How to Cook Them for Optimal Nutrition
Co-authored by Susan Hartman
Dietary fiber is important as it reduces inflammation by aiding in the removal of wastes and toxins from the body. It has also been shown to help reduce LDL cholesterol levels (the “bad” cholesterol) and reduce the risk of heart disease.
We have all heard that the consumption of beans can promote regularity due to the high fiber content. But did you know that adding high fiber foods to your diet can also help you maintain a sense of satiety for a longer period of time? And this means that you experience less cravings and a decrease in food intake, making beans a great option for those on a weight loss or maintenance plan!
Black beans can also help maintain a healthy cardiovascular system by preventing plaque from clogging the arteries. Vitamin B6 and folate prevent the buildup of a compound known as homocysteine. Excessive amounts of homocysteine accumulated in the body can cause damage to blood vessels and lead to problems of the heart.
A 2002 study published in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reported that black beans had more antioxidant activity than many other beans. The study went on to say that findings indicated that the darker the seed coat of the bean, the higher the flavonoid content, meaning the higher the level of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity which can protect against degenerative and chronic diseases such as immune disorders, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and dementia.
Black beans are a low glycemic food, meaning that they are slowly absorbed into the bloodstream which keeps blood sugar levels stable. This does not only have the potential to prevent food cravings, but can also help to modulate mood. Foods low on the glycemic index have also been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, and may fight insulin resistance associated with diabetes.
Now, although we are talking about the many benefits linked to the consumption of black beans, we can’t ignore an issue that has some people eliminating black beans from their diet altogether. What am I talking about? Well, many people have banned beans from their diet as a way to avoid ingesting compounds found in raw legumes such as lectins and phytic acid.
Though both of these compounds are present in many commonly eaten plant foods, some food sources are more toxic than others. Such is the case with most legumes, especially kidney beans.
But don’t turn your back so quickly on these tiny dark morsels! There is really no need to banish legumes along with their amazing health benefits. As long as they are thoroughly cooked, legumes are perfectly safe to eat!
How to Safely Cook Beans and Legumes
Sarah Pope, Weston A. Price Chapter Leader and The Healthy Home Economist, discusses and demonstrates how traditional societies carefully prepare grain and legume based dishes for maximum digestibility and nutrition.