Mar 13 2022

Where have you “bean” all my life?

Published by at 12:09 pm under Dietary Guidelines

Where have you “bean” all my life?

Beans and legumes are plentiful, good for you and so much less expensive than meat.*

You don’t have to look far to see the rising cost of everything. Step into the grocery store and sticker shock is everywhere, especially meat prices and red meat in particular. I have some good news for you! One of the healthiest things you can eat for your microbiome is also one of the cheapest things you can buy. And that is beans and legumes! (For definition sake, all beans are legumes, but not all legumes are beans). They really are the perfect food. They offer an excellent source of protein, minerals, vitamins, and complex carbohydrates. They are practically sodium-free, very low in fat, and very high in fiber, making them filling and a great source of prebiotics.(1,2)*  

Even the beans with the lowest fiber content have more fiber than most other foods. One cup of high-fiber beans, such as black beans or pinto beans delivers a whopping 16 grams of fiber. The fiber found in beans is primarily soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol making beans an excellent heart-healthy alternative to meat. Including beans and legumes in your diet confers such health benefits as helping reduce cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels and promoting and increasing healthy gut bacteria because fiber is a prebiotic on which healthy bacteria feed. Eating plenty of beans in your diet along with lots of fresh produce, in combination with taking Body Biotics™ Bio-Identical SBO Probiotics Consortia™, will help ensure your gut stays healthy and your immune system strong. It can also promote weight loss if that is your goal.1*

“…The American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, and American Cancer Society recommend legumes and beans as one of the most important food groups for disease prevention and optimal health…” When you look at the healthiest regions of the world, legumes and beans are a staple in the diet. Whether it is in the Mediterranean or Japan, you will find beans and legumes as a regular part of the menu. (2,3)*

Let’s look at just a few beans and legumes and their health benefits!  

Chickpeas

Multiple scientific studies have shown that chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, can help with weight loss, reduce risk factors for heart disease, and possibly even the risk of cancer, especially when they are substituted for red meat in the diet. In Campodimele, Italy, a hilltop village south of Rome, there are “…so many centenarians that it’s known in Europe as the “Village of Longevity.” Daily, its citizens enjoy a diet full of beans like lentils, chickpeas, and white beans…” (1,3)*

When compared to other high-carb foods, chickpeas are highly beneficial at reducing blood sugar and increasing insulin sensitivity. Consuming chickpeas may also improve cholesterol levels.  “…A number of studies have shown that chickpeas can reduce both total cholesterol and “bad” low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which are risk factors for heart disease …” Other studies have demonstrated how chickpeas may also reduce levels of unfriendly bacteria in the intestines while helping improve bowel function.1*

Just one cup of chickpeas contains 12.5 grams of fiber, 14.5 grams of protein, and the recommended dietary intake of the following: 71%  folate (vitamin B9), 84% Manganese, 29% Copper, and 26%  Iron. 1*

Soybeans

 “…The people of Okinawa, Japan, who have the highest percentage of centenarians on earth, eat a diet rich in soybean-based products…”3*

Soybeans come in different forms. It can be consumed whole after cooking, known as edamame. It can be eaten in processed form such as soy milk and tofu, and after fermentation such as in soy sauce and miso paste.  In Japan, where life expectancy is the highest in the world, soybeans are a staple in the diet. “…The higher life expectancy of Japanese people is mainly due to fewer deaths from ischemic heart disease and cancers, particularly breast and prostate cancer. This low mortality is mainly attributable to a low rate of obesity, low consumption of red meat, and high consumption of fish and plant foods such as soybeans and tea…”3*

Soybeans also contain high levels of antioxidants called isoflavones. These isoflavones are phytoestrogens that can mimic the effect of estrogen in the body, which can be beneficial for women going through menopause.  “…A large study of 403 postmenopausal women found that taking soy isoflavones for two years, in addition to calcium and vitamin D, significantly reduced the loss of bone density that occurs during menopause…” Soybeans and the antioxidants they contain may also help reduce heart disease risk factors such as blood pressure and blood cholesterol. (1,3)*

In one cup of cooked soybeans, you will find 10.3 grams of fiber, 28.6 grams of protein and the recommended dietary intake of the following: 71% Manganese, 49% Iron, 42%  phosphorus, 41% Vitamin K, 29%  riboflavin, and 23% folate.1*

Black Beans

Like other beans, black beans are a great source of fiber, protein, and folate. They are a staple food in Central and South America and are often served with rice, to create a complete protein.1* .

One cup of cooked black beans contains approximately: 15 grams of fiber, 15.2 grams of protein and the recommended daily intake of the following: 64% folate (Vitamin B9), 38% manganese, 28% Thiamine (Vitamin B1), 20% Iron.1*

Black beans, like all legumes and beans, have a lower glycemic index compared to many other high carb foods, which may also help reduce the spike in blood sugar that occurs after eating a meal, which may help reduce the risk of diabetes and weight gain.1*

Lentils

A great source of vegetarian protein, lentils can be added to soups and stews, made into patties for a delicious vegetarian burger, and have a number of great health benefits! (1,2)*

In one cup of cooked lentils you’ll find: 15.6 grams of fiber, 17.9 grams of protein, and the RDI of the following: 90% folate (vitamin B9), 49% manganese, 29% copper, 22% thiamine (Vitamin B1).1*

Similar to chickpeas, lentils can help reduce blood sugar compared to other foods. A study of more than 3,000 people found that those who had the highest intake of lentils, as well as other legumes, had the lowest rates of diabetes. These benefits are likely due to the positive effect lentils and other legumes have on the gut such as promoting friendly bacteria growth and slowing the rate that the stomach empties which helps with digestion and prevents spikes in blood sugar.  1*

“…Lentil sprouts may also help heart health by reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol and increasing “good” HDL cholesterol…”1*

Peas

Peas are a great source of fiber and protein. You can find pea protein in a lot of plant-based food items and protein drinks, which we covered in our blog about protein supplements, dated February 11, 2022. Pea protein continues to pop up as a great protein alternative including in dog food. In a study of 23 overweight people with elevated cholesterol levels, eating 1.8 ounces of pea flour per day for 28 days, compared to eating wheat flour, significantly reduced insulin resistance and belly fat. Other studies have shown consuming pea flour and pea fiber helps reduce the increase in insulin and blood sugar after a meal, reducing blood triglycerides and increasing feelings of fullness. 1*

One cup of cooked peas contain: 8.8 grams of fiber, 8.2 grams of protein, and the recommended daily intake of the following: 24%  folate, 22% Manganese, 48%  Vitamin K, 30% Vitamin B1.1*

There are lots of beans and legumes beyond what we covered here today for you to add to your daily menu. Recipes are bountiful online so if you haven’t been adding plenty of beans and legumes to your diet, start today!  Not only are they healthier than animal protein, but they are so much more cost-effective! And most importantly they are so good for promoting friendly bacteria growth in the gut. Additionally, growing legumes and beans are better for the environment than animal products, which is the main contributor to methane gas being released into the atmosphere. There’s never ‘bean’ a better time to add legumes and beans to your diet. (1,4)*

Healthiest wishes,

Kelli

www.bodybiotics.com

 

Resources:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/healthiest-beans-legumes#TOC_TITLE_HDR_11
  2. https://www.medicinenet.com/what_are_legumes_vs_beans/article.htm
  3. https://observatoireprevention.org/en/2021/03/09/why-do-the-japanese-have-the-highest-life-expectancy-in-the-world/
  4. https://www.iea.org/reports/methane-tracker-2020

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