The Many Health Benefits of Beans by: Sarah for Off the Grid News
Left to my own devices, I would be a vegetarian. This wasn’t difficult for my husband and I when we lived in California. However, where we live now, it is not without its challenges. An island whose cuisine revolves around meat, for me oftentimes means substituting beans for the preferred sources of protein: pork or chicken. Prior to moving here, I had no clue there were so many beans in the world. I could name and cook maybe five or six of them. Today, I am thrilled to say, it’s a completely different story.
Beans don’t need to be something you think of as sloppy seconds to meat. Far more versatile than meat, it might surprise you how much you can dress up beans and how well they can complement any meal. As I have said in previous articles, open your mind and your taste buds will follow.
Health Benefits Of Beans 101
Beans are a type of legume, the large seeds of leguminous plants. There are dozens of varieties of beans in the world that grow naturally or through cultivation. People have been growing them for food since they first began farming, many a millennia ago. Today, with the exception of grains, people around the world get more of their calories from beans than they do from any other food.
Beans may not really be magic, but they can have seemingly magical effects on your health. Adding to their versatility and taste, beans are also one of the healthiest foods around; they are a low calorie, low sodium source of protein, fiber, antioxidants, and myriad other important nutrients. This means that a diet containing beans can promote everything from healthy weight loss to cancer, diabetes, and heart disease prevention, which continue to strike Americans at alarming rates.
A Dose of Dietary Fiber That Packs a Whopping Health Punch
Dietary fiber comes from plant foods, and is an important part of healthy eating. Beans are some of the best sources of dietary fiber in the food world, along with many vegetables, whole grains, some fruits, and other legumes.
Dietary fiber is divided into two groups consisting of fiber that is soluble in water and fiber that is not soluble. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance as it passes through the body. It also provides health benefits connected to cholesterol and blood sugar management. Insoluble fiber is the fiber that makes it easier for ingested matter to make its way through the digestive tract.
Fiber is often most closely associated with bowel regularity. It also serves other functions as well in maintaining our overall health. Besides regularity, fiber promotes the health and integrity of the bowels by preventing the development of hemorrhoids and diverticular disease. Fiber may also help to prevent other diseases of the colon. However, definitive research has not yet established an incontrovertible connection.