The more research I’ve done on this hidden gem of a food [beans], the more I’ve discovered all that they do for not only heart health, but our bodies as a whole.
That’s right, the good ol’ bean song rings true, people! Beans are an understated dietary necessity that I have particularly increased my consumption of since switching to a vegan lifestyle. But I must say, I wish I had started my bean obsession earlier, even before the vegan takeover. The more research I’ve done on this hidden gem of a food, the more I’ve discovered all that they do for not only heart health, but our bodies as a whole.
A serving of beans, about ¾ cup, can help to:
-Lower bad LDL cholesterol levels
-Boost good HDL cholesterol levels
-Improve blood glucose levels which assists in maintaining a healthy weight
-Reduce blood pressure
-Decrease triglyceride levels
All of which promote heart health and decrease the risk of heart disease!
Now, heart health aside, what they do for our bodies overall is just as remarkable.
-Beans are packed with protein, which is perfect for vegetarians and vegans like myself because just ½ cup of beans contains 7 grams of protein, the same amount as 1 ounce of meat, fish or chicken. Even if you are a meat eater, sometimes beans are an easier, cheaper alternative!
-Reduce the risk of chronic diseases and cancers due to their high fiber and antioxidant content
-Prevent constipation and promote regularity
-Digest slowly so they keep you fuller, longer without having to eat extra calories
-Contain a plethora of vitamins and minerals like copper, folate, iron, magnesium, and zinc… to name a few!
Now can you see why my love for beans is real?
But I must add, just like the first part of the song rings true, so does the second part. What I mean by that is, because of their high fiber content, beans do have a tendency to make you gassy, bloated and uncomfortable. Even though it’s a totally normal bodily function, I can see how it could make some people want to stay away from beans, and I can relate.
As I said before, I wasn’t a big bean eater until I went vegan. Knowing I needed a source of protein, I went straight to beans, eating them with almost every meal. Big mistake! Not only was I bloated and gassy like never before, I was also confused. Thankful for the Internet, I discovered the key was to start incorporating beans slowly and steadily into my diet to let my body adjust to the influx of fiber I was getting, and it worked! Start by adding a ½- ¾ cup to your salad or a homemade soup a few times a week and work your way from there. Just make sure to listen to your body…it will tell you what to do!
So now that you know how very good beans are for you…. (Not to mention inexpensive, easily accessible, versatile and delicious!), what are some ways you can start incorporating beans into your diet?