A healthy diet should contain plenty of high-nutrient foods: foods that give our bodies good health and reduce our risk of many diseases and conditions. Those foods are fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans (legumes), nuts and seeds, and lots of water.
Beans (legumes) are a valuable source of many life-enhancing nutrients. Luckily, there are dozens of kinds to choose from including: garbanzo beans, kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, lima beans, great northern beans, red beans, soy beans and many others.
No matter what kind of bean you choose, it is an excellent source of protein, especially when you combine it with whole grains. Beans and whole grains together provide a wide range of amino acids that are essential to your body. (A good example would be beans and rice. )
Since beans are a source of protein, they can be substituted for meat, important for those who are trying to reduce their intake of meat. Your body must have protein in order to function properly.
Beans are also an excellent source of both types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Fiber acts like a sponge in the body’s digestive tract, absorbing substances containing sugars, fats, carbohydrates, and the calories associated with them.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF FIBER
*FIBER REDUCES HIGH CHOLESTEROL. A diet rich in soluble fiber lowers blood levels of harmful cholesterol without lowering the levels of good cholesterol. The gel that is formed from soluble fiber picks up the cholesterol as it passes through the intestines and carries it out of the body.
*FIBER KEEPS BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS STEADY. Soluble fiber slows the absorption of sugar from the intestines. This steadies the blood sugar level and decreases the ups and downs of insulin secretion. By keeping insulin levels low and stable, the body stores less fat, a boost for anyone trying to lose weight.
*FIBER REDUCES THE RISK OF CERTAIN TYPES OF CANCER. The incidence of colon cancer is significantly lower in people who eat lots of high-fiber food. Fiber binds carcinogens (toxins that can transform normal cells into cancerous ones) and moves them through the bowels quickly, decreasing their potential to do harm. It also binds estrogen, reducing the risk of breast cancer.
*FIBER INCREASES YOUR ENERGY LEVEL. Like protein, fiber slows down the digestion process in your body, guaranteeing a balanced energy level throughout the day.
Beans provide a valuable source of nutrients that our bodies need in order to function at optimum level including calcium and magnesium. These two nutrients build strong bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis. They also maintain healthy muscle tone and combat fatigue.
When shopping for beans, there are numerous choices in your local supermarket. You can buy fresh, frozen, or canned. There are some beans available with low or no added salt. Beans are very versatile and can be added to soups, salads, casseroles, and many other dishes.
In the health foods section of your grocery, you can find ethnic dishes such as Indian and Mexican foods, both containing many bean choices. You can also find canned beans grown without pesticides or herbicides.
If you suffer from excess gas when you eat beans, you can take digestive enzymes or eat beans in small quantities. The easiest beans to digest are green beans, lima beans and tofu (if you can eat soy). Once your system gets accustomed to beans, you can add black beans, kidney beans, and garbanzo beans and others.
Make sure you drink plenty of water every day as water helps to push the fiber through your digestive system promoting healthy bowel movements. Water also speeds up metabolism and flushes toxins out of the body.
As you can see, beans provide excellent nutrient value for your body. Try to include them in your diet every day for maximum health benefits.
Chris Chenoweth, author of the DO-IT-YOURSELF HOME, HEALTH & MONEY GUIDE, writes articles pertaining to diet, exercise, health, and business.