Not only do black beans ferry protein goodness, these little legumes also pack a load of other nutrients that are not that well known. Unfortunately, only a decreasing section of the American population is enjoying the health benefits of black beans. Consumption of black beans, and other legumes, continues to tumble as more people opt for fast-to-cook, “more-delicious” fast foods.
A Food Science and Human Nutrition study conducted by Michigan State University sufficiently indicates an “inverse relationship” between consumption of black and navy beans and colon cancer. There is more to black beans than first meets the eye.
In this article we examine the nutritional advantages of regularly including black beans in your diet.
- A Source of Good Protein and fat
The American Heart Association (AHA) cites black beans as a very good source of low fat and good protein. Compared to other sources of proteins such as meats, black beans supply a good 8 grams of protein and only 1 gram of fats. In fact, for every cup serving of black beans, you get a healthy supply of 213 calories, 14.47g protein and 0.7g fat. So you can eat more and worry less about your waistline.
However, seeing that black beans are a plant-based source of protein, you’ll need to supplement your plate with other protein sources to get all the essential amino acids you need for great health, according to the American Cancer Society.
- Act as antioxidants
Until recently, only brightly colored fruits and vegetables were considered to be great detox foods. This is due to their rich phytonutrients content that gives them their bright color. It is now clear that phytonutrients are responsible for the deep dark color on the surfaces of black beans.
Phytonutrients help flash out waste products and give vitality to body tissues.
Also, turtle beans (as they are also named), contain Vitamin C, a natural antioxidants. In fact, a single cup of black beans supplies your body with the full daily recommended intake amount of the vitamin.
A “clean” body means there are less free radicals roaming around cells, effectively putting out possibilities for development of cancer. The presence of resveratrol also helps prevent premature aging and cognitive function decline.
- Stimulate your immune system
Black beans (cooked) help improve your body’s defense system to ward off potentially risky infections and downtimes.
One cup (about 170g of black beans) packs 20% iron. Iron deficiency leads to anemia and body weakness since iron helps build hemoglobin, the blood component responsible for transporting oxygen to body tissues. They also consist of B vitamins, phosphorus and manganese which further protect the body against infection.
- Protect against cancers
Recent studies on the health benefits of black beans particularly point to colon cancer prevention. Thanks to their 64% foliate and 60% fiber and antioxidant properties, black beans harbor potential for multiple cancers prevention.
Foliate is the nutrient responsible for maintaining healthy DNA, sufficient amounts of which guard against adverse gene mutations – a major cause of cancer growth and development anywhere in the body.
Fiber, on the other hand, promotes healthy bowel movements in the lower gut region, stimulate proper water retention and absorption in the colon, thus preventing dehydration and stimulate optimal working of gut bacteria.
Scientists are currently considering the potency of the bean extract, IP6, for use as a cancer deterrent.
- Good for your heart
The high fiber content in black beans acts as a natural appetite suppressant to curb over-indulgence in food. This happens because the human body takes quite a bit to break down fiber, meaning you are likely to feel full faster while eating and thus less likely to pile up many calories eating more food. Also, the fiber in black beans is the soluble type, which recent studies attribute to preventing build-up and actually lowering levels of bad cholesterol in the body.
The less the calories you have to deal with, the better your chances of keeping excess weight and all its complications such as diabetes and high blood pressure, at bay; and the better your heart health.
The National Cancer Institute recommends a weekly serving of 3-4 cups of cooked black beans for good health. That translates to a daily recommended intake of half a cup, according to the 2005 Dietary Guides for Americans.
Fortunately, black beans can be accompanied with a variety of other healthy foods such as rice and spinach. A half cup of black beans a day will surely help keep the doctor away.