Reasons to eat Beans and other Legumes

Nutrition, November 24, 2017

This fantastic summary was put together by Dr. Michelle McMacken, a plant based Dr. based in New York. Dr. McMacken is an internal medicine physician empowering people to lead healthy and compassionate lives through plant based nutrition. You can follow her on Instagram @veg_md

LONGEVITY: Beans & other legumes (lentils, peas, etc) are the most important dietary predictor of survival in people of different ethnicities. Among 785 older adults in several countries, each with a 20-gram increase in daily legumes resulted in a 7-8% lower risk of dying during the study period. No other food groups consistently predicted survival. Similarly, legumes are a dietary staple in the “Blue Zones,” areas of the world known for longevity.

HEART DISEASE: Eating legumes 4x/week or more, vs less than once a week, confers a 22% lower risk of coronary heart disease. Research also shows that legumes lower blood pressure and that just one serving of beans a day can lower LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) by 5%!

DIABETES: Legumes help prevent type 2 diabetes and they improve blood sugar control in people who already have diabetes.

WEIGHT CONTROL: Legume-based meals have been shown to be more satiating than animal-based meals, probably due to the combination of fiber, protein, and slowly digested carbohydrate. Regular legume eaters have healthier body weights than those who do not eat these foods regularly.

NUTRIENTS: Legumes are rich in protein, fiber, iron, antioxidants, and other essential nutrients. What about lectins? Well, most of these are destroyed by cooking, and those that remain may have important anticancer benefits anyway.

Plus, they’re delicious! 

What about gas/bloating? If you’re not used to eating legumes, start slow & try lentils, split peas, & smaller beans first. Your body will adjust gradually. Also try rinsing canned beans well, cooking thoroughly, sprouting beans before cooking, soaking beans longer or doing double soaks, adding a strip of kombu seaweed, & eating fermented legumes (eg tempeh).

References
Darmadi-Blackberry, Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2004
Bazzano, Arch Intern Med 2001
Ha, CMAJ 2014
Polak, Clin Diabetes 2015
Becerra-Tomás, Clin Nutr 2017
Sievenpiper, Diabetologia 2009
Kristensen, Food Nutr Res 2016