When we think of healthy foods and culinary ingredients, examples that generally spring to mind are fresh fruits and vegetables, salads, lean meat, seafood, and supplements. Whilst all of the aforementioned ingredients are indeed great examples of healthy produce, we cannot underestimate the power of beans. Beans are vastly underappreciated and underutilised, not only because they taste great but they are also very healthy and good for us as well. Beans and other legumes are renowned for their multiple healing properties yet for some reason, many of us are simply not including them as part of our daily diets. So here are 6 great reasons to make beans a staple part of your diet.
1. Beans can promote cardiovascular health
One key benefit associated with beans is the fact that they have been proven to promote cardiovascular health and well-being. Beans and other similar legumes are packed full of nutrients, including powerful phytochemicals, that help to reduce a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Phytochemicals help to strengthen the heart and provide protection against heart disease, as they help to reduce blood pressure, reduce LDL cholesterol, promote HDL cholesterol, and more.
2. Beans can also protect against cancer
What many people tend not to realise is the fact that beans are actually very effective when it comes to preventing certain forms of cancer. Beans are packed full of nutrients, including phytosterols and isoflavones, that help to fight and prevent many forms of cancer. These plant-based sterols have been found to significantly reduce an individual’s risk of suffering from a series of common cancers, making beans very healthy indeed, due largely to their anti-carcinogenic benefits.
3. They’re a great source of plant-based protein
Protein is arguably the most important macronutrient of the three (the other two being fat and carbohydrates) as protein is essential for the function, health, and regeneration of our cells. As human beings are basically made up of billions upon billions of microscopic cells, you suddenly get an idea of why it is so important to look after our cells. Protein is also vital for the growth and repair of muscle tissue. Many vegans and vegetarians often struggle to get enough protein, which is where beans come into the fold. Beans are vegan and vegetarian-friendly, and they are a great source of plant-based protein. Just 1 cup of beans contains 14 grams of protein, which is as much as around two ounces of chicken breast.
4. Beans are rich in dietary fibre
Another fantastic health benefit associated with beans is the fact that they are packed full of dietary fibre, which is very beneficial indeed. Fibre helps to reduce LDL cholesterol, it promotes healthy digestion and nutrient absorption, plus it also assists with the elimination of waste and therefore helps to keep you nice and regular. 100g of beans provide around 6 – 8 grams of fibre on average, making them ideal for people suffering with constipation or other digestive issues.
5. Beans are versatile
Beans are also one of the most versatile foods in the entire world, as they can be used in baking, they can be used in stews, they can be made into soups, into casseroles, into stir fries, and much more besides.
6. Beans regulate blood sugar levels
Beans, although being a great source of complex carbohydrates, offer a very low glycemic index, meaning that they are digested very slowly, which results in less insulin being secreted by the pancreas. This keeps blood sugar levels stable and constant.
7. Beans can extend your life!
Legumes—beans, split peas, chickpeas, lentils—cool down systemic inflammation.
Hispanics living in the United States tend to have less education, a higher poverty rate, and worse access to health care. So why do they live longer? Beans maybe?
Now, Hispanics also eat more corn, tomatoes, and chili peppers, but looking at cancer rates around the world, not only was bean consumption associated with less colon, breast, and prostate cancer, but also rice and corn consumption appeared protectively correlated, as well.