Health Benefits of Beans and Legumes

Health Benefits of Beans and Legumes

The little legume has taken on heroic virtues in light of recent research. Studies have shown that members of the legume family help prevent heart disease, fight cancer, stabilize blood-sugar levels, lower cholesterol, and help prevent obesity. Beans and legumes are important in the prevention of heart disease, mainly because of their ability to lower cholesterol, especially LDL (the bad cholesterol), and reduce blood-lipid levels. By virtue of their high fiber content, a mere half cup of dry beans can lower cholesterol levels by almost 20%.

Beans are loaded with both insoluble and soluble fiber. One cup of beans contains between 12-17 grams of fiber - as much as five large potatoes or four cups of corn, and enough to account for half the daily recommendation of 30 grams of fiber. The high-fiber content of legumes and beans helps control diabetes by slowing the amount and pace of sugar entering the bloodstream. Some studies have shown that beans can reduce the need for insulin by almost 40%, and eating beans can almost completely eliminate the need for insulin in people with non-insulin dependent diabetes. A bean-rich diet helped control diabetes by lowering blood-sugar levels and improving the ratio of blood fat - an important consideration for diabetics, who are three to four times as likely to suffer heart attacks and strokes.

Beans have also shown promise in protecting against cancer, including pancreatic cancer, and cancers of the colon, breast, and prostate. Lignins, also called phytoestrogens, have been shown to have estrogen-like properties and to help regulate estrogen levels and activity. High consumption of foods rich in lignins may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer that are related to estrogen levels, especially breast cancer. Lignins and bioflavonoid may also have a chemo preventive effect on cancers of the male reproductive system. Other compounds in beans and legumes include phytates, which may help prevent certain types of intestinal cancer.

Nature couldn't have invented a food closer to perfect than beans. They are high in protein, low in fat, cholesterol-free, low in sodium, and packed with beneficial nutrients that can do everything from reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease to stabilize blood-sugar levels. With some advance planning, they don't take long to cook, and the variety of colors, shapes, sizes, and flavors is remarkable. Try to eat at least half a cup of beans three to five times a week - cook up a big pot once a week and add them to soups, casseroles, and salads, or blend them with a little tahini or herbs and spices as a sandwich spread.

Legumes : Calories, Fat and Folic Acid

  Calories Fat (Grams) Folid Acid
Black turtle beans 114 5 64
Garbanzos 143 1.4 40
Kidney beans 112 .5 57
Lima beans 108 .4 39
Navy beans 129 .5 64
Pinto beans 117 .4 73

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