The benefits of beans are so numerous that we can’t say enough in praise of a beans diet. Healthy beans are so outstanding that only green vegetables come close as a valuable food source. Beans are so loaded with nutrition and taste that we’ve listed nine reasons below to devour huge quantities of beans – beginning today.
Reason #1: 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 staunchly 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 and, contrary to a popular myth, we don’t need to ‘combine’ those proteins in any special way to get all eight amino acids that the body doesn’t produce. That notion began with an influential book, Diet For A Small Planet. The author, Frances Moore Lappe, later recanted, admitting she was in error. If only all errors were so readily admitted!
Reason #2: Fiber And Beans
There are two kinds of fiber. The first is “insoluble” fiber, alias ‘roughage’, 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 keeps them from putrefying. Yes, that’s a gross thought but that 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 score 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.
Reason #3: Fiber, Beans And 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
… and in that order, 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.
Reason #4: Fiber, 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 a 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 much affected.
High GI carbs are more like branches or twigs, with their molecules spread apart and surrounded by space. Your enzymes quickly break them apart, releasing all their sugar into the blood at more or less the same time.
Guess who’s the undisputed champion of the low GI food groups? That’s right: legumes – beans, peas, lentils – with green veggies being a close second, calorie for calorie.
Reason #5: A Beans Diet And Leptin
A few years ago, it was discovered that a hormone named “leptin” [its name comes from the Greek word ‘leptos’ which means ‘thin’] 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, [meaning you’re not starving yourself by dieting!] 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. And guess what? 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 above]
Calories: 227 [discount by 10%-30% due to high fiber content]
Fat grams: .09
Protein grams: 17.9
Fiber in grams: 15
= = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Reason #6: Nutrients & Beans
Beans are loaded with nutrients that our bodies crave:
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.
Reason #7: Beans Are Inexpensive
Beans are cheap! In fact, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, in the grocery store that is a bigger bargain than beans, peas and lentils. Yesterday I bought an entire pound of black eyed peas for $1.29. Granted, I normally pay more than that because I almost always buy organic beans. But even those babies are only about double the price of the ones grown with chemicals. Considering their nutritional punch, there simply is nothing in the store that is a better buy than beans. Check out the dried beans and lentils in your store and see for yourself. And if you can buy them in bulk, the way I do, they’re even cheaper.
Reason #8: A Huge Variety Of Beans
There are all kinds of beans available for most any palate … unless you’re one of those unfortunates that really detest beans. But just a thought: considering what a valuable food source beans are, perhaps you should give them a second or a third try.
For instance, my least favorite bean is the kidney bean. I don’t dislike it, I just prefer other kinds and fortunately there are a myriad of choices. These are just a few that are quite popular in the US:
* kidney beans
* soy beans
* garbanzo beans
* adzuki beans
* lima beans
* red lentils
* green lentils
* brown lentils
* black beans
* black eyed peas
* broad beans
* red beans
* butter beans
* fava beans
* great northern beans
* haricot beans
* mung beans
* navy beans
* pinto beans
* yellow split peas
* green split peas
* white beans
Reason #9: Bean Recipes Are Everywhere!
It’s impossible to even guess how many bean recipes exist on this planet. One thing is for sure – the number is in the hundreds of thousands and most likely the millions. If I assigned you the task of listing 100 different bean recipes, you could certainly do it. So in an effort to reinforce their versatility, here are some major headings:
Bean Main Dishes: beans are in stews and casseroles; they’re baked with meat; in some cultures, like that of Mexico, they’re unique dishes that are served constantly [think tacos, enchiladas, chalupas]; cattle drives moved across American eating huge pots of beans at every meal; Indian tribes ate beans for thousands of years.
Vegetarian Bean Main Dishes: vegetarians like me frequently fix main dishes without meat, using beans as the filling ingredient, rather than animal products. I frequently make chilis with beans and baked beans are common. With a salad and crusty bread, they’re yummy!
Baked Beans: are the most famous bean dish and they’re baked with all kinds of different ingredients: onions, garlic, barbecue sauce, cranberries, mushroom, pineapple – even Dr. Pepper and beer.
