Johns Hopkins Health Alert
6 Reasons To Love Beans
If you aren't including plenty of dry beans and other legumes in your diet, you're missing out on some of the best nutritional multitaskers around. Beans are an excellent source of several important nutrients, and studies suggest that they reduce the risk of heart disease, colorectal cancer, and, possibly, even diabetes. What's more, beans are savory, easy to prepare, inexpensive, and come in many varieties.
With so many good reasons to eat beans, it doesn't add up that Americans eat only about one cup of beans a week, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a minimum of three cups.
Here are six reasons why we should all eat more beans:
- Beans are full of vitamins and minerals. Beans are a good source of minerals, like calcium, copper, zinc, iron, and potassium, and B vitamins, such as folic acid.
- Beans are high in fiber. Beans contain impressive levels of dietary fiber: 12 to 15 g in a one-cup serving, which translates to half or more of the daily recommended fiber intake of 21 to 30 g for older individuals. They are a rich source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. The insoluble fiber in beans absorbs liquid in the colon and helps soften stool, which protects against constipation.
- Beans are packed with protein. One cup of cooked beans provides as much as 16 g of protein, about a quarter to a third of the amount you need in a day.
- Beans stabilize your blood sugar. Soluble fiber in beans slows the passage of glucose from food into your bloodstream. Because of this, your body has to produce less insulin; high levels of insulin are a precursor to diabetes.
- Beans are heart-healthy. Scientific evidence that beans promote heart health continues to grow. In a study conducted by the USDA Agricultural Research, researchers found that consuming as little as a 1⁄2 cup of beans a day helped lower total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in healthy people as well as in those with an increased risk of heart disease.
- Beans may reduce colon cancer risk. Increasing bean consumption by a significant amount may protect against the recurrence of precancerous polyps that can lead to colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States.
Posted in Nutrition and Weight Control on August 12, 2009
Reviewed January 2011
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