White kidney beans or cannellini beans are a seed variety of Phaseolus vulgaris, the common bean plant. Originally cultivated in Argentina by Italian immigrants, this bean soon found it’s way to South America and across Europe. It is now widely produced in Asia, Europe, and North America.
This leguminous vegetable has an impressive nutritional profile, being a rich source of protein and fiber without added calories. If you need a little more convincing as to why you should be eating more of white kidney beans, take a look at the following reasons.
Reasons Why You Should Eat White Kidney Beans
1. Your Digestive System Will Function Better
Soluble fiber helps in removal of bile; insoluble fiber encourages bowel movement. White kidney beans supply you with both.
A cupful contains 10 gm of fiber. That is about 40 of the amount of fiber that you are recommended to have in a day (about 25 gm).1
2. Your Chances Of Losing Weight Will Increase
Cannellini beans are good for those trying to drop a few pounds. The fibers they carry help keep you full for longer. This is a major advantage when trying to control your food intake to lose weight.
These beans also contain “starch-blockers” that help lower the calories you obtain. They do this by slowing down starch digestion.2 Fewer calories mean an increased probability of creating a calorie deficit for weight loss. Moreover, these beans reduce the fat mass in your body, giving you a leaner look.
3. You Will Be Less Likely To Suffer A Stroke
Homocysteine, an amino acid, has been implicated in increased risk of heart disease. Folate, also called folic acid or vitamin B9, lowers the level of homocysteine in the blood.3
Because of its rich folate reserves, white kidneys beans protect your heart from the toxic effects of homocysteine. The most prominent effect is the reduced risk of stroke, the blockage of blood supply and oxygen to the brain. By ensuring your brain continues to get its oxygen supply, these beans help protect you from a heart attack.
4. Your Diabetes Will Come Under Control
Alpha-amylase is an enzyme involved in carbohydrate digestion in the body. White kidney beans contain a “starch-blocker” (alpha-amylase inhibitor) that inhibits this enzyme, slowing the digestion of carbohydrates and keeping blood sugar levels in check.4
The soluble fibers in white kidney beans also contribute toward this anti-diabetic effect.
5. You Will Fall Sick Less Often
Inflammation in one form or another is a symptom of most diseases. White kidney beans are loaded with anti-inflammatory phenolic compounds.5 This can reduce symptoms of a disease, or may even prevent it.
6. Your Memory And Cognition Will Improve
The vitamin B1 or thiamin that white kidney beans supply to your brain cells may make you smarter. Thiamin is extremely important in maintaining brain function, including memory.6
Consciously add white kidney beans to your diet to supply your body some brain food.
7. Your Risk Of Cancer Will Be Reduced
White kidney beans contain a group of compounds called lectins that prevent cancer cells from multiplying.7 They even cause cancerous cells to commit cell suicide (apoptosis) and destroy themselves.
While there is no doubt that cancer is way too complicated a disease to prevent by having a cupful of beans, we cannot deny the fact that diet is a key player in all diseases. It’s all the little changes that will help in the long run.
It’s Important To Cook White Kidney Beans Well Before Consumption
In 2006 in Japan, an episode of white kidney bean “poisoning” had occurred.8 As mentioned, like other bean varieties, white kidney beans carry lectins as well. When consumed in excess, lectins can damage the lining of your gastrointestinal tract.
Cooking and boiling can reduce the concentration of these compounds causing no qualms about eating these beans. However, in Japan that year, people were using a less-intensive heating method to toast powdered white kidney beans. This method failed to reduce the concentration of lectins to safe levels. A lot of people suffered intestinal problems as a result of this.
You need to soak white kidney beans before cooking them, preferably an overnight soak. Cook them for about 45 minutes to an hour. Do not eat them raw or improperly cooked. Add them to your salads or serve them as a side dish. Their earthy-nutty flavor and texture will give your taste buds a good tease.
|↑1||CANNELLINI BEANS WHITE KIDNEY BEANS. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|↑2||Celleno, Leonardo, Maria Vittoria Tolaini, Alessandra D’Amore, Nicholas V. Perricone, and Harry G. Preuss. “A dietary supplement containing standardized Phaseolus vulgaris extract influences body composition of overweight men and women.” International journal of medical sciences 4, no. 1 (2007): 45.|
|↑3||Folate. National Institutes Of Health.|
|↑4||Zhang, X. Q., M. Y. Yang, Y. Ma, J. Tian, and J. R. Song. “Isolation and activity of an alpha-amylase inhibitor from white kidney beans.” Yao xue xue bao= Acta pharmaceutica Sinica 42, no. 12 (2007): 1282-1287.|
|↑5||Monk, Jennifer M., Claire P. Zhang, Wenqing Wu, Leila Zarepoor, Jenifer T. Lu, Ronghua Liu, K. Peter Pauls et al. “White and dark kidney beans reduce colonic mucosal damage and inflammation in response to dextran sodium sulfate.” The Journal of nutritional biochemistry 26, no. 7 (2015): 752-760.|
|↑6||Butterworth, Roger F. “Thiamin deficiency and brain disorders.” Nutrition research reviews 16, no. 2 (2003): 277-284.|
|↑7||Chan, Yau Sang, Lixin Xia, and Tzi Bun Ng. “White kidney bean lectin exerts anti-proliferative and apoptotic effects on cancer cells.” International journal of biological macromolecules 85 (2016): 335-345.|
|↑8||Ogawa, Haruko, and Kimie Date. “The “White Kidney Bean Incident” in Japan.” Lectins: Methods and Protocols (2014): 39-45.|