Beans – fiber and protein rich powerhouse of health

Beans, Beans, glorious Beans

Beans, Beans, glorious Beans

Dear Dr. Mo: Are beans really any good to eat? All I know is that they give me gas and cramps, but I’ve heard they might be really healthy so, are they?

Dear reader: Beans are one of the fiber-richest foods out there, especially when it comes to cholesterol lowering soluble fiber. Eating a cup beans, any beans really, a day can lower your total cholesterol levels by as much as 10% and that’s significant.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and binds cholesterol preventing its re-absorption in the body.

In fact, beans are so nutritious and healthy that the latest dietary guidelines recommend a triple of our current suggested intake, from 1 to 3 cups per week, and like I told you, a cup a day would be the best way to go.

Beans are a good meat protein substitute but they are even more than just a simple substitute. Beans have similar calorie count as meat and their water and fiber content will make you feel fuller for longer, which helps in weight management and weight loss and will allow you to cut total daily calories in your diet without starving yourself or skipping any meals. Meat however, contains zero fiber!

How much fiber?

One cup of cooked beans contains about 12 grams of fiber, which is almost half the recommended dose of 25 grams (women) to 35 grams (men) on average. 

Metabolically friendly

Beans are low in sugar and this means that when you eat it the insulin in your blood will not spike and cause sudden hunger. Their water content will help hydration and improve digestion.

Beans and bloating

It’s all the fiber that usually causes bloating, gas and discomfort but a healthy individual should stop experiencing these troubles after a few weeks of eating beans – just be patient until your body adjusts and these problems will go away leaving only a host of benefits beans will provide you with.

In addition there are some culinary tricks to reduce and even eliminate these initial side effects of eating beans like leaving them in water over night prior to cooking  or adding some mint while cooking – look these and similar up and try a few.

Source of Iron and Zink

Beans are a good source of Iron but as with any Iron in plants, it is more difficult to absorb so add some vitamin C rich foods to boost and aid absorption of Iron.
Zink is important for white blood cells health and prostate health and it is generally a trace element very significant for human metabolic processes.

Antioxidants

Last but not the least, beans are rich in antioxidants, which is a class of phytochemicals thought to protect our cells from damage preventing premature aging and cancer. Among the antioxidant richest beans are red kidney beans, small red beans and pinto beans but really any type of beans are just packed with health benefits and a must in our diets.

Yours in health,

Dr. Mo