Researchers studied the dietary habits of almost 10,000 people and found that those who ate the most legumes had the best lab values for heart health. Beans are “heart healthy” because they contain an abundance of soluble fiber, which can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Studies show that people who regularly eat foods high in magnesium have a significantly lower risk of diabetes. Magnesium may also help lower blood pressure and benefits bones by helping create new bone cells.
Beans boast the benefits of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber slows digestion, preventing swings in blood sugar and keeping you full longer. Insoluble fiber keeps you regular, which helps get rid of potential cancer-causing substances in the colon.
A recent pooling of study results linked eating beans to a 17% lower risk of colon and rectal cancers. In a study of kidney cancer, people who ate more beans had less risk of the disease. And in another study, only the women who ate the most beans, vegetables, fish, and olive oil had the fewest breast cancers.
Studies: Public Library of Science One 2013; 8(6):e67335; American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2013; 97:1036-43; BMC Cancer 21012; 12(1):113-24.
A recent analysis of data from 10 years of the Nurses’ Health Study found that moms who replaced just 5% of animal protein calories with vegetable protein calories (e.g., beans and nuts) slashed the risk of gestational diabetes in half.
Among more than 500 overall participants in eight studies, those who ate slightly less than one cup of beans a day lowered their blood pressure significantly. Researchers credit beans’ potassium, fiber and protein content.
Study: American Journal of Hypertension 2014 Jan; 27(1):56-64
A study in Brazil found that the more beans children ate, the less likely they were to have childhood obesity. The difference wasn’t how many calories they required or took in—it was the amount of fiber in the foods they ate.
The latest data from almost 89,000 premenopausal women followed for 20 years found that the source of protein matters—while red meat intake was linked to more breast cancer, legumes were not. The research suggests that eating a serving of beans each day in place of meat could lower breast cancer risk by 15% for all women, 19% for premenopausal women.
The environmental impact of producing 1 kg of edible protein from kidney beans requires 18x less land, 12x less fertilizer, 10x less water and pesticides and 9x less fuel, plus generated almost 6x less waste than almonds, eggs, chicken and beef.