Beans, Beans, Beautiful Beans

June 20, 2012

Beans are known as delicious, excellent sources of protein and fiber, and lately have gained attention as good sources for thiamin, iron, folate and potassium. Recent studies have found that they're also a great source of antioxidants! And they're great for weight-conscious! It's no wonder that the lowly bean has vaulted to the status superfood! There are a lot of reasons for this and if you haven't raised your consumption of the lowly legume yet, read on, because the more you learn about beans, the more desirable they become!
  • A recent study released by the National Nutrition and Health Examination Survey found that adults and children who regularly eat beans weigh 6.6 pounds less than those who do not.
  • A study reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded that men and women who consumed beans 4 times a week had a 22% lower risk for heart disease than those who consume beans or beans only once per week.
  • The National Cancer Institute found that eating more dried legumes, such as pinto or navy beans and lentils, significantly lowers the risk of developing colon cancer. In one study, participants with a history of polyps who added the most dried beans to their diets reduced risk for recurrence of advanced polyps four fold. Another study of nearly 35,000 women found that those who ate four of more servings of beans each week reduced their risk of developing colorectal cancer by approximately one-third!
  • Findings from the Nurse's Study II show that women who eat lentils or beans just twice a week reduce their risk of developing breast cancer by 24% compared to women who eat beans and lentils once a month or less.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture ranked three varieties of beans in the top four foods if you're looking for antioxidant benefits! Color is the key when choosing beans high in antioxidants -- one study found red beans to have the highest antioxidant level, with black beans coming in second place. Who knew there were beans floating in the fountain of youth!
  • One cup of beans contain about 4 grams of soluble dietary fiber, which has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol in numerous studies. In facet, several clinical studies indicate that consumption of canned and dry beans reduces both total and LDL cholesterol along with significant increases in HDL cholesterol.
  • Beans provide a significant amount of folate, a B vitamin that reduces homocysteine levels, thereby reducing a serious risk factor for vascular disease.
  • Beans help reduce blood glucose and insulin concentrations, reducing the incidence and consequences of diabetes.
Beans have the reputation of being a 'gassy' food. The primary method of dealing with this problem is to soak the beans for at least 12 hours before you cook them. Another method is to user herbs and spices during the cooking process... try cumin, garlic, rosemary, tumeric or fennel seeds! Beans contain energy sustaining complex carbohydrates, essential vitamins and minerals. Low in fat and sodium with over 1000 varieties to choose from, beans offer a lot of variety to your daily menu. The lowly bean... a mighty force in a healthful diet!

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