Quick intro: This is one in a series of Longevity Secrets – List of food to include to increase longevity.
Starting with the first healthy food of longevity – its beans.
The reason to include beans in the longevity list is the fact that major of healthiest people diet comprises of beans, vegetables and fruits. As their primary diet include these foods, it should mean a lot to their health so it will to our health.
Beans play a vital role in nourishing and protecting the longest living people in the Blue Zone.
These beans can be a better addition to your family’s diet due to their nutrient density. The more you and your family eat these nutrient loaded beans, the better nourishment everyone receives, thus cutting the risk of common health problem.
It was never easy to adopt things that other healthiest people followed. With all the access to research and information, it shouldn’t be hard to make a good decision.
Beans can be the major part of your diet, but before adding those beans, let us explore the reason to eat. To make a healthy decision, we often look over the reason or benefits and its a must in these diet oriented market.
1. They Are Abundant in Nutrients
The nutritional value of beans should be enough to convince you to include them in your diet. They are rich in many essential vitamins and mineral. All beans are the good source of protein, an excellent source of fiber, fat-free, cholesterol free and sodium free.
1/2 cups serving of cooked beans, percent are Daily Value (DV). (1)
- Protein – 6 to 8 grams
- Dietary fiber – 6 to 10 grams
- Calcium – 2 to 6 percent
- Copper – 8 to15 percent
- Iron – 11 percent
- Folate – 23 to 45 percent
- Manganese – 19 to 26 percent
- Magnesium – 10 to 15 percent
- Selenium – 8 percent
- Zinc – 6 to 8 percent
Approximately, a 1/2 cup of cooked or canned beans contains on average – 115 calories, 8 grams of protein, 21 grams of carbohydrate, and 7 grams of fiber.
They also provide nutrients that are found in seafood, meats, poultry and vegetables.
- Seafood, meats, poultry – Protein, zinc and iron
- Vegetables – Potassium and folate
Another most important reason to include beans in the diet is their Low Glycemic Index, thus it’s slowly digested, absorbed and metabolised and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and, therefore usually, insulin levels
Often you might have heard that eating beans can increase the carb intake, and increased carb intake is associated with weight gain and other health problem.
If you have such concern then be assured that you won’t be able to overeat beans.
While the beans contain complex carb combined with plant protein and fiber, that make you full in less serving and slow down the digestion for longer supply energy thus cutting the need to eat frequently.
Wrap up: Beans are loaded with nutrients but fewer in calories.
2. Lean Protein Source
Whenever you are planning to add more protein to the diet, the first option we think is the animal source, but they come with some unwanted nutrients
If you want to add meat, egg, or other animal protein source, you can try but they aren’t only the source of protein.
Try to incorporate beans and legumes in your diet. They’re a good source of protein, no cholesterol and are fat-free.
Major people overeat meat due to their liking, or due to diet recommendation, it can increase the intake of saturated fat. Excess intake of these saturated fat has linked to increase the LDL “bad” cholesterol thus the risk of heart disease.
When you compare meat and beans, beans can be the primary source of protein intake while you can still enjoy meat with them.
About 1/2 cup of beans provides 7 grams of protein, the amount in 1 ounce of chicken, meat or fish.
Beans are a good companion to eat with whole-grain. As there are many grains who don’t have a complete amino acid profile, but the combination of whole-grains and bean will provide high protein as well as a complete group of essential amino acid.
Wrap up: With high protein, beans contain no cholesterol or saturated fat, making a better alternative for the protein source.
3. High Fiber Source
Fiber is an important nutrient required for better health.
Health problem is not due to the presence of unhealthy nutrient instead it’s due to lack of healthy nutrients.
Among those healthy nutrients, fiber is missing or not present in abundance. People are eating fiber less than the recommended intake thus increasing the risk of health problem.
Beans are high in fiber, both soluble and insoluble, required for optimum health.
Consumption of fiber lowers total and LDL cholesterol level, decrease the risk of developing coronary heart disease, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, stroke, obesity, diabetes, enhance immune function, and certain gastrointestinal diseases. (2, 3)
Instead of its importance, many aren’t able to reach their required fiber intake. If you aren’t able to increase the fiber intake then you can try to incorporate beans in your diet. 1/2 cup of bean can help to reach nearly 40 percent of daily fiber intake.
Wrap up: Beans are loaded with health-boosting fiber. Increasing fiber intake can significantly cut the risk of many health problems thus improving the quality of life and longevity.
