Beans are among the most common and versatile food staples out there in the world. Beans are grown and consumed in many parts of the world in different varieties. Not only are beans widely accessible but they also boast of high nutritional value and have the potential to improve one’s health thanks to the many benefits that beans offer. Beans are also economical and affordable, which means that they can be consumed all year round without necessarily breaking the bank.
Beans and nutrition
Belonging to the Fabaceae group of plants, beans are a great source of fibre, protein and various minerals. Beans have a whole host of benefits to offer that include:
1. Beans are rich in nutrients
Dry beans such as kidney, pink, pinto and many more varieties are valued because they are high in the nutrients that they provide. Beans and other legumes contain an array of vitamins and minerals all while being very low in calories. Beans provide minerals such as magnesium, potassium, iron and folate while containing little sodium, trans-fats and cholesterol. Because of their nutrient-rich value, consuming and including beans as part of your diet can help to improve one’s overall health as well as reduce the risk of developing diseases such as heart disease, different types of cancer and obesity.
2. Beans can boost one’s fibre levels
Nutrition experts recommend adding beans to one’s diet because they can boost fibre intake. Dietary fibre is important because it is what contributes to the general feeling of fullness, which not only keeps the digestive system going and operational but it also reduces the amount of food one consumes throughout the day. Because they are a rich source of soluble and insoluble fibre, beans should be consumed regularly by any individual looking to lose or manage their weight. Eating beans regularly can help to prevent unnecessary food cravings that contribute to excessive weight gain.
3. Beans are an excellent source of complex carbs
Complex carbs are also known as dietary starch. Complex carbs consist of sugar molecules that have been linked together to resemble a necklace and they are typically full of fibre. The majority of calories that are found n dry beans come from the starch. These complex carbohydrates have a low glycaemic index that makes beans one of the best items to include in the diet when one is looking to prevent or reverse diabetes.
Low glycaemic foods such as beans work by releasing small amounts of sugars slowly and steadily, which allows individuals to have a constant source of energy. Eating beans does not skyrocket blood sugar, which makes it one of the best dishes for people suffering from diabetes.
4. Beans can help to reduce the risk of heart disease
Eating beans 4 to 5 times a week can help to reduce the risk of developing heart disease significantly. Legumes such as beans have been known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, which can improve one’s heart health considerably. Beans are great sources of heart-friendly minerals such as potassium and magnesium. The potassium levels found in beans naturally remove excess sodium and water from the body so that your blood pressure can be regulated. The magnesium that beans offers, on the other hand, is essential for assisting nerve function as well as keeping blood pressure levels in check.
5. Beans and leptin
A hormone known as leptin is the one that is responsible for controlling the human appetite. Leptin is produced naturally by the body. When your body realizes that the body is sufficiently nourished, it releases leptin which allows your appetite to decline as well as boost your metabolism so that calories can be consumed quickly.
Plant-based foods such as leptins help to keep leptin levels in the body high so that one does not overconsume food. Therefore, when you consume beans, you not only work on reducing your appetite, but you are also forcing your metabolism to work harder and faster which is essential for normal functioning.
6. Beans are great for digestion
As mentioned before, beans are excellent sources of soluble and insoluble fibre so they work hard to ensure that your digestive system is running effectively and smoothly. Soluble fibres are important because they slow down the digestion process so that you can have a satiated feeling throughout. Insoluble fibres, on the other hand, are important because they are the ones responsible for preventing constipation. Although it is quite common for people to report instances of flatulence after eating beans, this can be easily avoided by soaking the beans in water before cooking.
7. Beans contain high amounts of iron
Iron deficiency is the number one cause of anaemia. Anaemia is a dangerous condition in the body that causes one to have a lower than normal level of blood cell count. Although iron intake is highly recommended, a lot of individuals fall short of the recommended guidelines and eating beans on a regular basis is one of the best ways to boost one’s iron intake.
8. Beans are a well-known source of B vitamins
Many bean varieties contain vitamins such as riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, B6, and folate which are essential for converting food to energy, reducing inflammation, keeping cholesterol levels in check, among other things. B6 Vitamins are also crucial for lowering one’s risk of developing cardiovascular diseases as well as instances of stroke. When combined with other food items such as meat, poultry and fish, beans ensure that the human body remains strong and operational.
9. Beans reduce instances of cancer
Beans are not only high in essential minerals and vitamins, but they are also rich sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants are critical because they are the ones responsible for protecting the body from free radicals- free radicals are the units that lead to cell damage as well as diseases such as cancer. The folate, fibre and the phytates that are packed readily in beans are also essential for preventing the occurrence of certain types of cancer such as breast cancer while improving the chances of breast cancer survival.