The Benefits of Beans: 6 Reasons Why YOU Should Eat Beans
Im not a big meat eater, thinking about it I don’t believe I have ever been (this maybe because I was determented when I was young, when my Aunt told me that some crumbed lambs brains were chicken nuggets..after I had eaten almost 10 of them! Now I don’t know which is worse). In any case it seems that I may have passed my lack of interest in these proteins onto my daughter. So I’ve had to be creative about how we get protein in our diet.
Beans has been one way of doing this, as a result my daughter loves beans! At her childcare centre they are amazed at how she eats all her beans, and when she’s finishes says, what they think sounds like ‘Chickpeas please’
There is a huge variety of beans available for most any palate; these are just a few that are quite popular in Australia:
- kidney beans
- black eyed peas
- mung beans
- brown lentils
- red beans
- red lentils
- broad beans
- green lentils
- soy beans
- haricot beans
- butter beans
- yellow split peas
- fava beans
- green split peas
- black beans
- white beans
- green beans
| Beans & Protein
Thanks to a relentless campaign from food industries, we have a highly exaggerated idea of the amount of protein that is needed by our bodies. In fact, we only need a small percentage of the amount we usually get. If you refuse to believe this statement, consider mother’s milk, which contains only 1.6 grams of protein per 1/2 cup, less than one half the protein of cow’s milk. The greatest growth time of our lives is when we are babies, so if we needed huge amounts of protein wouldn’t mother’s milk, the “perfect food”, provide it?
In fact, there are serious dangers to high protein diets. Two examples are: osteoporosis and kidney disease. The bone thinning disease of osteoporosis is an epidemic in the United States and high amount of protein have unquestionably played a huge part in this explosion. High protein diets cause calcium to be lost in the urine. This calcium does not come from the meat – it comes from our bones. Animal products create uric acid which makes our blood acidic. Calcium is the mineral that is most needed by the body to fight acidity – and in its valiant attempt to protect itself, the body pulls this needed calcium from the bones, the most abundant source we have.
Further, if we eat more protein than the human body can use, it is broken down and excreted which overworks the kidneys by increasing the amount and flow of urine. The “nephrons”, which are the kidneys filter units, gradually die off in the process.
So, yes, we need protein – but not a huge amount of it and the best advice is to stick to plants. A variety of plant foods provides all the protein we need.
Beans & Fiber
There are two kinds of fiber. The first is “insoluble” fiber, which can’t be used by the human body. Instead it moves on through, carrying out waste products and toxins. The more insoluble fiber we have, the less likely we are to retain foods inside our bodies which keep them from putrefying. I know that’s a gross thought but it doesn’t make it any less true.
“Soluble” fiber becomes gooey and helps to process fats, lowers cholesterol and slows the release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream. Many have reported a lower cholesterol level just from consuming more fiber.
Quite simply, fiber is what makes you feel full, obviously if we feel full we will eat less and be more satisfied, our appetite will be more easily controlled and we will either lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
Beans & Weight Loss
The most popular theory of dieting and weight loss for decades has revolved around calories. Experts have loudly proclaimed that there is an immutable formula for calories in, calories out but, in fact, all calories are not the same because some calories require much more digestion than others. The harder your body has to work to digest those calories, the less of them will be absorbed. The difference between a spoonful of sugar and a spoonful of beans is startling. In fact, if you’d like to reduce your calorie “price” by 10%, add an extra 14 grams of fiber. This means that if you eat 2,000 calories per day, and add 28 grams of fiber to your meals, those calories will only “count” as 1600. Cool!
It’s easy to get 30, 40, 50 or more grams of fiber a day. There are four foods that supply lots of healthy fiber;
- Whole grains
With beans being the best source of fiber, set a target of at least 40 grams per day. Beans have approximately 15 grams of fiber per cup.
Beans & Blood Sugar
Scientists rate how quickly foods release their natural sugars into the bloodstream using a number called the glycemic index or GI. Foods on the low end of the glycemic scale release their natural sugars slowly over a period of time. Probably most resident in the western world have experienced the famous ‘sugar high’ and researchers are positive that sugar – literally – acts like a drug on the human system. In fact, some scientists have compared sugar to heroin!
Low glycemic foods, on the other hand, release their sugars more slowly and steadily, acting as constant source of energy. These foods don’t send your blood sugar skyrocketing only to crash soon after, causing your appetite to return and often making snacks irresistible. And, if you’re overweight, your body tissues are most likely more sensitive to insulin, the hormone that controls your blood sugar.
What makes a food low or high on the glycemic scale? It’s about the carbohydrate molecules of the substance. With low-GI food, the molecules are stacked and dense and have been compared to a stack of logs waiting to be burned in the winter fireplace. When the agents of digestion in your body – your enzymes – go to work on these logs, it takes a long time to burn them and that’s why your blood sugar isn’t affected much.
High GI carbs are more like branches or twigs, with their molecules spread apart and are surrounded by space. Your enzymes quickly break them apart, releasing all their sugar into the blood at more or less the same time.
So guess who’s the undisputed champion of the low GI food groups? That’s right: beans, peas, lentils, legumes – with green veggies being a close second.
Beans & Leptin
A few years ago, it was discovered that a hormone named “Leptin” controlled the human appetite. There was an incredible excitement over this discovery and the dieting world hailed The Answer for all overweight folks. Unfortunately, Leptin from outside sources has thus far been a huge flop.
Leptin is made by our body’s fat cells. When the cells realize there is enough nourishment available, they release Leptin into the bloodstream which has two important effects:
* Your appetite declines
* Your metabolism is boosted and thus calories are consumed more quickly
Plant based low-fat foods help to keep Leptin levels high – while fatty foods, like animal products, suppress your Leptin supply. Beans are only 2-3% fat which means they raise your Leptin levels and reduce appetite, while causing your metabolism to work harder and faster.
|LEAN GROUND BEEF
Amount: 4 ounces
Fat grams: 20
Protein grams: 23
Fiber in grams: 0
Amount: 8 ounces [twice as much as the beef]
Calories: 227 [discount by 10%-30% due to high fiber content]
Fat grams: .09
Protein grams: 17.9
Fiber in grams: 15
Beans & Nutrients
Beans are loaded with nutrients that our bodies need:
- B Vitamins: are necessary for healthy brain and nerve cells, for normal functioning of the skin, nerves and digestive system.
- Calcium: for strong bones and teeth and to help keep the body more alkaline, rather than acidic.
- Potassium: helps reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.
- Folate: a B vitamin that our bodies don’t produce yet dry beans are our single best source of this important vitamin which helps protect against heart disease and cancer.
If the benefits of beans can’t persuade you to give this food group a try, then consider this: Beans are cheap, versatile and tasty! There are thousands of bean recipes available, but simple experimentation might lead you to find a bean recipe that you enjoy.
You may have heard about bean spouting, it’s the in thing at the moment because the secrets about the benefits of sprouting are out! Bean sprouting can easily be done in your own home, but looks like I will have to write a separate article about sprouting because there is so much to say on the topic. Until then check out our website for more info about sprouting beans & kits – http://www.healthforce.com.au/index.php?cPath=52&osCsid=d7c67d0f696e653da5e93cf370ea13c2
Enjoy your beans!