all examples of pulses. In addition
to their high fiber content, these little wonders are also naturally low
in fat and boast a high vitamin and mineral content! Most beans also contain
about 7 grams of protein per half cup.
Packed with nutrients, pulses make a perfect addition to any meal and can
easily fortify soups, spreads and salads! Try these recipes for a quick
and easy way to incorporate pulses into your diet!
Red Lentil Chili
- 2 Tbsp avocado oil
- 1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
- 1 medium red pepper, diced
- 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper
- 1 small jalapeño, diced (remove seeds for less heat)
- 4 cloves garlic (or 2 Tbsp minced garlic)
- 3 Tbsp chili powder blend
- 2 Tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 cans (15 oz each) diced tomatoes
- 3 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 ¾ cup water
- ¾ cup dry red lentils (thoroughly rinsed in cold water and drained)
- 1 can (15 oz) kidney beans (slightly drained)
- 1 can (15 oz) black beans (slightly drained)
- 1 Tbsp coconut sugar (or maple syrup)
- 1 can (15 oz) corn, drained (optional)
- Fresh chopped cilantro
- Rice or Quinoa
- Heat a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, onion and red pepper.
Season with a healthy pinch each of salt and pepper and stir. Sauté
for 3-4 minutes, stir frequently.
- Add jalapeño and garlic to a mortar and pestle and crush into a
rough paste (alternatively, blend in a small food processor or finely
mince). Add to the pot with onion and red pepper, and season with another
pinch of salt and pepper.
- Add 2/3 of the chili powder, half of the cumin, paprika, diced tomatoes,
tomato paste and water and stir to combine. Bring to a low boil over medium
- Once boiling, add lentils and reduce heat to medium-low or low, so it’s
at a gentle simmer. You want to see bubbles, but you don’t want
it boiling. Cook for 15 minutes or until lentils are mostly tender. As
it’s cooking you may need to add more water if the mixture is looking
too dry and the lentils aren’t submerged.
- Next add kidney beans, black beans, 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper and
remaining cumin and chili powder Stir to combine.
- Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat slightly to low (or
medium-low), add corn (optional), cover and gently simmer for 20 minutes
to meld the flavors together. Stir occasionally.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more chili powder or cumin
for smokiness, salt for saltiness or a little coconut sugar to balance
the heat and draw out the other flavors.
- Serve as is or garnished with fresh jalapeño, cilantro, red onion
and/or avocado (optional).
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator up to 4 days, and in the freezer up
to 1 month. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Serving: 1 serving (total 6 servings) | Calories: 320 | Carbohydrates:
52.4 g | Protein: 15.9 g | Fat: 6.8 g | Saturated Fat: 0.7 g | Sodium:
427 mg | Fiber: 18.9 g | Sugar: 10 g
Chocolate Hummus Dip
- 1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans (strained and rinsed 3 times)
- 3 ½ Tbsp maple syrup
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- 4 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 Tbsp water (optional)
- Remove the skin of the garbanzo beans by pinching the bean between your
thumb and index finger.
- In a blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients except water.
- Puree until the mixture is smooth, about 30-60 seconds. Add water 1 Tbsp
at a time to create the desired consistency.
Serving: 2 Tbsp (total 6 servings) | Calories: 108 | Carbohydrates: 22.3
g | Protein: 4.1 g | Fat: 1.1 g | Saturated Fat: 0.3 g | Sodium: 224 mg
| Fiber: 1.2 g | Sugar: 10.5 g
If you are interested in making dietary changes and healthier lifestyle
choices schedule an appointment with one of our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists at the
Outpatient Medical Nutrition Therapy office or our
Diabetes Self-Management Program. Call 310-891-6707. Virtual and In-person consultations available.