5 Reasons Experts Say You Should Eat Beans Every Day
Diabetes Risk Reduction
According to the best epidemiological research available, individuals consuming beans 2-3 times per week reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 40%. That is without weight loss or exercise!
Blood Sugar Control
“Results from acute feeding trials suggest that postprandial blood glucose response is significantly attenuated by a single pulse serving of between three-quarters and 1 cup. At lower doses, pulses attenuate postprandial blood glucose response more than similar amounts of starchy foods. Long-term pulse consumption of 5 cups per week appears to result consistently in improvements in glycemic control.” Ramdath 2016
In one 2015 study, a group of patients with type 2 diabetes were asked to either consume a therapeutic lifestyle diet or the same therapeutic lifestyle diet but replace 2 servings of red meat with legumes, 3 days per week. The group who ate more beans had significantly lower fasting blood sugar, fasting insulin, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.
These results indicates that in just a short period of 8 weeks, eating more beans and less meat can improve the majority of diabetes and cardiometabolic risk factors including high blood sugar. This makes a lot of sense. Beans contain both resistant starch and fiber, which are carbohydrates that make you feel full longer and slow the release of carbs from you meal into the bloodstream. In other words, they have a low glycemic index.
Less Hunger for a Whole Day
Studies have been done showing that eating beans at one meal lead to a longer period of satiety after a meal and can even lead to lower caloric intake at the next meal or 2! This is due in part to the high fiber content of beans which allows the stomach to empty more slowly, keeping a person from feeling hungry too soon.
The “Lentil Effect,” also known as the “Second Meal Effect” was discovered when researches dug deeper to find out why people ate less for 10-18 hours after a meal containing beans. What they found is that when the bean fiber makes it to the end of the digestive tract, the colon, the healthy bacteria that live there and feast on the fiber release butyrate. Butyrate is a short chain fatty acid that gives your stomach a signal of being not empty and makes you feel not hungry! There may be additional effects on the hunger centers of the brain too.
Healthy Gut Bacteria
Unfortunately, it seems we have an epidemic of imbalanced or unhealthy gut bacteria as a result of widespread and frequent antibiotic use and a low fiber diet.
It is normal, and interestingly enough, quite healthy to have bacteria living in your lower intestines. They make vitamin K, a bit of vitamin B12, and are proving to have varied and diverse health effects on things ranging from obesity to mental health. The balance of bacteria in the gut can affect body weight, depression, immune function and possibly cancer development.
There are 2 major factors that can lead to a healthy gut Microbiome. One is introducing healthy bacteria – also known as probiotics – which we get from foods and our environment. The other is making sure to provide a healthy food source. The bacteria feed upon fiber and certain starches – also known as prebiotics. Beans are an ideal source of prebiotics.
Non-Cancer Causing Protein
It is pretty well established that consumption of animal – derived protein, i.e. meat and dairy, leads to increased levels of IGF-1, a hormone that promote cancer growth. Consuming plant-derived protein as part of the whole food does not lead to increased IGF-1 levels.
With all of these compelling reasons to eat beans or legumes each day, why not make sure to include them in your daily diet? If you are worried about flatulence, start by eating just a small amount of beans or lentils each day. Add a tablespoon of rinsed canned beans to your salad each day. Have some hummus (made of garbanzo beans) on raw veggies. Add a few white beans to your morning smoothie…you won’t taste them, but you will still benefit from the natural fiber and protein.
Here is a simple, yet delicious recipe to help you get more beans in your diet.
Vegetarian Quinoa Chili
This hearty chili is made with beans, vegetables, and quinoa. Meat lovers and vegetarians will love this chili!
•1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
•1 cup water
•1 tablespoon broth or water
•1 small onion, chopped
•3 cloves garlic, minced
•1 jalapeno pepper, diced
•1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
•2 celery stalks, chopped
•1 green bell pepper, chopped
•1 red bell pepper, chopped
•1 medium zucchini, chopped
•2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
•1 (15 ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
•3 (15 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
•1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
•2-3 tablespoons chili powder, depending on your taste (we used 3)
•1 tablespoon ground cumin
•Salt and black pepper, to taste
•Optional toppings: green onions, avocado slices, cheese, sour cream, Greek yogurt, chips, crackers, etc.
1. In a medium sauce pan, combine the quinoa and water. Cook over medium heat until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
2. Heat a large pot, add the tablespoon of broth and onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, jalapeño, carrot, celery, peppers, and zucchini. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add a bit of water or broth as needed to prevent sticking, but allow caramelization.
3. Add the black beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Stir in the cooked quinoa. Season with chili powder, cumin, salt, and black pepper. Simmer chili on low for about 30 minutes. Serve warm.
Note-garnish the chili with green onions, avocado slices, cheese, sour cream/Greek yogurt, chips, crackers, if desired. This chili freezes well.
Villegas, R. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Jan;87(1):162-7.
Hosseinpour-Niazi S, Eur J Clin Nutr. 2015 May;69(5):592-7. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2014.228. Epub 2014 Oct 29.