We know that beans are great for your purse strings, but how are they for your health? Get the lowdown on some of the best reasons to start introducing beans to your diet.
Should you bet your bottom dollar on bodega beans? Plenty of people claim that beans are not only good for your budget, but for your waistline too. After all, we’ve been eating this fibrous foodstuff for thousands of years, so if nothing else, they’ve got longevity going for them! And if the recent glowing reports are anything to go by, beans might actually be a modern superfood hiding in plain sight. Read on to find out more about the health benefits of beans.
They pack a healthy punch of fiber
The one thing that almost everyone knows about beans is that they’re stuffed with fiber. According to standard guidelines, women should aim for around 21–25 grams of fiber per day, while men should be gunning for 30–38 grams. With just one cup of boiled black beans containing 15 grams of fiber, you’re basically halfway to your daily fiber intake with just one serving.
They’re pretty heart-healthy
One of our favorite health benefits of beans could be their impact on cardiovascular health. A study from the British Medical Journal found that just 7 extra grams of fiber each day could reduce your risk of heart disease and cardiovascular disease by a whopping 9%. And that’s not all—beans are great sources of magnesium and potassium, which are awesome for heart health.
They might help you live longer
Obviously, you should probably take this one with a pinch of salt, but there have been numerous studies indicating that beans could make you more long-lived. One study indicated that consuming just 20 grams of legumes per day could help to reduce your risk of death by up to 7–8%, a figure which is substantially more than all other food groups tested in the study.
They may help to lower your cholesterol
Daily servings of beans are reported to lower your intake of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. For reference, that’s the “bad” cholesterol that everyone’s always going about. A review study from the Canadian Medical Journal found that eating beans everyday can actually reduce LDL cholesterol by up to 5%, which means that beans could be particularly useful for people who are trying to manage their cholesterol levels.
They might make it easier to lose weight
Not only are beans good for digestion, they may help you to keep your weight under control. It’s mostly to do with all the protein and fiber that they contain, which makes you feel fuller and delay the return of hunger. Studies have shown that including pulses (beans, peas, and lentils) in your diet can have a beneficial effect on your weight-loss efforts.
Are there any downsides to beans?
Beans seem great across the board, and the consensus seems to be that they’re one of the healthiest foods that you can eat. There have been reports suggesting that if you take certain medications or have specific pre-existing conditions, beans can be a potentially risky choice, so if you suffer from gout or take a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor, it might be a good idea to discuss adding beans to your diet with a doctor. Of course, there’s also the flatulence issue, but that’s really more of an awkward after-effect than a legitimate health problem—although if you do find yourself experiencing particular trouble in this area, schedule an appointment with a doctor to be on the safe side.
What are the most nutritious beans?
Obviously, “bean” is a fairly broad category. There’s a massive range to choose from, and they’ve all got nutritional benefits. Chickpeas are an awesome source of protein and may help to boost gut health and lower cholesterol, while black beans can reduce blood sugar rises after a meal. Ultimately, this is an area where you can’t really go wrong—just experiment and see what you like.
So, are beans good for you? That’s a pretty resounding “Yes!” They’re packed with nutritional goodness and may have an exceptional range of health benefits. The only thing left to do is head down to your local shop and stock up!