Beans: A little goes a long way


The musical fruit. Beans are a very healthy type of food that is affordable and versatile. Different types are enjoyed by different cultures. Beans are classified as legumes and grow in pods that have beans inside. These pods come from flowers. Some of the most popular types of beans include black beans, garbanzo beans, pinto beans, red beans, black-eyed peas, soybeans, and kidney beans. There are a number of reasons why beans can be part of a healthy diet.

  1. Protein: Beans are high in amino acids. Soybeans are actually a complete source of protein, meaning they contain all 9 amino acids. Beans are a great source of protein for vegetarians and vegans.
  2. Antioxidants: Beans contain antioxidants which are the free radicals that help with processes in the body, help with physical aging, and can help reduce the risk of cancer and inflammation.
  3. Nutrients: Beans are full of folate which is very helpful for the fetus during pregnancy. Folate is important for everyone to have and not having enough of it can lead to fatigue, loss of appetite, weakness, heart palpitations, and irritability. Beans have fiber, zinc, magnesium, and iron.
  4. Heart health: Eating beans can help reduce the risk for stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular problems.
  5. Beans can help lower cholesterol.
  6. Diabetes and glucose metabolism: Beans can help stabilize blood glucose levels. This can help prevent diabetes. Because beans are high in fiber which means they can help lower blood glucose.
  7. Appetite control: Because beans are high in fiber, which means a person can feel fuller longer and avoid overeating.
  8. Liver health: Beans can preserve liver health and reduce the risk of fatty liver.

There are a couple down sides to eating beans. Eating too many, much like having too much of any food, can lead to gastrointestinal problems. These might include gas, diarrhea, blocked intestines. Beans also contain a lot of carbohydrates and depending on a person’s body type and metabolism, this may not be conducive to their waistline. For example, one cup of black beans has about 660 calories and 121 grams of carbohydrates. That might take almost an hour of running to burn off. When compared to a piece of chicken, the pros and cons speak for themselves when looking for a protein source. Moderation is always the principle. It can be hard not to get carried away when someone has a great recipe with beans. They can top a salad, fill a burrito, be in a soup, or just stand alone. About ¼ cup is one serving, meaning a little has to go a long way.

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Dr. Megan Johnson McCullough owns a fitness studio in Oceanside CA called Every BODY's Fit. She has a Doctorate in Health and Human Performance, M.A. in Physical Education & Health Science, and she's an NASM Master Trainer & Instructor. She's also a professional natural bodybuilder, fitness model, Wellness Coach, and AFAA Group Exercise Instructor. She has 6 books on Amazon too,.