Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Eat chickpeas to lower cholesterol

They’re an HFG staple, and with the news today that eating a daily serving of chickpeas could reduce levels of bad cholesterol and, therefore, the risk of heart disease, now there’s even more reason to keep your storecupboard stocked with this versatile pulse.

Scientists in Toronto analysed 26 trials and found that eating a portion of beans or pulses each day cut bad cholesterol by around 5%. ‘This study supports what we know about the heart health benefits of a Mediterranean diet rich in beans and pulses,” says Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation.

But they’re not just good for your heart – chickpeas are naturally low in fat and salt, and they’re a good source of protein. Plus 3tbsp counts as one of your five-a-day. ‘We have a lot of room in our diets for increasing our pulse intake,’ says Dr Sievenpiper, who led the study. ‘As an added bonus, they’re inexpensive.’ To help you get your intake, we’ve looked back through the HFG archives to share with you five tasty ways with a tin of chickpeas…

1.     Pittas on the pulse
In a medium bowl, mix together watercress, drained chickpeas, pitted olives, halved cherry tomatoes and a little crumbled reduced-fat feta. Toss the salad with a drizzle of reduced-fat dressing, then use to fill wholemeal pitta breads.

2.     Quick hummus
Tip 1 tin drained chickpeas into a food processor with the zest and juice of 1 lemon 3tbsp tahini, 2 large garlic cloves and 100ml olive oil. Whiz until smooth, then season with ground black pepper. Top with chopped fresh coriander and a light drizzle of olive oil.

3.     Half-and-half curry
Heat a little spray oil in a non-stick frying pan, then gently fry 1 sliced onion until soft. Add 1 crushed garlic clove and 1tbsp harissa paste and cook for 2 min. Add 1 tin chopped tomatoes and 1tsp sugar and bring to a simmer, then tip in 1 tin drained chickpeas and simmer for 10 min. Stir through 200g ready-cooked and peeled prawns and cook for 3–4 min. Serve with brown rice.

4.     Garlicky mash
Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Slice the top off one whole garlic bulb, wrap it in foil, then roast in a baking tray for 30 min. Meanwhile, heat a little spray oil in a medium pan, then add 1 sliced onion and gently cook for 5 min. Add 1 tin drained chickpeas and 300ml reduced-salt veg stock and simmer for 10 min, then drain, reserving a little of the stock. Remove the garlic from the foil and squeeze the flesh into the chickpeas, then mash together, adding a little of the reserved stock, if needed.

5.     Beany burgers
In a food processor, pulse 1 tin drained chickpeas until roughly chopped, then tip into a mixing bowl. Add 500g turkey mince, 2 ready-cooked and coarsely grated beetroots, 1 finely chopped onion, 2tsp fennel seeds, 1tbsp apple sauce and 3tbsp chopped fresh parsley, then stir to combine. Season, then shape the mixture into 8 burgers. Spray a non-stick frying pan with a little oil, then cook the burgers for 6–7 min on each side until cooked through. Serve in toasted buns with your choice of toppings.

For more ways with chickpeas, download the March 2013 issue of Healthy Food Guide from itunes


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