There’s a rumor floating around here. Have you heard of it yet? The secret has been around forever! However, it’s high time to spill the beans. Oh wait, that is the secret! Beans! You know them; you’ve seen the little tiny legumes in your garden, in the grocery store, or on your dinner plate. You eat them, and you hate them or you love them. Whatever your feelings are about them, one thing is for sure: beans are one of the best foods to include in our diets.
Beans are the mature form of legumes, which are plants grown and coveted for their nutrient-filled seeds. According to the USDA, beans belong to both the vegetable and protein food groups and are recommended for their high nutrient content. They are one of the best sources of protein and carbohydrates. What makes them even more appealing is the fact that there are endless varieties of beans to choose from: pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans, and lima beans. But first, let’s examine what nutrients beans have to offer!
Beans contain important nutrients like vitamin B6, zinc, calcium, and iron. Vitamin B6 protects against the memory decline and hair loss. Zinc is known to aid in tissue growth and the maintenance of healthy skin. Calcium and iron are two of the most important minerals that our bodies need for strong bones and healthier blood cells. Lastly, beans are a rich source of soluble and insoluble fibers, so they can help with digestion by preventing constipation and diarrhea. But the benefits of beans don’t stop here!
Image Source: Patrizia Savarese
A diet rich in beans not only helps with weight loss, but also helps combat certain health conditions. Cancer, diabetes, and heart disease all have one risk factor in common: diets high in fat. Experts say that since beans are full of fiber and water, eating them can create the sensation of fullness faster. Hence, eating beans can satiate our fat cravings and subsequently reduce our risk of getting cancer, diabetes, and heart disease! Furthermore, beans are digested slowly, unlike sugars and grains, and this slow digestion prevents hunger from creeping up quickly.
Beans are also low in sugar. Therefore, when we digest beans, sugar is released slowly and steadily. As a result, there is a constant input of energy, without the crash and burn that occurs after eating sugary snacks. Thus, digesting beans prevents the sudden increase of insulin, which signals hunger. Metabolism also increases, and calories are consumed more quickly. A recent study showed that even if bean-eaters consume more calories than bean-avoiders, bean-eaters weighed seven pounds less on average and had slimmer waists. Thus, beans can be incredibly helpful to losing weight and maintaining a healthier lifestyle.
The bottom line is that beans are one of the most nutritious foods to incorporate into your diet. And if you claim to hate beans, perhaps you simply haven’t tried the infinite varieties of recipes out there that include different types of beans. Your favorite food may even contain beans, and you might not know it! If your interest has been piqued, here are some delicious recipes to try; there are even more possibilities here and here. The next time you’re making dinner, throw in some beans to your salad, chili, or pasta. You won’t regret it, and neither will your body!
Feature Image Source: Mr Beans by Kenneth Leung