4. High Antioxidants
Beans are a good source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. The color of beans correlates with the total phenolic content of beans. The dark-colored beans (red, brown, black) possess higher antioxidant activity than the white colored beans. (4)
The color of beans coat depends on the presence of polyphenols including anthocyanins, flavonols glucosides, and condensed tannins.
Dark-colored beans have the highest anthocyanins content. (5)
The red, pink black color is due anthocyanins. While the light yellow or pink spots are based on tannins.
Wrap up: With other nutrients, beans also contain dense polyphenols which provide it antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.
5. Keep Heart Healthy
A healthy heart is responsible for increased longevity.
Protection from heart disease is important as it is the leading cause of death, and nearly one-third death worldwide. (6)
With the increased rate of heart disease, the burden of medication increases with the degradation in the quality of life and longevity.
Yet, healthy food intake is the best solution to stay protected from heart diseases as well as recover from current heart disease.
Among those foods, beans are found potential to protect from heart disease
Beans contain heart health promoting nutrients – fiber and potassium.
While it doesn’t contain nutrients that harm heart health which some food contains – saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium.
With high heart health promoting nutrient and no nutrients to harm, beans proves the best addition to improve heart health and improve longevity. The longest living people diet mostly comprises of beans and vegetables, so it can prove the point.
Blood Pressure: Healthy blood pressure cuts the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. A study found that diet lower in sodium can reduce blood pressure thus supporting a healthy heart.
Beans are very low in sodium while they are high in potassium which is required for a healthy heartbeat. Potassium can help to cut systolic blood pressure by 10 points in people with high blood pressure. (7, 8, 9)
Legume consumption, 4 times or more per week compared with less than once a week was associated with a 22% lower risk of CHD and an 11% lower risk of CVD. (10)
Greater consumption of whole-grain, legumes, fish, and poultry have 30% lower risk of heart disease compared with people who ate the western diet that include red meat, refined grains, sweets, French fries, and high fat desserts. (11)
Beans are the source of phenolic compounds and antioxidants providing anti-inflammatory property.
Increased inflammation in arteries is responsible for increased damage to arteries and LDL cholesterol. Damage to arteries is responsible for hardening of arteries and damage to LDL cholesterol is responsible for plaque buildup, thus blocking the blood flow towards the heart. (14, 15)
Consumption of beans have a protective effect as it:
- Cuts the sodium intake
- Contain dense heart-friendly potassium
- Soluble fiber responsible for lower LDL cholesterol
- Anti-inflammatory prevent damage to arteries and LDL cholesterol
Wrap up: With lots of benefits to heart health, daily consumption of beans can cut the risk of heart disease thus lowering the mortality rate. It also has a positive impact on people with heart diseases, as changing to a healthy diet provides nutrients. Consumption of beans for both can prove beneficial in terms of healthier and longer life.
The people living in the Blue Zone are dependent on beans and according to the record, they are found to have a lower risk of cancer.
The protection from cancer is often credited to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. Several studies have found that beans antioxidant and anti-inflammatory property can protect from several types of cancer like prostate, breast, and colorectal cancer. (16)
On analysis of the antioxidants content of beans, red beans come first, followed by red kidney beans and pinto beans in second and third place, respectively.
Wrap up: With high antioxidant content, beans possess high anti-inflammatory property thus acting as a protective shield against cancer.
6. Protects From Type 2 Diabetes
Diabetes which is now common among children was once known to be common at the 50s. Diabetes, specifically the Type 2 Diabetes is preventable with a healthy diet.
As said the diet of people living in Blue Zone comprises of low glycemic food which is responsible for the lowest risk of type 2 diabetes.
Let’s have a look how beans protect them from type 2 diabetes and how it can protect you…
Beans are a rich source of complex carbohydrate, fiber and protein which gives them low glycemic index.
The low glycemic index makes it an ideal food for blood sugar and insulin management. The rise of diabetes is due to high glycemic index food or say quick digesting foods.
Beans contain a high amount of fiber, protein and complex carbohydrate, which is responsible for the slow breakdown of food. With a slow breakdown of food, there is a gradual increase in blood sugar compared to high glycemic food. When there is a gradual release of sugar there won’t be the need for insulin to store excess sugar as fat.
With high blood sugar for an extended period, body force pancreases to secrete insulin. However with a continuous secretion of a high level of insulin can leads to insulin resistance and exhaustion of pancreas, which eventually leads to Type 2 Diabetes.
Two studies found that consumption of High glycemic index foods in Chinese women was responsible for increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes while eating more cereal fiber was associated with reduced risk of Type 2 Diabetes. (21)
In studies, it has been found that the consumption of beans significantly lowered fasting blood glucose and insulin levels.