Bean Salads: everyone has eaten cold beans in salads. I recently ate a cold bean, mandarin orange and purple onion salad that had me threatening mayhem to the person of the hostess if she didn’t hand over the recipe. :-)
Bean Soups: there are bean soups in cultures all over the planet from Cuban black bean soup to Mexican spicy soups to French Canadian pea soup and my favorite, our American Senate Bean Soup.
Bean Dips: are a favorite of most people and are quite popular at all kinds of social gatherings and surely go well at a Super Bowl party with a huge bowl of chips.
Chili With Beans: chili without beans is simply a total flop. Actually, the beans are more important than the meat because there are meatless chilis but virtually no chilis without beans. Some folks cook the beans and meat in a separate pot and mix them together when served.
Bean “Breads”: beans have become so popular that there are many bean flours available these days, and they can be used like grain flours to make bread, pasta, muffins and loaves.
Bean Desserts: while not as common, there certainly are bean desserts. Asians often eat a red bean ice cream [which I’ve never eaten, but definitely will the first chance I get] and there are other goodies like a Pinto Bean Pie and an orange garbanzo cake.
If the benefits of beans can’t persuade you to give this delightful food group and try, then consider this: beans are tasty! There are a bazillion bean recipes available for you to try and simple experimentation might lead you to find healthy beans that you truly enjoy. After all, humans have been eating beans for – literally – millenia and they didn’t eat them for any reason of ‘bean nutrition’. They just ate them because they’re yummy. Anything that I like to eat that makes me healthier definitely gets an A+.
Sydney, this is a fantastic post on beans! You are what you eat and beans are a great way to a balanced diet and until now I did not realize the full health effects of beans, nor the amount of different type of beans available to us today! Thanks for a great post. Sandy.
The article about beans is interesting to read.You have given a lot of useful information regardig beans and necessity of beans in our daily life.It helps me a lot to maintain my diet.thank you……
I always knew beans were “good stuff”, but didn’t really eat them much until two winters ago. I get a bag of “16 Bean Soap”, throw away the enclosed packet of “seasonings” (uck! 100% pure poison, I’m sure!), soak overnight, then cook them up with onions and a small (uh oh, you’re gonna kill me) ham hock. I’ll eat them morning/noon/night, and never burn out on them! Pure carbs, protein, fiber, and the price, oh yeah!
I will be trying some of these recipes, just to tickle my palate a little more – thanks!
PS Thanks for not beating up your hostess, it’s hard to get on the ‘net in prison!
Won’t kill you for the hamhock, shagbark. Hey, it’s worth it if the meat gets you to eat more beans. ;-)
I really enjoy beans. Thanks for the great article. Any extra reasons to eat beans is great!
Amitesh Kumar says
Hi Sydney,congrats for this wonderful and informative post on beans.Many people just have a hearsay about the nutritious value of beans but this post has put it in a great manner.Hopefully beans will now more in the diet list of people who go through this post.
I have been eating more beans recenty and I have to say, they are so filling. It must be the fiber. When I eat beans, I can go hours and not get hungry. It’s been great for me to maintain my weight! I love beans. I’m partial to kidney beans, but I like mung beans too, in soups.
Julie Martin says
Wow! I didn’t know that beans have almost as much protein as red meat, but so much less calories. That was really surprising to me!
I tend to eat a lot of red meat, but I never really stopped to look at the fat or calories. Thank you for the information!
Thank you for your very informative article on beans. I am an avid bean eater, soups, salads, ethnic foods, have been most of my life. This goes back to my family living through the depression and passing along recipes to stretch out a meal. Vegetarians have know the benefit of eating beans for years and now the rest of us are catching up. It’s great to know that they not only taste good, but are good for you.
Thank you so much for the very informative article on beans. I have been an avid bean eater for years, thought it was mostly due to my family living through the depression, stretching that food dollar. It is good to know that they really are good for you in so many ways and the vegetarians are now not the only ones that know this.
Would like to see more articles like this on other foods.
Thanks for the fabulous reminder about a healthful and delicious food. One of my summer favorites is a simple salad of feta, tomatoes and garbanzos. Add a little oregano and some olive oil and balsamic vinegar and you’re good to go. Any other crunchy veggies you’ve got around make a nice addition.
