By: Anielly Rocha
Obesity is defined as a person with a body mass index of 30 or higher1. According to the AHA, about 35% of U.S. adults are obese which equals to more than 78 million adults1. Obesity effects 9 organ systems in the human body and therefore is the leading risk factor for gastroesophageal reflux, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes. 2.) These diseases are the most prevalent in obese individuals which accounts for approximately 300,000 deaths a year making it a leading cause of death in western countries, second only to cigarette smoking.2
Everyone, whether obese or a few pounds over ideal weight, needs to have a positive goal in mind to achieve the lifestyle recommended for a long healthy life. Even losing a few pounds can provide cardiovascular benefits, making every step in the right direction a step towards a better lifestyle. A systematic review by the National Center for Biotechnology Information reviewed 9 studies involving a total of 126 subjects and uncovered that individuals who consumed about a cup of legumes as part of their meals felt about 30% more full after eating compared to when they consumed the same meal without the legumes.3 Therefore, a great way to reduce weight is to add in legumes to meals in order to increase satiety or that feeling of fullness after you eat. Feeling satisfied after eating may help avoid snacking on unwanted empty calories between regular meals. Legumes are a good source of protein and various vitamins and minerals, but also high in soluble fiber which is digested more slowly.3,4 Not only does soluble fiber lead to a feeling of fullness, higher intakes has also been linked to lower body weight.4 I have provided a recipe which includes pinto beans, a legume full of these health benefits. To help kick start your goal in a delicious way, try out this recipe: Fajita style Chicken and Bean Lettuce Tacos. Hopefully it leaves you feeling full and like you took a step forward!
Let’s taco about it:
Fajita style Chicken and Bean Lettuce Tacos
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces or slices
- 3 tablespoons of mild taco seasoning.
- 1 head romaine lettuce
- 1/2 cup red or orange bell pepper, diced small
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup canned pinto beans, drained and rinsed, optional
- 1/2 medium Hass avocado, peeled and diced
- 1/2 medium cucumber, diced small
- Hot sauce to taste
- To a large skillet, add the olive oil, chicken pieces, and cook over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes, flipping and stirring for even cooking. After the chicken has cooked through, evenly sprinkle with taco seasoning and stir to evenly coat.
- To the skillet add the beans, peppers and cilantro, mix until combined and cover to simmer for 3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, Peel off the leaves of the lettuce and stack them on a plate.
- Place 1 leaf of lettuce on a separate plate and add about 4 tablespoons of the chicken bean mixture along the center.
- Add avocado, cucumber and hot sauce for garnishing. Fold up and enjoy.
- American Heart Association. Obesity Information. Published 2014
- Kushner RF. Medical management of obesity. Seminars in gastrointestinal disease. Published July 2002.
- Li SS et al. Dietary pulses, satiety, and food intake: a systematic review and meta-analysis of acute feeding trials. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Obesity. Published 2014
- Slavin J. Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits. Nutrients. Published April 2013.