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The Role of Grain Legumes in the Prevention of Hypercholesterolemia and Hypertension

Arnoldi, Anna, Zanoni, Chiara, Lammi, Carmen, Boschin, Giovanna
Critical reviews in plant sciences 2015 v.34 no.1-3 pp. 144-168
Fabaceae, Food and Drug Administration, animal models, cell culture, cholesteremic effect, enzymes, foods, grain consumption, health claims, humans, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, in vitro studies, legumes, mechanism of action, seeds, soy protein, United States
The seeds of the plants of the Fabaceae, commonly known as “grain legumes” or “pulses,” are major foodstuffs in most countries. In addition, these seeds may also provide some health benefits, in particular in the area of hypercholesterolemia and hypertension prevention. Whereas the hypocholesterolemic activity of soy protein has been well known for decades and was finally supported by the health claim by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1999, similar information on non-soy legumes is scarce. This paper reviews all such available data from animal models and human trials as well as information on the mechanism of action provided by in vitro studies, mainly on cell cultures or assays on specific enzymes. This body of data indicates that a regular consumption of grain legumes may be useful both for the prevention of hypercholesterolemia and hypertension. More investigations are needed, however, for elucidating the mechanism of action and the actual effective components in legumes.