Beans really are an incredible food! In addition to being one of the most delicious and versatile vegetables out there, they are one of the healthiest food options out there! There’s a reason they call beans a superfood.
Sure, beans are tasty and full of protein that can help keep you fit, healthy and packed full of energy, but those aren’t the only ways beans are good for your body. More than just protein, the different vitamins and nutrients that are packed inside of beans can promote the health and strength of many areas of the body – some of which may surprise you!
Here are 5 things you may not expect beans to be helpful to the health of!
Beans are one of the best foods for those concerned about maintaining a healthy heart (like we all should be). Compared to other protein sources, beans are extremely low in cholesterol. High levels of cholesterol can extremely limit blood flow to your heart, which can lead to a long list of health risks.
Low blood flow to the heart greatly increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. Those concerned about heart health can benefit from the low-cholesterol and fat content of beans in the food they prepare.
Beans (especially pinto beans and kidney beans) are full of Omega 3 Fatty Acids, a nutrient that greatly contributes to brain function and helps keep the mind sharp and healthy. In fact, beans are so good for your brain that they are a staple in a diet specifically used to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease called the MIND Diet.
This makes beans a particularly healthy food choice for seniors who may be entering a greater risk of Alzheimer’s Disease. While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, prevention methods such as eating foods like beans that promote brain health and keep your brain healthier for longer and help reduce the risk of developing the disease.
Not only do beans help keep you full while consuming fewer calories and carbohydrates, but many beans (especially black beans and navy beans) can also improve your stomach health. How do they do that?
There is actually quite a bit of bacteria inside your gut. But, before you get too alarmed there is plenty of good bacteria out there that helps with digestion and deal with anything nasty that may make its way down to your stomach. The fiber found in beans can’t be digested by your stomach, but the good bacteria in your stomach gets to chow down on it.
They fiber consumed by this bacteria helps them to grow and keeps them healthy so they can continue to protect your gut from not-so-healthy bacteria that can cause diseases and infections.
Most beans, particularly garbanzo beans, black-eyed peas and kidney beans, are loaded with zinc. One of zinc’s functions is helping Vitamin A from the liver to your retina to produce melanin, found in the tissue beneath your eyes.
Too little zinc can cause poor eyesight, impaired vision at night and even cause cataracts to form over time. The high zinc content of beans makes them a convenient and delicious way to get your 11 mg/day of zinc many doctors would recommend. Chickpeas, for instance, can contain as much as 5 mg/per cup!
All of these things we just said are great for you are also great for growing babies too! Beans are one of the most nutritious and beneficial foods for women to eat during pregnancy. Babies need plenty of protein, fiber, iron, zinc and calcium as they grow and mature. Depriving pregnant mothers of these vitamins and minerals also deprives their babies.
Beans are also a great source of folate, which is considered a crucial part of a woman’s diet during pregnancy because of its use in helping develop the brain and spinal cord of babies and protect against birth defects in those areas as well.
Ready for healthier living and eating with beans? Check out our recipes for something new and delicious each month!