Some of nature’s best things come in tiny packages. And after having rightfully earned the title of “superfood,” beans are now in the spotlight for their remarkably high nutritious content.
Beans are great sources of protein and fiber, which help keep you full for longer, thus preventing you from stuffing yourself with useless empty calories that will do your health more harm than good. This will also give you enough fuel to run your day. Additionally, substituting your meat dishes with a meal packed with beans will help keep some of that unhealthy saturated fat out of your system.
Therefore, not only do beans make for great power foods, but are also extremely healthy dietary additions. The best part when it comes to beans is that you’re always left spoilt for choice! With so many different varieties to pick from, beans are extremely versatile, and you will never find yourself running out of ideas to cook them.
Here’s a quick guide to six of the most popular, healthy kinds of beans and how each one serves to protect your health.
6 Healthiest Beans To Include In Your Diet Today
1. Navy Beans: Protects Your Heart
With a whopping 10.5 grams of fiber per 100-gram serving, along with generous helpings of potassium, navy beans are the best beans to eat to keep cholesterol at bay. It has in fact been proven that a high-potassium diet when combined with a low sodium intake, helped people lower their blood pressure much more than by just limiting salt.1
2. Garbanzo Beans: Fights Off Diabetes
If sugar is your worst dietary enemy, allow garbanzo beans to help you out. Garbanzos, also known as chickpeas, contain high amounts of fiber, which help keep your blood sugar stable, thus lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes. Whether you’re eating them whole, or simply using them as a garnish for your salads and soups, garbanzos make an incredibly delicious addition to your meals.
3. Lentils: Fights Cancer
You can always turn to lentils to help you win against cancer. These beans are rich in antioxidants, namely flavonoids that fight off cancer-causing free radicals. There is evidence that eating lentils can help lower the risk of developing breast cancer in women.2 Other studies show that lentils may protect against colon and prostate cancers as well.3 4
4. Red Kidney Beans: Slows Down Aging
Red kidney beans are a treasure house of antioxidants and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
As you age, your skin’s outer layer becomes thin and almost papery. Omega-3 fatty acids help the cells of your skin to hold onto water – thus leading to softer, more supple skin. Furthermore, this heart-healthy variety of fatty acids also has anti-inflammatory properties and helps reduce the damage caused to your skin by the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.
Additionally, antioxidants help bring down oxidative damage by fighting off free radicals without harming the other cells. It is, therefore, no wonder, that the two compounds together make a great team that helps maintain the health of your skin and slow down the overall aging process.
5. Black Beans: Boosts Your Brain Power
Not only do black beans make everything taste better, they also make you sharper! These beans are a rich source of anthocyanins, magnesium, and folate that have been shown to improve brain function significantly. Research claims that magnesium is effective in protecting cognitive function and reversing some of the brain-damaging effects of Alzheimer’s disease for mice.5
6. Soybeans: Builds Great Muscles
Although technically a legume, soybeans are one of the very rare foods that contain all nine essential amino acids that your body is unable to produce on its own. This means they are a source of complete protein. Thus, for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, soybeans make extremely healthy muscle-building meat substitutes.
Just make sure to go for the organic variety when shopping for soybeans. You don’t want to consume genetically engineered soy, a food that hasn’t yet been tested for its long term effects on human health!
|↑1||Mahtani, Kamal R. “Simple advice to reduce salt intake.” Br J Gen Pract 59, no. 567 (2009): 786-787.|
|↑2||Adebamowo, Clement A., Eunyoung Cho, Laura Sampson, Martijn B. Katan, Donna Spiegelman, Walter C. Willett, and Michelle D. Holmes. “Dietary flavonols and flavonol‐rich foods intake and the risk of breast cancer.” International Journal of Cancer 114, no. 4 (2005): 628-633.|
|↑3||Busambwa, K., R. Sunkara, N. Diby, R. Offei-Okyne, J. Boateng, and M. Verghese. “Cytotoxic and Apoptotic Effects of Sprouted and Non-sprouted Lentil, Green and Yellow Split-peas.” International Journal of Cancer Research 12, no. 1 (2016): 51-60.|
|↑4||Mills, Paul K., W. Lawrence Beeson, Roland L. Phillips, and Gary E. Fraser. “Cohort study of diet, lifestyle, and prostate cancer in Adventist men.” Cancer 64, no. 3 (1989): 598-604.|
|↑5||Xu, Zhi-Peng, Li Li, Jian Bao, Zhi-Hao Wang, Juan Zeng, En-Jie Liu, Xiao-Guang Li et al. “Magnesium protects cognitive functions and synaptic plasticity in streptozotocin-induced sporadic Alzheimer’s model.” PloS one 9, no. 9 (2014): e108645.|