You may be familiar with a childish rhyme that proclaims beans are good for your heart. When I heard it way back when, I thought it was a joke. I had heard many times that fruits and vegetables (and other foods that my mother was wrong about) were good for your health. I had never, though, heard a serious discussion about beans.
Decades later, I now know that beans rank with the healthiest fruits and vegetables as foods that are good for you. Are beans a superfood and a healthy choice? That might be an exaggeration, but here are some facts about beans.
Beans Are Packed with Fiber
Do you have any idea how deficient American diets are in fiber? An article by Mercola.com, a website that specializes in health article, reports that men should eat 30 to 38 grams of fiber daily, and women should eat 21 to 25 grams daily. Instead, the average American man eats 17 grams daily, while the average American woman eats 13 grams reports “The Health Benefits of Fiber.”
People who eat a high-fiber diet have a 40 percent lower risk of heart disease, have a significantly lower risk of stroke, are easy to lose weight more easily because fiber increases your feelings of fullness and have a lower risk of skin problems, gallstones and kidney stones. The Mayo Clinic report “Nutrition and healthy eating” says that your best choices of food with fiber include beans, fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread and cereals, peas, nuts, and seeds.
Split peas, lentils, black beans and lima beans have the first, second, third and fourth most grams of fiber per cup, according to “The 16 Most Surprising High-Fiber Foods.” The Livestrong.com article “Ten Kinds of High-Fiber Beans” lists the following beans — white, navy, great northern, adzuki, kidney, pinto, black, cranberry, chickpeas, and lentils.
Beans are Packed with Antioxidants
Antioxidants are chemicals that prevent free radicals that are inside your body from causing damage to your body. Essentially, antioxidants reduce your chances of getting age-related diseases such as heart disease and some kinds of cancer. Thus, they can help you live longer. Your body makes antioxidants, but antioxidants are also in foods and vitamins. Vitamins A, C, and E are antioxidants.
The title of the WebMD article “Antioxidant Superstars: Vegetables and Beans” make it clear that beans are packed with antioxidants. “Researchers used advanced technology to study 100 fruits, vegetables, and other food sources to measure the levels of antioxidants,” the article reports. “Beans were the clear winners.” Red beans had the most antioxidants of any food — 13,727 in half a cup. Red kidney beans and pinto beans are also in the top four foods in antioxidants. Black beans, navy beans, and black-eyed peas aren’t far behind.
Beans are Packed with Protein
Your mother might have told you that you should eat meat because it has a lot of protein. It does. It also has lots of fats and saturated fat. Beans, on the other hand, are packed with protein but are low in fat and saturated fat. The Demand Media article “What Types of Beans Have the Highest Amount of Protein?” reports that beans are the “next-highest source of protein after (high-fat) animal-based foods.” Yes, beans have more protein than fruits and vegetables.
“Beans are such good sources of protein that the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) includes them in both the vegetable and protein food groups,” the article says. Soybeans have more protein than any other bean. Other beans with a lot of protein include adzuki, black, garbanzo, kidney, navy, pinto, and white.
Are beans good for you? You can argue that the answer to this question is “no” because beans are, in fact, great for you.