New Miracle Foods Are Here — But Were They Ever Gone?

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It's hard to keep up with the latest miracle foods on the market, especially when the turnover is faster than you can say Chía[o]. Get it, Cíao, Chia seeds? Anyway...

In this case, pulses from the legume family — a class of vegetables that includes beans, peas and lentils, are generating a buzz, as a recent study suggests including these pulses in your diet will help you lose weight and keep it off. Step aside, broccoli.

The paper, led by Dr. Russell de Souza, was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. After a meta-analysis of all available clinical trials on the effects of dietary pulses, the investigators found that eating about a cup of these foods each day led to a weight loss of 0.34kg (or roughly half a pound).

“Though the weight loss was small, our findings suggest that simply including pulses in your diet may help you lose weight, and we think more importantly, prevent you from gaining it back after you lose it,” Dr. de Souza said in a press release.

We assume it will only be a matter of time before this class of veggies are pegged "miracle foods" by Dr. Oz and the likes (Oz will probably market lentil and bean smoothies before the end of the month), but let's not forget that these dietary pulses have been around for a long time.

The Europeans have long incorporated legumes into their diets, for the obvious reasons: legumes are typically low in fat, they have zero cholesterol, and are high in potassium, magnesium, folate and iron. They're also a good source of protein and beneficial fats. Europeans also eat a healthy portion of beans, peas, and lentils because, frankly, they know how to cook them really well. If you were raised in a Slavic country, you ate beans for dinner three times per week, at least.

So the concept is hardly new. And calling them miracle foods is sketchy, at best. In order to reap the benefits of legumes, one must incorporate them in a balanced diet. Over time, dietary pulses can deliver healthy doses of nutrients your body needs, but they won't negate poor eating habits. So you can't just add chickpeas to your bacon cheeseburger and expect positive results. But this sort of media buzz will inevitably come and go, as will "new miracle foods" every 4-to-6 months.