Combination of low glycemic foods like beans and legumes with high glycemic food like rice can lower the Glycemic index of the meal. (22)
Wrap up: Consumption of food with the low glycemic index can help to manage blood sugar and insulin which proves beneficial against Type 2 Diabetes.
7. Better Digestion
The core of health – a healthy digestive system
Better digestion of nutrients will promote healthy absorption of nutrients thus allowing to absorb maximum nutrients from each meal you eat.
Beans are the rich source of digestive friendly nutrients – fiber. It contains both soluble and insoluble fiber responsible for better digestion and detoxification. They aren’t digested but can improve digestive health by improving the movement of food and thus responsible for healthy regularity. (23)
Soluble fiber which dissolves in water can lower blood cholesterol, lower blood glucose, are probiotic, to name few.
Insoluble fiber isn’t soluble in water but they help to move food in the digestive system, promoting regularity.
The gut bacteria feeding on soluble add more benefits to the list.
Wrap up: With an abundant source of fiber, beans prove a good addition for complete digestive system health.
8. Weight Loss and Weight Management
Everyone wants to stay lean and in the best shape. The craze of diet has surged in the past few decades with an aim to lose weight quickly, even it compromise health.
There is also a healthy way to achieve your goal without making any compromise, add beans to diet.
Beans can prove beneficial in weight loss and weight management depending on many criteria.
Often people look to cut their calorie intake to lose weight. During the process to lower calorie intake, they cut down their food intake or even skip their meal.
Skipping the meal or cutting calories than required provide short-term benefits, a trade for long-term health risk.
When you eat beans there is no chance that you can overeat them due to high fiber and protein content.
Protein and fiber are satiety nutrients which make you feel full in fewer servings. While the complex carbohydrate along with protein and fiber will supply enough calorie.
Long Satiety prevents Craving:
The second benefits — slow digestion due to complex carbohydrate, high protein and fiber. The slow breakdown of food supplies energy for an extended period and you won’t feel frequent hunger pangs. It will cut the food intake and craving for calorie-loaded food.
When you start with nutrient-loaded food there won’t be any energy crash, and you will make a healthy food choice.
The food that helps to lose weight will help to manage weight once lost.
Wrap up: With high protein and fiber, beans improve satiety and prevent excess calorie intake during and after the meal.
There is numerous way food work to improve our health, but it should be whole food provided by nature, with no to least processing.
The benefits of beans make it highly recommended food to add to your family meal.
Other reasons to eat Beans:
Need more reasons to add…
They are Gluten free
Gluten is a type of protein found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley. If you looking for gluten-free food due to celiac disease or gluten sensitivity then beans will be a healthier option.
Good for Children
With the increased rate of obesity among children, there are many concerns related to health. With increased body weight, the risk of Type 2 Diabetes also rises in children. It is found that children don’t receive enough fiber from their diet.
Adding beans to children’s diet will provide healthy fiber and protein also known as satiety nutrient.
With better satiety, the intake of calorie will lower and they won’t even crave for unhealthy food thus bringing down the obesity rate and potential health risk.
They are budget friendly
If you are looking to eat the healthiest then you can consider beans. Beans are budget-friendly than other food like meat, poultry, fish, or some of the superfoods like chia seeds, quinoa, to name few.
They are a good source of protein, fiber and other nutrients making a better alternative to add against high-cost food. While you can include other food but adding more serving can be done in the minimum budget.
With lots of nutrients and being budget-friendly, they can cover a major part of diet including vegetables and fruit. Often protein source is bit costly but beans are low in cost but contain a good amount of protein.
If you are planning to make changes in your diet for better health and longevity, prefer to add beans in most of your meal. When you start to add it in every meal, you will receive fiber and protein in each meal which is responsible for better satiety throughout the day.
Decreased hunger pangs, lower craving, balanced energy supply, lower blood sugar, high anti-inflammatory activity, all prove beneficial for a healthier and longer life.
You can include every type of beans and legumes in your diet. It can be black beans, black-eyed beans, chickpeas, lava beans, soybean (tofu), kidney beans, lentils and other beans available. If you are incorporating beans then consider varieties rather than a just single bean.
To improve flavor you can try cooking with tomato, herbs & spices, onions, or add lemon juice, chili sauce, or wine. There are many styles of cooking beans, choose the best recipes you can enjoy.
They can be added to main dishes, side dishes, salads, pasta, soup, dips & spreads, and baked goods. With versatility in nutrients and preparation, there is no reason to skip beans.