beans – healthy superfoods – by Dr. Alberto Parra
Beans are the perfect companion to a healthy diet based on fruits and vegetables. Combining them with brown rice provides high-quality proteins, healthy carbs, and lots of fiber with no trace of saturated fat. They are inexpensive, versatile, and available in almost any store. There’s a wide variation of beans around the globe, but we will focus our attention on pinto beans and red beans, also called kidney beans, as they are the most common type, and hold the basic health benefits derived from consuming legumes.
First off, let’s start taking a look at the nutritional chart. If we compare, almost every variation of beans is an excellent source of folate, copper, phosphorus, and manganese. They also contain a high amount of fiber, and they are an important source of iron as well. However, pinto beans usually have more fiber than red beans, and they are also an excellent source of vitamin B1 and vitamin B6. Red beans have a fantastic nutritional profile indeed, but pinto beans exceed expectations, and it is rightfully called a nutrient-dense food.
On the other hand, red beans are superior from pinto beans in that they are one of the best sources of molybdenum, a trace mineral that contributes to the activation of certain enzymes. Molybdenum enhances the ability of the body to detoxify from sulfites, a type of preservative usually found in pre-prepared foods. Sometimes, these foods can cause a headache, tachycardia, and other problems, especially if your molybdenum levels are not enough to detoxify the load of sulfites, but you can quickly fix that by consuming red beans on a regular basis.
The impressive health benefits of beans
Beans are one of the best plant sources of dietary proteins, and they fulfill –and even exceed- our daily requirements for many different vitamins and proteins. However, the health benefits derived from beans is not confined to provide a nutrient-dense nutrition. As you will see next, beans can lower your cardiovascular risk, prevent constipation and other gastrointestinal issues, stabilize your blood sugar, contribute to your natural immunity, and keep your memory sharp regardless of your age.
- Beans contain a versatile type of fiber:
You usually eat more fiber to avoid constipation, and that’s one of the function beans fulfill. Red beans and pinto beans are excellent sources of dietary fiber that regulates the intestinal transit and prevents many disorders such as constipation, diverticulosis, and irritable bowel syndrome. However, they hold a type of fiber called soluble fiber, a particular kind that binds with cholesterol from bile and drives it out of your body. As such, the soluble fiber in beans does not only improve your gastrointestinal health but also reduces your blood lipids in the process.
- Beans help you prevent cardiovascular disease:
The dietary fiber from beans has also been found to prevent heart disease. Several studies confirm that high-fiber foods reduce your risk of heart attack, cerebrovascular disease, and many other cardiovascular complications. However, pinto beans and kidney beans are particularly rich in folate and magnesium, which further improves your cardiovascular health. Folate reduces your circulating levels of an amino acid called homocysteine, which is a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease when it is high. Likewise, magnesium is a fantastic blood pressure-lowering agent. Healthy concentrations of magnesium in the blood relaxes your arteries, reduces the resistance to blood flow, modulates your blood pressure, and facilitates the uptake of oxygen and nutrients in your body. Additionally, studies have shown that, even if you have suffered from a heart attack, magnesium will reduce the free radical injury to your heart tissue, which usually happens after myocardial infarction.
- Improves your normal blood values:
Keeping in line with the effects of magnesium in oxygenation, the iron found in beans is one of the best and healthier sources in nature. Different from meat, iron is a low-calorie and fat-free source of iron that’s fantastic for pregnant and lactating women. Iron is indispensable to transport oxygen in the blood and create hemoglobin molecules. What’s more, pinto beans and red beans contain an outstanding amount of copper, which is used to synthesize hemoglobin as well. So, in only one food you will have all your body needs to increase your hemoglobin levels.
- Boosts your natural antioxidants:
Beans are a reliable source of manganese as well, which is an crucial element to activate certain enzymes in the innate antioxidant system. We rely on manganese to activate one of the most important enzymes in the body, called superoxide dismutase, which scavenge free radicals in our cells and keep us from oxidative stress.
- Keeps your memory at its best:
Pinto beans are listed as one of the best sources of vitamin B1 in nature. As such, it keeps your brain energy and cognitive function because vitamin B1 participates in the formation of an essential neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Low levels of acetylcholine are found in Alzheimer’s disease and the physiologic cognitive decline that usually comes with age.
In short, beans are a small nutritious powerhouse with an impressive potential to reduce your cardiovascular risk, keep in line your blood values, and maintain your antioxidant profile and cognitive function. It is one of the most reliable sources of proteins among plant foods, and it is virtually fat-free.