Beans are a near perfect food. They belong to a family of plants called legumes. They are high in nutrients and fiber. They are capable of lowering cholesterol. They have other health benefits. They help prevent heart attacks. They are shown to cut the incidence of cancer if included in a diet. They are an effective tool in diet and weight-control. Beans can also produce gastric distress and flatulence. The question becomes, do the benefits of adding beans to a diet outweigh the downside? Beans are proven to be good for the human body.
It would appear that their benefits far outweigh their bad effects and should be included in the human diet. Beans can be a major source of soluble fiber in the diet. The fiber content of a cup of beans, eaten regularly, can lower the body’s cholesterol by 10 %, according to Patty Bazel Weil of the University of Kentucky. When they pass through the digestive tract they sweep up bile and carry it along. This bile is a source of cholesterol in the body. This benefit can be seen in as little as six weeks. The soluble fiber has the added benefit of keeping the body regular.
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A ten percent reduction in cholesterol in the body translates into a 40 % decrease in the risk of heart attack. For those people at risk for diabetes the soluble fiber in beans helps to create insulin receptor sites. These sites are like little connectors. The insulin can gather there to enter cells and not have to float freely. There are compounds found in beans that are known to keep normal cells from becoming cancerous. The protease inhibitors and other chemicals found in them have been shown to lower the risk of breast, colon and prostate cancers. Hipic women have half the number of incidents of breast cancer as Anglo women.
It is believed that the reason is the amount of beans in their diet. Beans contain potassium and magnesium that the body needs for the regulation of the heart and other systems. Harvard University studies show that people who included beans in what was called a ‘prudent’ diet, along with other legumes, whole grains and poultry had a 30 % lower risk of heart disease compared to the people who ate the normal western diet. Because complex carbohydrates are absorbed slowly, beans satisfy hunger for a longer period than simple carbohydrates. High fiber foods have a down side.
They can cause gastric disturbances and flatulence. Gas is made up mostly of hydrogen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen. These gases are odorless. Some people, for unknown reasons, produce methane gas. Foods that are high in sulfur content cause gas with a foul smell. These foods are garlic, onions, leeks, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Beans, however, also cause gas because they contain a sugar that the body cannot break down. Most sugars are broken down by the body and absorbed into the small intestine. The sugar in beans has a molecule that is too large to be absorbed that way.
For this reason the molecule makes it all the way to the large intestine intact. There the bacteria break it down. Gas is the by-product of that process. Beans are an important part of a healthy diet. They contain both nutrients and fiber necessary to keep the human body healthy. They have been shown to lower cholesterol. They help prevent heart attacks. They can lower the risk of heart disease. Beans are credited with reducing the risk of cancer. They are low in calories and high in complex carbohydrates. People seeking to diet for weight loss should eat them.
While it is true that they cause gas, there are methods to reduce the amounts produced. The benefits of beans are many. The gas, for most people, is a minor thing. Beans should be included in every diet. They are a valuable part of the world’s nutrition. Bibliography AmericanBean. org, n. d. Beans Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Retrieve 2-24-07 from: http://www. americanbean. org/HealthNutrition/Cardiovascular%20Release. htm Tresca, A. , 2006 About: Inflammatory Bowel Disease Retrieved 2-24-07 from: http://ibdcrohns. about. com/od/otherdigestivediseases/f/beans. htm
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