July 3 of every year celebrates naturally as National Eat Beans Day(Eat Beans Day). As with so many food holidays from the United States, unfortunately, relatively little seems to be known about its origins in the case of National Eat Your Beans.
Legumes – beans and lentils – have been consumed for over 10,000 years. They’re high in vegetable protein and fiber, and they’re also rich in micronutrients like iron and potassium. Because of their great variety of nutrients, legumes are counted among the protein-rich foods as well as vegetables.
Legumes are dried or already cooked in cans or jars. Cooked beans and lentils have the advantage of serving as an ingredient in quick recipes. Dried beans and lentils are inexpensive all-rounders in your pantry.
Eat Beans Day : Eating Beans and legumes has many beneficial effects on your body.
1. Legumes keep blood sugar levels low
Over 70% of the calories in beans and lentils come from carbohydrates. Most of it comes from strength. Much of the starch in beans is what is known as “resistant starch”. This means that the starch is not digested well and is therefore not broken down into simple sugars. As a result, our blood sugar does not rise as much and the insulin response is also not as strong. So beans and lentils have a low glycemic index .
For this reason, beans are very suitable for people with diabetes, insulin resistance, or hypoglycemia.
2. Beans and lentils improve gut health
The resistant starch not only has a positive effect on blood sugar. Because the resistant starch in beans and lentils is broken down in the colon by bacteria. This produces short-chain fatty acids.
Short-chain fatty acids are the preferred source of energy for cells in the rectum and are involved in appetite regulation and energy metabolism.
The special ability of short-chain fatty acids is to have a positive effect on the intestinal flora and to correct an unfavorable composition of the intestinal bacteria .
The short-chain fatty acids serve as “food” for the good intestinal bacteria. Their protective function consists, among other things, of preventing inflammation in the body and protecting the human organism from attack on the body’s own cells .
Insoluble fiber not only helps increase stool volume and thus prevent constipation, but also helps prevent digestive diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis.
3. Legumes lower the risk of heart disease
Studies have found that people who eat a lot of fiber have a reduced risk of heart disease compared to people who eat little fiber.
The positive effect of beans on heart health lies not only in the fiber, but in the relevant amounts of folate, magnesium and potassium that are contained in the beans.
Folate lowers homocysteine levels
Folate helps lower homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an amino acid that does not serve as a protein building block and is an intermediate product in the methionine metabolism. Even a slightly increased homocysteine level increases the risk of vascular damage by three to four times. (Homocysteine network)
Magnesium and potassium keep the blood vessels healthy
The good magnesium content in beans brings another plus for the cardiovascular system. With sufficient magnesium in the body, veins and arteries can relax, which reduces resistance in the vessels and improves blood flow and oxygen supply.
Potassium is another important mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function.
Beans are natural cholesterol-lowering agents
One cup of beans contains around 10 to 15 grams of fiber. This makes you one of the rich sources of fiber. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that combines with bile (which contains cholesterol) and carries it out of the body. That’s why beans lower cholesterol. (Georg Mateljan Foundation)
Consumption of beans lowers the risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease
Studies have shown that regular consumption of beans and lentils improves the lipid profile and thus lowers the risk of atherosclerosis and general cardiovascular diseases. A diet high in legumes can lower the two main risk factors for heart disease, triglycerides and cholesterol.
4. Beans and lentils have antioxidant properties
Copper and manganese – help for the antioxidant defense
Beans are a good source of manganese and copper, two minerals that are essential co-factors in superoxide dismutase. Superoxide dismutase removes free oxygen radicals that are formed in the mitochondria during energy production. This is a normal process in which the body itself destroys the dangerous radicals as long as both are in balance.
An imbalance between oxygen radicals and superoxide dismutase can damage all cellular and extracellular macromolecules and is known as oxidative stress.
The consequences of oxidative stress include lipid peroxidation, protein oxidation and DNA damage. All three processes are considered to be one of the causes of the aging process.
Secondary plant substances = natural antioxidants
Beans, lentils and peas contain various phytochemicals. Legumes contain phenolic compounds in particular. Phenolic compounds are considered natural antioxidants that can help protect against diseases such as cancer and various inflammation-driven diseases.
The content of phenolic compounds is higher in colored beans or peas. This means that the darker or more colored the bean or lentil, the more phytochemicals it contains. Kidney beans, black beans and beluga lentils have the edge in this regard.
For the full load of antioxidants, try the lentil soup with kale. Tastes delicious and is incredibly healthy.
5. Beans ensure a good satiety
The high fiber content in legumes increases satiety . Saturation is controlled by hormones and neural signals and is the individual feeling of being “full” after a meal.
The feeling of satiety is improved by the expansion of the stomach and a slower release to the intestines. Both are achieved through the gel-like substance that is formed from the soluble fiber.
Similar to fiber, protein also contributes to satiety. Protein is the most satiating macronutrient. And cooked legumes contain about 8 g of protein per 100 g.
Lose weight through prolonged satiety
The high feeling of satiety helps to consume fewer calories and thereby control body weight.
The one pot pasta with chickpeas shows that you can combine pulses with pasta and that it even becomes healthy in the end.
6. Legumes as a very good source of protein
Legumes are a good source of vegetable protein . Compared to cheese or nuts and seeds, for example, they are also a very low-fat source of protein .
Cooked beans and lentils contain an average of 8 grams of protein per 100 grams . Legumes contain plenty of the essential amino acids lysine and threonine, which are normally only found in small amounts in other vegetable protein sources. But they contain little methionine, tryptophan and cysteine.
Because these essential amino acids are not available in sufficient quantities, legumes are among the incomplete proteins. (Havemeier, 2017) In order to cover all amino acids and to increase the quality of the protein supply, different protein sources should always be combined with one another.
Vegans and vegetarians in particular should therefore regularly eat beans or lentils in order to absorb sufficient protein.
7. Legumes are high in iron – good for vegans and vegetarians
Legumes contain around 2 to 3 grams of iron per 100 grams. That’s more iron than there is in meat. However, this is the non-heme iron (also trivalent iron), which is more difficult to use by the body, in contrast to heme iron, which occurs exclusively in animal products. In addition, the availability is reduced by the complex formation with phytins, which occur in the beans and lentils.
This makes it more difficult for vegans and vegetarians to get enough iron . The availability of iron can, however, be improved by various measures.
Combination with vitamin C improves iron absorption from legumes
Better absorption and utilization of iron can be achieved by consuming foods rich in vitamin C at the same time.
To improve your iron supply , it is recommended to combine beans with, for example, paprika or fruit or to drink a glass of orange juice before eating.
Degradation of phytic acid through soaking
Phytic acid is dissolved in the soaking water by soaking dried beans and lentils. Pouring away the soaking water and using new water to cook it will increase the availability of iron and other minerals.
A healthy diet has a positive effect on you and your body. In order to stay healthy, it is therefore important to have a balanced diet to absorb all of the essential nutrients. In the menu item healthy eating you can find out more about foods that are particularly good for you.