Beans and peas, both belonging to the "Fabaceae family," have always been reliable, instant source of protein, an essential nutrient that helps build our muscles and makes us strong. That's because the duo are high in amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. They're also an excellent source of protein for vegetarians and vegans. And, yes, beans play a role in better heart health.

Beans and peas are also good sources of fiber and vitamins while offering many health benefits. But to make things clear, beans are seeds from flowering plants in the Fabaceae family. Beans are classified as legumes. They usually grow in pods, which are capsules with several beans inside. Other legumes include peas, peanuts and lentils.

Some studies suggest people that consume beans might be less likely to die of a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular health problems. An analysis of previous medical studies conducted in 2013 found a clear correlation between eating beans and a reduced risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). The most common cardiovascular disease (CVD), CHD includes myocardial infarction (a heart attack), sudden cardiac death, stable angina and unstable angina.

A new review and meta-analysis published in Advances in Nutrition confirms the role of legumes in heart health. Poring through data from multiple studies and analyses, the review authors concluded legumes might benefit heart health.

The authors wanted to understand how legumes affect heart health. They focused on CVD risk and CVD mortality.

Cardiovascular disease is the world's leading -- and most expensive -- cause of death, "costing the United States nearly $1 billion a day," according to Dr. Hana Kahleova, study co-author from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C.

The study focused on legumes because these are rich in fiber, protein and micronutrients. Legumes also contain very little fat and sugar.

In the review, the authors compared data on people with the lowest and highest intake of legumes. They found "dietary pulses with or without other legumes were associated with an 8%, 10%, 9%, and 13% decrease in CVD, hypertension and obesity incidence, respectively."

On the other hand, they found no association between legume intake and the incidence of myocardial infarction, diabetes and stroke. They also found no relationship between legumes and mortality from CVD, coronary heart disease and stroke.

The team, however, identified a positive relationship between consuming higher quantities of legumes and a reduced risk of certain cardiovascular parameters.

"The overall certainty of the evidence was graded as 'low' for CVD incidence and 'very low' for all other outcomes," according to the review.

"Current evidence shows that dietary pulses with or without other legumes are associated with reduced CVD incidence with low certainty and reduced (coronary heart disease), hypertension, and obesity incidence with very low certainty."

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