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6 Reasons To Love Beans

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If you aren't including plenty of dry beans and other legumes in your diet, you're missing out on some of the best nutritional multitaskers around. Beans are an excellent source of several important nutrients, and studies suggest that they reduce the risk of heart disease, colorectal cancer, and, possibly, even diabetes. What's more, beans are savory, easy to prepare, inexpensive, and come in many varieties.

With so many good reasons to eat beans, it doesn't add up that Americans eat only about one cup of beans a week, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a minimum of three cups.

Here are six reasons why we should all eat more beans:

 

  1. Beans are full of vitamins and minerals. Beans are a good source of minerals, like calcium, copper, zinc, iron, and potassium, and B vitamins, such as folic acid.
  2. Beans are high in fiber. Beans contain impressive levels of dietary fiber: 12 to 15 g in a one-cup serving, which translates to half or more of the daily recommended fiber intake of 21 to 30 g for older individuals. They are a rich source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. The insoluble fiber in beans absorbs liquid in the colon and helps soften stool, which protects against constipation.
  3. Beans are packed with protein. One cup of cooked beans provides as much as 16 g of protein, about a quarter to a third of the amount you need in a day.
  4. Beans stabilize your blood sugar. Soluble fiber in beans slows the passage of glucose from food into your bloodstream. Because of this, your body has to produce less insulin; high levels of insulin are a precursor to diabetes.
  5. Beans are heart-healthy. Scientific evidence that beans promote heart health continues to grow. In a study conducted by the USDA Agricultural Research, researchers found that consuming as little as a 1⁄2 cup of beans a day helped lower total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in healthy people as well as in those with an increased risk of heart disease.
  6. Beans may reduce colon cancer risk. Increasing bean consumption by a significant amount may protect against the recurrence of precancerous polyps that can lead to colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States.
  7.  

Posted in Nutrition and Weight Control on August 12, 2009
Reviewed January 2011


Medical Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician. Click here for additional information: Health After 50 Disclaimer


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Health After 50 Alerts registered users may post comments and share experiences here at their own discretion. We regret that questions on individual health concerns to the editors cannot be answered in this space.

The views expressed here do not constitute medical advice, and do not represent the position of Scientific American Health After 50 or Remedy Health Media, LLC, which has no responsibility for any comments posted on this site.


In the article regarding the benefits of beans, you never mention which beans you are referring to. Does this include green beans as well as dried beans?

Posted by: edible | August 15, 2009 2:19 PM

What about gas controll?? At these recomended quanteties it is absolutely essential. be polite

Posted by: hev | August 16, 2009 7:23 AM

As most Westerners, we have grown to believe that more meat is desirable. The food industry, especially the fast food industry, may have contributed a lot in our forgetting everything about beans and legumes. We do not eat what Granny had hand-picked in the garden anymore. We eat what the industry has processed for us: added chemicals, salt and bad fats … because it’s cheaper to produce and THAT sells!

Could it be otherwise? Sure! When adapting recipes in order to use beans, legumes or soy products, one is very pleasantly surprised to find out that, while a bit different, these recipes turn out to be just as delicious and satisfying. Furthermore, beans are not only much healthier, but as a source of protein, they cost a whole lot less than the equivalent volume of meat (sometimes just one third of the price of meat). Better still: they can be convenient to use. For example: in a published “Italian spaghetti Bolognese” sauce recipe, we replaced the beef with either a can of lentils or ground soy, it was a breeze. Just rinse the lentils or beans really thoroughly to get rid of all the foamy water in order to prevent your bowels from producing excess gas. When used with the smallest possible amount of oil or fat the recipe is cholesterol-free and heart-healthy.

Many top cardiologists that have become famous for reversing coronary heart disae ( Drs. Esselstyn, Ornish, Gould and Jenkins) recommend using legumes. It is just too bad that we have forgotten how to cook or use them. - NGBeditor

Posted by: heartMonitron | September 22, 2009 7:43 PM

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