9 Healthy Reasons to Eat More Beans
November 8, 2018 by Margie
I first became a bean fan when I decided to move to a plant-based diet in 2007. Garbanzo beans became my go-to food. Canned chick peas are readily available, cook easily and rarely offend anyone.
Now, it’s over a decade later - and beans are still the bulk of what I eat. They’re filling and dried beans are so freaking cheap! There’s no more cost-effective protein source available anywhere.
I can feel everyone snicker. I know what you’re thinking ;-). No, I don’t fart like a sailor. Beans, beans, the musical fruit! The more you eat, the more you toot! Well, not according to this study which was published in 1984. Scientists had 12 men eat kidney beans for 23 days and measured how much they farted. It turns out that the gas quantity didn’t change during that time, no matter if the men typically ate a lot of beans or not. However, the longer they ate the beans, the better they felt (less discomfort).
As it turns out, it’s a fallacy that beans make you fart. In fact, there are published studies demonstrate that people’s perception of increased intestinal gas was no greater over time with bean eaters.
Just think about that for a minute - someone is funding studies on perceived flatulence levels. That boggles the mind.
Here’s 9 Health Reasons to Eat More Beans:
Beans are good for your heart. People who consume beans may be less likely to die of a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular health problem. A study in the British Medical Journal looked at the relationship between fiber intake and heart disease as well as cardiovascular disease. Researchers found that getting in an additional 7 grams of fiber per day could significantly lower your risk of developing either condition by 9%. Beans are also good sources of potassium and magnesium, key minerals for your heart.
2. Beans pack a lot of fiber. Fiber helps you feel full, so you don't need to eat as much throughout the day. Current dietary guidelines recommend women get about 25 grams of fiber a day, but many women fall short, consuming on average less than half that amount daily.
3. Beans aid in digestion. Beans contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, so they work double to keep your digestive system running smoothly. The first slows down digestion, which gives you that full feeling, and the second helps prevent constipation.
4. Beans help you manage your weight. In addition to belly-filling fiber, beans are loaded with protein, another nutrient that curbs cravings. A half cup of cooked black beans contains nearly 8 grams of protein. Even better, the low-fat nature of beans makes it easier for you to lose weight. More reason to make beans your superfood for weight loss.
5. Beans help regulate blood sugar. The combination of fiber and protein helps keep your blood sugar steady—one reason beans are thought to help keep diabetes at bay. A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine even found that people with type 2 diabetes who consumed one cup of beans daily for three weeks were able to maintain a lower blood sugar and blood pressure than when they started the diet.
6. Beans are high in iron. Iron deficiency is the most common deficiency in the United States and the leading cause of anemia, a condition where the body has a lower-than-normal red blood cell count. Current guidelines suggest women get about 18 milligrams of iron a day, but many fall short of that goal. Eating beans helps to boost your iron intake: a half cup of cooked lentils for instance has 3.3 milligrams.
7. Beans are a good source of B vitamins. Research has shown that folate and B6 may be helpful for lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease. A Japanese study in Stroke found that higher consumption of folate and B6 was associated with fewer deaths from heart failure in men, plus fewer deaths from stroke, heart disease, and total cardiovascular events in women.
8. Beans may reduce cancer risk. Beans are rich in antioxidants, which protect against free radicals that could damage your cells and lead to cancer. Women who ate beans or lentils at least two times a week over 8 years were less likely to develop breast cancer than those who only ate them once a month or less in a study of more than 90,000 women published in the International Journal of Cancer. Another study in The Journal of Cancer Research found women who consumed four or more servings of legumes a week had a lower incidence of colorectal polyps, a precursor to both colon and rectal cancers.
9. Beans help to lower cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) can stick to the walls of your blood vessels, causing inflammation and plaque buildup. A study in the Canadian Medical Journal found that eating one serving of beans, peas, chickpeas, or lentils daily can reduce your LDL levels by 5% and your chances of developing cardiovascular disease by 5 to 6%.
Some simple strategies for adding beans to a regular diet include:
Replacing meat with beans. Try adding beans instead of meat to soups, casseroles, and pasta dishes.
Eating chilled bean salads. Beans are tasty and filling as a standalone salad, or as a garnish to other salads.
Mixing beans and grains. Adding beans to grains can turn an incomplete protein into a complete one.
It can take a little trial and error to find the beans that work best for your favorite dishes, but beans can make a healthy (and cheap!!) addition to almost any meal.