My comfort food are beans. When I was growing up, Hunts Pork and Beans was such a treat and I never really associated it with the fact that my mother was trying to serve dinner on a budget. Now I know that beans are actually good for me, and an affordable way to get protein. Since I am older but still on a budget, I’m eating more beans and loving it.
thank you for this article, it is very informative. beans are a wonderful food to eat, thank you for the valuable info.
Thank you for the great information on Fiber and Beans. I will look over my diet, take your advise and visit this site more
Thank you so much for this article! I’ve been looking for ways to get fiber into my family’s diet, and I think this will be a great way. In fact, I made a bean dish a few nights ago and they loved it. It’s nice to know there’s a healthy fiber source that my girls will eat! And to know that there are more benefits than just the fiber is wonderful news. Thanks again!
It wasn’t until I was living on my own that I learned that beans were delicious AND nutritious. (Up until then, the only beans I’d eaten and liked were baked beans out of a can.) However, when I was totally responsible for my own diet, I began to slowly incorporate beans into my diet. Now, my pantry cupboard is stocked with all sorts of beans (dried and canned) and they are always part of recipes in my house. This may be a bit irreverent, but perhaps you remember the little ditty about beans? It goes:
Beans, beans the musical fruit,
The more you eat, the more you toot.
The more you toot, the better you feel,
So eat beans at every meal!
Bruce Pickering says
Very interesting article/blog ,i don’t usually eat many beans but now ill definitely give them a bigger place in my diet!
I love this article, finally people are giving credits to beans and the many benefits beans have. I work as a personal trainer and recently I pushed a few clients of mine to start eating beans, for nutrition and weight loss reason. all of them dropped at least 3 pounds. At the same time they did not have to hinder their nutrition.
Phillip Skinner says
Hi beans fans far as wide … I like my baked beans with a full English fry up … so they kill the grease … but now I’ve landed on this informative blog post i will treat beans with more respect than just grease killers …. duh
All my best to you and your fryups
Dennis Frost says
Im really getting into beans and all healthy food, trying to be a vegetarian,lol im about a 95% veggy, also trying out vegan diet, ive really reduced my dairy products to a minimum, hardly buy milk now and never buy marg or butter,
Ilove to make spicey bean soup with mixed beans, veg stock, tin chopped tomatoes and ground cumin and garam masala, then i blitz it all with an electric hand blender…yum
I grew up with beans,since my parents cant afford to buy meat…i did not realized how much good fiber i had when i was a little girl no wonder why i’m healthy.Now i started to go with beans it is really good for health…thanks for this information it gives me courage to used my crockpot.God bless
Beans are a GREAT food! I’m a huge fan of the books of Dr. Neal Barnard and he recommends beans with every single meal. I don’t usually eat beans for breakfast but I have them often for lunch and dinner. Good for us, cheap, tasty, high in fiber, loaded with vitamins & minerals – what’s not to like?
I’m a HUGE bean eater…and love tomatoes too…eat them like apples…just something I crave. Eat meat but not lots of it…perfer fish when I can. Will look up more recipes…thanks. I usually listen to what my body wants…don’t go on diets. It’s nice to see that I am making a few good choices.
Terra, I LOVE what you’re saying here. I agree wholeheartedly that listening to our bodies is the only wise way to eat. Tomatoes are great, aren’t they? We’re soul sisters. :-)
We grew up eating beans 3 to 4 times a week. They can be stew or in soups. I use smoked turkey for flavor . Lots of garlic,onions,cilantro and oregano to name a few. By the way, my mom just turn 100yrs in May.
Congrats to your wonderful mom! That’s an age to be proud of, for sure.n Love the garlic, cilantro and other spices in beans. There are countless tasty bean recipes that make it easy to like this delicious food.
im eating black eyed beans right now :) nice little article you got there. thatnks for the info.
Macheq: YEAH for you! :-)
can I survive on $4 per week eating beans only? If so, which kind? I am serious. Live on disability and received $16 per month SNAP Benefits (food stamps). My bills and cost of living do not allow for extra $ for food.
