Do you want to keep your body well and functioning at peak abilities? Would you want to know about a perfect food that could regulate blood sugar, help prevent heart disease and certain cancers, plus help promote weight loss?
Yes, of course, you would, and there is a simple food out there that can do all those things: BEANS! Beans, the common term for the food category called legumes that includes beans, peas, and lentils, are an ancient and incredible source of health benefits.
What makes beans and peas such a miracle food?
Let us count the ways:
1) BEANS contain a wider variety of nutrients than most foods.
In the food pyramid they belong in both the meat and bean section and the vegetable section. They provide complete proteins, a rarity in plants. 1/4 cup of cooked beans, peas or lentils has the equivalent amount of protein as one ounce of meat, or 15 grams per cup. But beans provide proteins without the animal fat that meat sources provide.
2) BEANS are high in carbs--but the good kind--complex carbohydrates that help to curb hunger and boost energy levels, resulting in weight loss.
3) BEANS have the unique ability to release energy into the bloodstream over a sustained period of time. This gives them a low glycemic index, making them an excellent food source for diabetics, as well as protection against obesity.
4) BEANS are not only loaded with FIBER, but with soluble fiber, which has been proven to help lower cholesterol levels. Fiber is a critical nutrient especially as people age. In a 2001 study people who ate beans four times a week instead of once showed a 22% reduction in heart disease. A University of Kentucky study also showed that eating a cup of cooked beans (15 grams of fiber) every day can lower cholesterol 10% in six weeks. Women over the age of 19 should try to consume 25 grams of fiber daily, while men of same age should get 38 grams.
5) BEANS contain antioxidants that lower the risk of some cancers, particularly colorectal, according to studies. Of the top 20 antioxidants on the US Dept. of Agriculture’s list of antioxidant food sources, beans occupy spots number 1, 3, 4, and 7 with small red beans, red kidney, pinto, and black beans. Antioxidants protect against damage by free radicals and keep us looking younger.
#6) BEANS offer calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium, folate, and alpha-linolenic acid--nutrients that work together in key areas of the body to promote overall health. Beans have a unique compound that has been shown to keep normal cells from becoming cancerous and slow their growth. Hispanic women have half the risk of breast cancer as white women, and research credits that fact to the high content of beans in their diet.
So that’s the skinny on legumes…or, the lean of the bean!