The Amazing Health Benefits of Beans:
Benefits of Beans: You’ve probably heard of the many health benefits of beans, but how much do you really know about them? Even though beans can be difficult to digest due to their high fiber content, they actually offer some unique benefits that you can’t get from any other food group.
Some may even surprise you! For instance, did you know that beans contain high amounts of antioxidants or that they are great sources of cholesterol-lowering nutrients?
No matter how long you’ve been eating beans or what type of diet you practice, there are always new things to learn and ways to improve your health through this tasty food.
10 ways eating beans can benefit your health
Nutrition experts have been saying it for years: Eat more beans! They’re rich in a variety of minerals, they keep you full with a healthy dose of fiber, and they can help reduce your risk for certain types of cancer.
With so many health benefits available to those who incorporate beans into their diet, why don’t we all eat them? Well, one reason might be because some people are simply grossed out by eating beans in a different form—like that skin on black beans or undercooked lentils.
But if you can find ways to enjoy beans without being too preoccupied by their texture (i.e., eating lots of dip made from refried pinto beans), then there are lots of options for getting your fix!
Improve energy levels and mood
Beans contain B vitamins and other minerals, like iron and magnesium, that keep you feeling energetic. Plus, they’re low in calories—one cup of cooked beans contains approximately 220 calories—so you can eat them without guilt.
Add some beans to salads, soups or side dishes for a nutrient boost with minimal effort. Other legumes like chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or lentils can be just as filling but contain more fiber than white beans, so it’s smart to rotate your choices every day if possible.
When adding bean-based meals to your diet for weight loss make sure to consume enough healthy fats such as avocados or olive oil. This will help you feel full longer and keep you from getting bloated.
Keep you regular
The fiber in beans is essential for helping you pass a regular bowel movement. Fiber absorbs water and adds bulk to your stool, helping it move more quickly through your digestive tract.
The quicker your stools are expelled from your body, that means less time that potentially harmful toxins or food particles have a chance to linger in your gut and cause damage. Your gut health is crucial to overall health and well-being, so don’t be afraid to load up on beans!
Protect against heart disease
The fiber in beans, which is a type of carbohydrate, has been shown to decrease bad cholesterol levels and help reduce blood pressure. Higher-fiber diets may also help you feel fuller longer and less likely to overeat, according to research published in a 2009 issue of Nutrition Reviews.
Eating more beans can also play a role in maintaining healthy body weight. If you’re following a low-fat diet, replacing some fatty foods with beans could actually make it easier for you to stick with your eating plan; adding beans might just be one small change that helps keep you on track.
Decrease symptoms of acne
It may sound strange, but eating a variety of beans and legumes can help reduce acne. This is due to their high content of zinc, which has been shown to help clear up spots.
In fact, a study published in Nutrition Research found that acne sufferers who took a daily supplement containing zinc saw an improvement in their symptoms after only four weeks.
Researchers note that it’s not enough to consume foods high in zinc; you need at least 15 milligrams (mg) per day for symptoms to improve. So start incorporating beans into your diet or taking dietary supplements rich in zinc!
Reduce diabetes risk
Several studies have found that a high-fiber diet lowers your risk for type 2 diabetes. Fiber slows down digestion, keeping you feeling full longer so you’re less likely to overeat;
People who eat more fiber also tend to weigh less than those who don’t. In fact, research has shown that women who consume 25 grams or more of fiber daily are 42 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who consume just 15 grams.
Fiber is also linked with decreased levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides, as well as increased levels of HDL (good) cholesterol—all factors that help reduce your heart disease risk. So go ahead and make beans a regular part of your healthy diet!
Contrary to popular belief, beans are not a vegetable. While they’re often eaten with other vegetables, they actually count as a type of legume—and their benefits extend beyond filling you up with fiber.
One cup of black beans provides 50 percent more iron than one cup of spinach, and each serving contains eight grams of protein.
They’re also packed with antioxidants and can help lower your cholesterol. Research suggests that bean consumption may reduce your risk for developing cancer—but there is no single reason for why it works so well.
It may have something to do with phytochemicals, which are found in plants and have anti-cancer effects. As far as food sources go, legumes are among some of your best bets for staying healthy over time!
Strengthen bones and teeth
Just two cups a day can supply you with enough vitamin K to keep your bones and teeth strong. High levels of fiber—which is found in beans, peas, lentils, and other pulses—keep your digestive system healthy and also aid in digestion.
And if that’s not enough, research suggests that eating pulses such as beans may have even more benefits when eaten regularly. One study conducted by researchers at Iowa State University showed that people who ate legumes daily were 40 percent less likely to die from heart disease than people who didn’t eat them at all.
Reduce gas, bloating, and diarrhea
Have you ever eaten too much Mexican food, or any other bean-based meal? If so, you know what a problem gas, bloating, and diarrhea can be.
Thankfully, there are several ways to reduce these uncomfortable side effects by preparing beans properly before cooking them. To lose weight safely but quickly have a side of beans with your next meal!
First, make sure you rinse your beans thoroughly before boiling or steaming them. Rinsing removes excess surface starch that tends to cause digestive discomfort when consumed in large amounts, such as with starchy legumes like white rice and breads.
Second, don’t overcook your legumes; heat destroys most phytates, compounds that may bind minerals like iron and zinc in foods as well as prevent their absorption into your body.
Prevent weight gain/loss due to other food groups
Research has shown that eating too many foods from one food group can lead to weight gain or loss. For example, a rich in processed foods could make it harder for someone to lose weight compared to someone who eats more fresh fruits and vegetables.
In general, people shouldn’t eat more than 40% of their calories from carbs, 20% from protein and 40% from fat each day.
Most Americans eat much more than that, with about 60-65% coming from carbs and 20-25% coming from protein.
To reach your health goals—whatever they may be—it’s important to try and incorporate a variety of different foods into your meals each day so you can avoid overloading on any one nutrient group.
Are an excellent source of protein
A half-cup serving of beans packs as much protein as a glass of milk. And unlike meat, they’re a complete protein: they contain all nine essential amino acids your body can’t produce on its own and which help build muscle. In fact, researchers found that those who eat more protein tend to weigh less than those who don’t.
Protein helps you feel full longer, so you end up eating less food during each meal or throughout your day, says study author Barry Popkin in an email interview with Prevention. This also makes it easier to consume fewer calories at dinner or in total.