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The articles below provided valuable information on the nutritious
benefits of incorporating beans into your diet.
Beans: Protein-Rich Superfoods
High in fiber and
antioxidants, beans aren't just good for the waistline, they may aid in disease
By Jenny Stamos Kovacs, WebMD the Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH,
More than just a
meat substitute, beans are so nutritious that the latest dietary guidelines
recommend we triple our current intake from 1 to 3 cups per week. What makes
beans so good for us? Here's what the experts have to say:
such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease all have something in common. Being overweight increases your chances of developing them and makes your prognosis
worse if you do, says Mark Brick, PhD -- which means that trimming your
waistline does more for you than make your pants look better. Brick, a
professor in the department of soil and crop sciences at Colorado State
University, is investigating the ability of different bean varieties to prevent
cancer and diabetes.
Beans are comparable
to meat when it comes to calories, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, a registered
dietitian at Northwestern Memorial Hospital's Wellness Institute in Chicago and
a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. But they really shine in
terms of fiber and water content, two ingredients that make you feel fuller,
faster. Adding beans to your diet helps cut calories without feeling deprived.
Our diets tend to be
seriously skimpy when it comes to fiber (the average American consumes just 15
grams daily), to the detriment of both our hearts and our waistlines. One cup
of cooked beans (or two-thirds of a can) provides about 12 grams of fiber --
nearly half the recommended daily dose of 21 to 25 grams per day for adult
women (30 to 38 grams for adult men). Meat, on the other hand, contains no
fiber at all.
This difference in
fiber content means that meat is digested fairly quickly, Brick says, whereas
beans are digested slowly, keeping you satisfied longer. Plus, beans are low in
sugar, which prevents insulin in the bloodstream from spiking and causing hunger. When you substitute beans for meat in your diet, you get the
added bonus of a decrease in saturated fat, says Blatner.
Still not convinced?
In a recent study, bean eaters weighed, on average, 7 pounds less and had
slimmer waists than their bean-avoiding counterparts -- yet they consumed 199
calories more per day if they were adults and an incredible 335 calories more
if they were teenagers.
Beans have something
else that meat lacks, Blatner says: phytochemicals, compounds found only in
plants (phyto is Greek for "plant"). Beans are high in
antioxidants, a class of phytochemicals that incapacitate cell-damaging free
radicals in the body, says Brick. (Free radicals have been implicated in
everything from cancer and aging to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's
In a U.S. Department
of Agriculture study, researchers measured the antioxidant capacities of more
than 100 common foods. Three types of beans made the top four: small red beans,
red kidney beans, and pinto beans. And three others -- black beans, navy beans,
and black-eyed peas -- achieved top-40 status.
The bottom line?
Beans are pretty much the perfect food, Brick says.
According to many
nutritionists, beans are one of the most overlooked health foods in the world
today. Long denounced by many for their
supposedly high carb, therefore high weight gain potential, recent research has
actually found that beans in fact contain complex forms of carbohydrates that
actually do not contribute to weight gain.
Instead, these complex carbs help us by providing a steady supply of
stable energy to our muscles and brain.
Not only are beans
not bad for you, they are chocked full of nutrients that most other foods can
only aspire to. They contain Vitamin B6,
folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium and alpha-linolenic acid, all important
body building blocks. Beans are also
loaded with a ton of protein, which makes them rare species indeed in the plant
world. Protein is essential for our
bodies to function properly, the rub being that most foods that are high
protein also happen to be bad for the heart.
Beans, on the other hand, are not only a right source of protein; they
are also a heart healthy.
studies have found that beans have the potential to prevent many threatening
illnesses that are prevalent in America at this time. They can combat cancer, heart disease,
diabetes, and obesity. Heart disease is
one of the biggest killers in our country today and beans have been proven to
help reduce the risk of this totally preventable disease by as much as 22
percent. Beans are also great at curbing
your hunger and since they are a very efficient fuel that our bodies can burn
off very easily. This can help give us a
boost of energy and keep the pounds off.
Beans have also been
found to be loaded with free radical fighting antioxidants. Free radicals are unstable compounds that can
do a lot of damage to the body including being known cause of cancer and
premature aging. Antioxidants are
nutrients which are known to be able to help cancel out the negative effects of
these radicals. Since beans are loaded
with antioxidants, they have the potential to fight cancer and make you feel
younger and more energized.
Which beans are the
beats? Studies done at Michigan State
University have found that beans that are termed as dry beans tend to be the
healthiest. While there is a strong
similarity in the nutrient content of most beans, researchers have found that
kidney beans, lima beans, pinto beans and navy beans are the
better to eat. How much beans should you
eat? Nutritionists recommend three cups
of beans per week, but even including just a cup of beans per week into your
diet can help you feel healthier.
People’s state of
health would be much better off if they quit looking at beans as merely a
source of carbs and gassy after effects and instead acknowledged them for their
high nutritional value. Eating beans can
help people fight off many of the illnesses that plague them and given the
untold varieties of beans out there, it should not be hard to find one that
fits your taste.