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Bean Benefits

Health Benefits of Beans

Diabetes  Due mostly to the health-promoting effects of soluble fiber found in beans, peas, fruit, and oats, these foods have low glycemic indices despite their high carbohydrate content. High-fiber supplements, such guar gum, which is derived from beans, have improved glucose tolerance in some studies. A review of the research revealed that the extent to which moderate amounts of fiber help people with diabetes in the long term is still unknown, and the lack of many long-term studies has led some researchers to question the importance of fiber in improving diabetes. Nonetheless, most doctors advise people with diabetes to eat a diet high in fiber. Focus should be placed on beans, fruits, vegetables, seeds, oats, and whole-grain products.

Heart attack   A high-fiber diet, particularly one high in water-soluble fiber as in beans, is associated with decreased risk of both fatal and nonfatal heart attacks, probably because fiber is known to lower cholesterol. Doctors often recommend increasing intake of both soluble and insoluble fiber by eating plenty of beans, fruit, vegetables, oats, and whole grains.

High cholesterol   Soluble fiber from beans, oats, psyllium seed, and fruit pectin has lowered cholesterol levels in most trials. Doctors often recommend that people with elevated cholesterol eat more of these high-soluble-fiber foods.

High triglycerides (TG)   Diets high in fiber have reduced TG levels in several clinical trials, but have had no effect in other clinical trials. Water-soluble fibers, such as guar gum and other gums found in beans, may be particularly helpful in lowering triglycerides.

Parkinson’s disease
Separate from their vitamin E content, legumes have been associated with low risk of Parkinson’s disease. In other words, “high vitamin E intake” may be a marker for diets high in beans, and beans may protect against Parkinson’s disease for reasons as yet undiscovered but unrelated to their vitamin E content.

Pregnant women should consume 1,500 mg of calcium per day. Food sources of calcium include milk products, dark green leafy vegetables, tofu, sardines, peas, and beans.

Regular consumption of whole-grain foods is associated with a reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease. Diets high in fibers found in and are linked to a reduction of cholesterol levels.

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