If there’s any food that can sustain life, it’s in the bean family. Beans have protein, fiber, minerals and vitamins. And they’re cheap. I bought an 8 ounce package of dried black eyed peas yesterday for $1.29 at the grocery store. Eight ounces of beans, when cooked, makes several meals. As for the kind of beans, they’re all excellent when cooked so it depends on price. I’ve never found a bean that I didn’t like. Which beans do you like?
get rid of a stye says
I eat bean with just about every meal. In fact I have 3 case sitting in my pantry at all times along with cases of other veggies. Finding new dishes to be made is a hobby for me, my collection is getting bigger and enjoy not just serving the regular can bean side dish.
I eat beans every day, too. I am a big fan of Dr. Neal Barnard and he recommends at least one cup of beans every day. Great advice.
good for you all the time. i enjoy making chilli using black beans, pinto beans, and red beans with onions and chilli powder, tomatoe sauce, good stuff
Yes, that IS great food! Yum. I love beans and its wonderful that they’re so good for us. You chili recipe sounds like mine – luv it, luv it! http://www.blissplan.com/recipes/vegetarian/best-vegetarian-chili-slow-cooker-chili/
I’m Cuban so if there’s no beans then it’s not a meal.
Olga, I couldn’t agree more. Great taste, super healthy, inexpensive, versatile … what’s not to like?
ar duri says
After the start of Rajmaa Beans I got some activeness in my day-to-day life. I started even Double Beans from yesterday. I honestly hope it will help me. Thanks
Beans are simply one of THE greatest foods in the world. There’s no way they won’t help you. :-) (Sydney Johnston)
NEED INFO REGARDING BENEFITS OF BEAN PEELS ….
Sorry, but none of us know what a bean peel is?
my only issue is i need to keep my protein consumption to a minimum because of my kidney disease. However, beans are a great source of protein.
Kidney disease can definitely be worsened with animal protein but beans don’t have that same effect. Beans are wonderful!
Yep…I probably eat a can of black beans and rice 4 to 5 times a week. Great source of protein.
Yum … black beans and rice are foods fit for a king. We can’t help but be healthier if we eat them.
Is it true that if true eat 28 g of fiber you can subtract 400 cals from a 2000 calorie diet /
Dr. Neal Barnard says that with high fiber foods – like beans – we can subtract about 1/3 of the calories. So if you eat 300 calories of beans, only ‘count’ 200 calories. Of course, that’s an estimate and not an exact measurement, but it’s great isn’t it?
YUM but what are some bean sandwiches that are great? or a warm bean dish with bread. GIVE me recipes
I put beans in Ezekiel torillas (no flour, just ground sprouts) frequently, along with such goodies as tomatoes, green onions, salsa, avocade/guacamole, etc. But there are a bazillion bean recipes on the Net so they’re not hard to find.
Are beans part of the reason Mexicans have such beautiful healthy shiny hair?
I don’t know but I wouldn’t be surprised. Beans are wonderful for all kinds of reasons and it’s logical that our hair benefits from improved health created by lots of beans in our diet.
Kevin Shughart says
No matter how healthy they may be, I’d still be careful about eating too many beans. They still have a nasty habit of giving you a load of extra gas.
Beans are ‘gassy’ only when we’re not used to them. If we eat this high protein, low fat powerhouse on a regular basis the gas ceases to be a problem. Another way to limit the gas is to eat slowly and chew thoroughly.
ait ben hadou says
i always enjoy eating beans all sorts except the one, i really want to try it
This is indeed a nice diet chart and very well described..
Its not that that this is the first diet chart I am seeing, I have seen many diet charts, and this one also is more or less the same, but what I liked the most is that you have described on each items or foods, on why it should or shouldn’t be taken, or what are its good and bad sites..
and this is the thing which I loved the most.
This isn’t really about a diet – at least, not much about weight loss. It’s more about drawing attention to a highly underrated food. I’m not sure why you mention a ‘chart’, though?
I did not know that beans have great benefits to our body. I do eat beans because I simply like eating them but I am not completely aware of the things it can bring to our bodies especially the nutrients that our bodies crave for. Thanks for sharing this!
Gerson Va says
Great. Beans must always be present in a good diet.
Robin Wyles says
i really like this article. And i love black eyed beans too
Nice to see the list of beans in your blog, surely these are the best things to stay fit and healthy.
They’re nutritional powerhouses for sure.
Emma Deangela says
Thankyou for the huge varieties of beans, and explaining the nutritional benefit of them.