From longevity and satisfaction to being great for the planet, here’s why the humble bean is so mighty.
Published August 10, 2023 03:14PM EDT
Ah, the humble bean. They star in favorite dishes from around the world—cassoulet, feijoada, red beans and rice, loubia, pasta e fagioli, and many more. Beans are as cheap and durable as they are delicious and nutritious; it’s no wonder that they’ve been such an important part of our diets throughout history. And they are a superbly sustainable food choice as well.
Beans may not have the most glamorous reputation—perhaps because of their modesty. But we’ve seen other humble foods become “it” foods; it wasn’t all that long ago that kale and Brussels sprouts were very much unloved, and look at them now.
So consider this a PR campaign for beans. Aside from being one of the greatest comfort foods ever, here’s what else the mighty bean has going for it.
1. Superb Practicality
Beans provide protein, fiber, folate, iron, potassium, and magnesium while containing little or no total fat, trans-fat, sodium, and cholesterol. Compared to meat, Harvard Medical School puts it plainly: “beans are a much better nutritional bargain than steak.” Beans are inexpensive, and whether canned or dried, they have a long shelf life. Lastly, for those of us who are soothed by stirring a pot of a simmering-something over the course of a day, beans are meditation, therapy, and dinner, all in one.
2. A Longer Life
Michelle McMacken, a board-certified internal medicine physician and an assistant professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine, explains that beans and other legumes (like lentils and chickpeas) are “the most important dietary predictor of longevity in people of different ethnicities.” All this time, we thought the fountain of youth was comprised of some ethereal and mysterious potion—and it’s really just beans?
In one study, nearly 800 older adults in several countries increased their daily bean and legume consumption—for each 20-gram increase, there was a 7 to 8% lower risk of dying during the study period.
3. Less Diabetes
The American Diabetes Foundation calls beans a “diabetes superfood” for their vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Meanwhile, the Harvard Medical School notes that a cup of beans or lentils each day, when combined with a low-glycemic diet, helped lower blood sugar levels and coronary artery disease risk in patients with type 2 diabetes. “Legumes, because they pack a lot of protein, help dampen the blood sugar response, and lower blood pressure. And as a good source of fiber, beans can help lower cholesterol, too.”
4. A Healthier Heart
Photographer, Basak Gurbuz Derman / Getty Images
Research shows that eating beans and legumes four or more times a week versus less than once a week leads to a 22% lower risk of coronary heart disease. That is really significant. Research also shows that these power foods lower blood pressure as well. Additionally, a single serving of beans a day can reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol by 5%.
5. Less Cancer
While, of course, the bean growers association known as the Bean Institute is going to sing the praises of beans, their site is a great resource for scientific studies backing up their claims. The research they cite shows that regular bean consumption may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, noting that: “Beans’ unique composition of fiber, as well as important micronutrients and antioxidants, makes them an important food choice for many reasons, including their possible anti-cancer properties for certain types of cancer, including colorectal, breast, and prostate.” See more on each of these and the corresponding research at The Bean Institute.
6. More Satisfaction
A black bean burger from Cafe Flora, Seattle.
Photography by Matthew Lankford / Getty Images
Earlier, we reported on a study that found beans and peas more satiating than pork and veal-based meals.More satisfaction means less eating of nutrient-deprived foods, which can lead to weight gain. Another study found that relative to non-bean-eaters, those consuming beans had a lower body weight and a smaller waist size relative to non-consumers. Additionally, consumers of beans had a 23% reduced risk of increased waist size and a 22% reduced risk of being obese. People can be healthy at all sizes—but beans could be part of the equation for anyone thinking about weight and waist size and/or wanting to feel more satisfied.
7. A Great Source of Protein
Looking to give up or reduce your consumption of meat? As mentioned above, beans are more satisfying than meat and are such a good source of plant-based protein—containing between 21 to 25% protein by weight—that they have been identified as a meat alternative by the U.S. government guidelines.
8. More Options, Less Waste
Beans are the perfect pantry staple. They are dirt cheap, last for ages, and can be cooked into a million different dishes. Their long shelf life makes for minimal waste since they don’t spoil. Cooking dried beans from scratch is a breeze, but having a few (BPA-free) cans in the cupboard for quick dinners is still a good option.
Beans can be used in anything from soups, tacos, and vegetable burgers to dips, salads, casseroles, and countless other ways. And as a pantry staple, they are as perfect for natural disaster preparedness as they are for weeknight dinners.
9. Less “End of Civilization”
A 2017 study found that if Americans swapped beef for beans, the U.S. would immediately realize 50 to 75% of the greenhouse gas reduction targets we had set for 2020. Just beef—not eggs or chicken or pork or dairy. As the authors concluded, “the ‘beans for beef’ scenario offers significant climate change mitigation and other environmental benefits, illustrating the high potential of animal to plant food shifts.”
More beans, less eco-apocalypse … what’s not to love?
>>> Read full article>>>
Copyright for syndicated content belongs to the linked Source : TreeHugger – https://www.treehugger.com/reasons-to-eat-a-lot-of-beans-7629500