Friday, December 14, 2012

Beans, Beans they are good for your heart

We have all heard the children’s song Beans, beans they’re good for your heart.  It turns out beans benefit your heart and your waist line.  The Egyptians even call fava beans, or more commonly known as broad beans, a poor man’s meat.  Current research shows legumes, another name for dried beans, possess preventive and therapeutic powers against heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and other chronic diseases.   Not only do they fight against disease but pulses, i.e. dried beans, are also high in fiber, low in fat, rich in antioxidants, reduce cholesterol and combat obesity .  

How can these little beans be some beneficial?

Half a cup of kidney beans has 8 grams of fiber; about one third the amount of fiber an average woman needs in a day.  Fiber passes through the body unabsorbed and discarded as feces.  This fiber fills a person for a longer time because it takes time to pass through the intestines.  Which makes digestion of the whole meal go slow resulting in a gradual increase of one’s blood sugar levels compared to sudden sky rocket then plummet of one’s blood sugar due to a high carbohydrate meal which is the reason people feel tired and hungry a little while after eating low fiber meals.  Additionally, legume fiber bonds to cholesterol in the intestine inhibiting it’s absorption and as result lowering blood cholesterol.  In short, fiber in the pulses helps lower blood sugar and cholesterol while making a person feel satisfied for a longer period of time.

Fiber is not the only magical ingredient in beans; protein also plays an important role.  Protein digestion is a complicated process making a person feel full for an extended period just like the fiber.  Diets high in protein help prevent diabetes because they do not raise blood sugar levels; which is why legumes are particularly good for preventing and controlling diabetes.

Beans maintain an essential part of a healthy diet.  Research shows that diets high in complex carbohydrates, like the ones found in beans, and low in fat are important for a healthy life-style. Legumes are a great weight loss food because they are packed with nutrients and satisfy for longer durations.  In review, legumes contain fiber, protein, antioxidants, iron and many other vital vitamins and minerals.  Pulses also protect against heart disease and diabetes by reducing LDL, bad cholesterol, and controlling blood sugar levels.  Beans are inexpensive and versatile making them easy to incorporate in one’s diet.  The only drawback is that they can cause gas.  But for all the benefits, beans are worth it.

1.            Trinidad, T.P., et al., The potential health benefits of legumes as a good source of dietary fibre. British Journal of Nutrition, 2009. First View: p. 1-6.

2.            Anderson, J.W. and A.W. Major, Pulses and lipaemia, short- and long-term effect: Potential in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. British Journal of Nutrition, 2002. 88(SupplementS3): p. 263-271.

3.            Insel; Paul, T.E., Ross; Don, Nutrition. 2 ed. 2004: Jones and Barlett.

4.            Rizkalla, S.W., F. Bellisle, and G. Slama, Health benefits of low glycaemic index foods, such as pulses, in diabetic patients and healthy individuals. British Journal of Nutrition, 2002. 88(SupplementS3): p. 255-262.


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