Beans offer several health benefits.
Protein is a vital nutrient that plays a key role in the maintenance and repair of the body. Beans are rich in amino acids, the basic components of proteins.
There are 20 amino acids, and nine of these are essential. There are also two types of protein sources: complete and incomplete.
Animal products, soy and quinoa are complete proteins, which means that they contain all nine essential amino acids.
However, of all types of beans, only soy contains all nine amino acids.
People can combine beans with nuts, seeds, dairy products or grains to produce complete proteins.
For example, a person can:
- Eat beans with rice or couscous for lunch
- Take black beans at lunch with almonds or cheese
- Beans are an excellent source of protein for vegetarians and vegans.
Beans contain several vital nutrients, including folate. Folate is essential for overall health, to produce healthy red blood cells and to help prevent neural tube defects in the fetus during pregnancy.
A 1-cup, or 155 g, portion of shellless soybeans provides 482 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid.
According to research, beans are rich in polyphenols, which are a type of antioxidant.
Antioxidants fight the effects of free radicals, which are harmful chemicals that the body produces during metabolism and other processes.
Free radicals can cause cellular damage that can cause various diseases. Antioxidants help the body eliminate free radicals.
In this way, antioxidant-rich foods, such as beans, can help protect the body from disease.
4. Reduce cancer risk
Some studies have shown that beans act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. These effects could reduce the risk of cancer.
Research published in 2015 analyzed whether beans could have antioxidant properties that fight intestinal cancer. The results suggested that black beans had the highest antioxidant activity.
A 2016 study also found that chemicals in black beans in northeast China could slow the growth of cancer by preventing cancer cells from multiplying
5. Heart health
People who consume beans regularly may be less likely to die of a heart attack or other cardiovascular problem. The authors of a 2017 meta-analysis suggested that one reason for the decrease in cardiovascular risk was that people had replaced meat proteins of animals with higher fat content with beans.
A 2013 review and meta-analysis found a clear correlation between eating beans and a lower risk of coronary heart disease.
Other research suggests that the nutrients in beans can help reduce cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor for diseases and heart attacks.
There is evidence that a diet high in fiber can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
A half-cup serving, or 88 g, of black beans provides approximately 14 g of fiber, which is more than half of an adult’s daily fiber requirement.
6. Diabetes and glucose metabolism.
Beans can help stabilize blood glucose levels or even prevent diabetes. Beans are high in fiber, which can help reduce blood glucose.
The author of a 2018 review concluded that eating a diet high in fiber could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. There was also evidence that it can help reduce blood sugar in people who already have the condition.
Another study specifically analyzed the effect of adding a cup of legumes to the daily diet of people with type 2 diabetes. This study showed a reduction in blood sugar levels and lower blood pressures in the group that ate beans on the control group that included more whole wheat fiber.
7. Fatty Liver Prevention
Fatty liver occurs when fats accumulate in the liver. It can develop along with obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and other aspects of metabolic syndrome.
Doctors base the treatment of fatty liver disease on weight loss and blood sugar control, as well as on the reduction of blood fat levels, such as triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins (LDL ), or bad cholesterol. Replacing animal proteins with higher fat content with beans is a good step towards better liver health.
8. Appetite Control
When a person eats beans, the fiber and healthy starches they contain can help create a feeling of fullness and satisfaction.
9. Improves intestinal health
Research has shown that a variety of beans, especially black beans, improve intestinal health by improving intestinal barrier function and increasing the amount of beneficial bacteria. This can help prevent diseases associated with the intestine.
Healthy intestinal bacteria also support immune system function and can promote weight loss. Beans feed healthy colonies of intestinal bacteria.
Some people are allergic to beans or members of the legume family. Peanuts and soy are common triggers. People who are allergic to one type of legume should be careful when consuming other types.
Many beans and legumes contain lectins, which are proteins that are potentially toxic to humans. Soaking and boiling beans reduces lectin content. People should boil the beans for at least 10 minutes to make sure they are safe.
The most common side effects of eating beans are gas and intestinal discomfort. These are not dangerous, but they can be unpleasant and even painful for some people. When a person adds beans to their diet, they should increase the amount gradually so that their intestines have time to adjust.
Beans may not be suitable for a person with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Many people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) find that following a diet low in FODMAP, which restricts certain carbohydrates, reduces their symptoms.
Soak the beans in hot water and discard the water used to soak them. Sprouting, boiling or cooking can help reduce digestive symptoms. People can take digestive enzymes as supplements to help the body digest beans.
Add beans to the diet
The time it takes to cook beans will depend on the type of beans.
When preparing dried beans:
Wash them before cooking and remove those that are wrinkled or discolored.
Soak the beans overnight to soften them and shorten the cooking time. Discard the water and rinse.
Boil the beans in plenty of fresh water, boil for at least 10 minutes and then simmer until soft.
Canned beans are precooked. People can add them to a variety of dishes without additional preparation. However, people should check the label before buying canned beans, as some cans contain a lot of added salt.
Canned beans that do not contain additional salt are available and are an excellent option.
Some simple strategies to add beans to a regular diet include:
Replace the meat with beans. Try adding beans instead of meat to soups, stews and pasta dishes.
Eat refrigerated bean salads. Beans are tasty and abundant as the main ingredient in a salad or as a side dish for other salads.
Mixture of beans and grains. Adding beans to grains can turn an incomplete protein into a complete one. This is useful for people who follow a plant-based diet.
A person may need to try different types of beans to see which ones best suit them.
Beans provide protein, fiber, iron and antioxidants that can make them a healthy addition to the diet.
People should gradually increase their consumption of beans to reduce the risk of intestinal discomfort.