Beans are so versatile; it’s hard not to like them. In addition, they make it so easy for us to include them in our daily diets. They come in every shape, color, and size. They can be added into both sweet and salty dishes.
They can be eaten as snacks, salads, or a meal unto their own. Beans are the underdog of the protein world, but they’ve recently been regaining the recognition they deserve.
They help prevent heart disease. Beans are super rich in phytochemicals; chemical compounds produced by plants. These compounds are the main reason why beans protect against heart disease. Beans are also a good source of magnesium and potassium, which help regulate blood pressure and remove excess water and sodium from the body.
They’re great for digestion. Legumes are chock full of the two kinds of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber curbs your appetite because it moves slowly through the digestive system, and the insoluble fiber helps prevent constipation. These two kinds of fiber help keep the digestive process running smoothly. Beans have a bad rep for increasing flatulence, but in fact, a study in the Nutrition Journal concluded that it’s just the opposite. However, the study did stress on the fact that those who eat beans on a regular basis should drink plenty of water to help smoothly move the fiber through the digestive tract. And on another positive note, beans help keep the levels of the hormone leptin high. Leptin is responsible for controlling our appetite, and as long as its levels are raised, our appetite is reduced and the metabolic process works overtime.
They have a low glycemic index (GI). This low GI helps regulate the blood sugar level and keeps it steady which is why it’s believed that beans help lower the risk of diabetes. The reason behind this is that the carbohydrates in beans are absorbed slowly in the digestive tract, and over a longer period of time, due to the presence of protein and fiber in beans. In other words, there’s a unique balance of complex carbohydrates and protein, which provides the body with a steady source of glucose, as opposed to the sudden surge of glucose, which happens after eating something with simple carbohydrates. Moreover, beans lend a hand in preventing insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes.
They help balance cholesterol levels. One of the two kinds of fiber mentioned above – the soluble fiber – attaches itself to the cholesterol during the digestive process. This stops it from being absorbed in the bloodstream, leading to buildup of plaque in the artery walls, inflammation, and heart disease.
They’re high in nutrients and minerals:
• Fiber helps keep you feeling full longer because they pass slowly through the digestive system. This is great news because then you don’t eat as much throughout the day.
• Beans are a rich source of iron, which many of us don’t get enough of through our diets – especially women. However, the type of iron in beans is known as non-heme iron which isn’t as absorbed as easily in the bloodstream. This is why it’s best eaten along with foods high in vitamin C, such as tomatoes, broccoli, bell peppers
• Folate helps lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases
• Phytonutrients, which are mainly responsible for providing the body with antioxidants, which help, reduce and prevent inflammations caused by free radical agents.
• B vitamins
Here’s a great Bean Recipe to try out at home