Are you still buying the childhood rhyme, “Beans, beans, the magical fruit, the more you eat the more you toot”? You are not alone. Fear of flatulence is the number one reason people give for not making beans and legumes a regular part of their diet. However, what’s become common “wisdom” is, in most cases, wrong. Those not used to eating beans may briefly have excess gas, but research has shown that by sticking with a diet that includes legumes, this inconvenient side effect diminishes over time. People with IBS or other intestinal issues may find legumes particularly bothersome; however, for the majority, the health benefits of consuming beans outweighs any discomfort and embarrassment a temporary spike in gas may cause.
Lentils, black beans, soy beans, chickpeas, cannellini beans are just a few popular examples of the amazing legume. They are cheap, nutritious, delicious and powerful disease fighters. A 2004 study concluded that eating legumes was the “most important dietary predictor of survival in older people of different ethnicities.” The study found an 8% reduction in risk of death for every 20 grams increase in daily legumes intake. (Keep in mind a can of beans contains about 250 grams).
Here are a few things legumes have going for them:
- An economical dietary source of good quality protein and are higher in protein than most other plant foods. Legumes have about twice the protein content of cereal grains.
- Generally low in fat, virtually free of saturated fats and contain no cholesterol. Soybeans and peanuts are the exception, with significant levels of mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, including alpha-linolenic acid.
- Rich in energy-giving carbohydrates, with a low GI rating for blood glucose control.
- A good source of B-group vitamins (especially folate), iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium.
- Low in sodium – sodium content of canned legumes can be reduced by up to 41% if the product is drained and rinsed.
- Abundant in fiber, including both insoluble and soluble fiber, plus resistant starch for colonic health benefits.
- Rich in phytonutrients (e.g. isoflavones, lignans, protease inhibitors). Soy beans are particularly high in phytoestrogens, with research over the last 20 years linking soy foods and/or phytoestrogens to a reduced risk of certain cancers including breast and prostate cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis and problems associated with menopause
- Gluten free – as such, legumes are suitable for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Legumes and Nutrition – Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council / Australia
Increased Lifespan From Beans, Michael Greger, M.D.
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