Why Beans are An Important Part of Any Diet
Beans and lentils are part of the legume family. Vegetarians and vegans love them because of their high protein content, great health benefits, and their wide variety. There must be hundreds of simple vegetarian recipes that use beans.
Super Health Benefits
Legumes lower cholesterol, are heart-healthy, and can even reduce the risk of many cancers.
High in Dietary Fiber
You may already know that fiber can lower cholesterol and is important for heart health. Fiber also prevents blood sugar levels from rising quickly after eating (this is good news for people with diabetes, insulin resistance, or hypoglycemia).
High in Heart Healthy Nutrients
Beans are an excellent source of folic acid, potassium, and B6, all heart-healthy nutrients.
Potassium helps protect you from high blood pressure and stroke. Folic acid and B6 break down the amino acid homocysteine. If you have high amounts of homocysteine in your blood, it can triple your risk of heart attacks and stroke. Just one cup of cooked, dry beans has 264 mg of folate. This is more than half of the recommended daily intake.
Contain Potent Antioxidants
Beans are loaded with powerful, anti-inflammatory antioxidants flavonoids, and flavonols.
“In particular, the reddish flavonal pigments in bean and lentil seed coats exert antioxidant activity fifty times greater than vitamin E, protect against oxidative damage to cell membrane lipids, promote healthy collagen and cartilage, and restore the antioxidant powers of vitamins C and E after they’ve battled free radicals.”
“The Perricone Promise,” Nicholas Perricone, MD
Beans are also a low fat, low sodium food. And, with the exception of soybeans, they’re also low in calories.
Beans Are One of the Best Vegetarian and Vegan Protein Sources
|Black Beans (1 cup cooked)||15.24 grams|
|Kidney (1 cup cooked)||15.35 grams|
|Pinto (1 cup cooked)||15.41 grams|
|Chickpeas (Garbanzo)||14.35 grams|
|Navy Beans (1 cup cooked)||14.98 grams|
|Lentils (1 cup cooked)||17.86 grams|
Protein is important to build muscles and for a healthy metabolism. Plus it makes you feel full. This is important for vegetarians and vegans. When there isn’t enough protein in your meal, you don’t feel satisfied. This can make you eat too much, or eat the wrong foods. It’s one of the reasons why some vegetarians and vegans wind up gaining weight.
The Gas (Flatulence) Issue
Vegans and Vegetarians, especially newbies, frequently run into problems with digestion. The most common is gas.
There’s a compound in beans called oligosaccharides that your body cannot digest or absorb. As a result, they get broken down by bacteria, which produces the gas.
There are solutions. Cook them well. The cooking process significantly reduces the level of oligosaccharides. Another way to reduce the oligosaccharides is to sprout them. And, if all else fails, you can buy a product called Beano.
Beans and lentils are an invaluable superfood for a vegetarian and vegan diet. They’re healthy, easy to prepare and cook and bring a lot of versatility to your meals.
USDA National Nutrient Database for Protein Content
Deborah Madison, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
Jack Norris, RD, Virginia Messina, MPH, RD, Vegan for Life
Nicholas Perricone, MD, The Perricone Promise: Look Younger Live Longer in Three Easy Steps
Michael Murray, N.D., The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods
Adebamowo, C.Al, E. Cho, L. Sampson, et al. “Dietary Flavonols and Flavonol-Rich Foods Intake and the Risk of Breast Cancer.” Int. J. Cancer 2004;114(4):628-633.
© 2021 Living Well Health Coach
Disclaimer: The information on this site is for information purposes only. It is not intended to replace your healthcare professional or provide diagnosis or treatment.