The Top 5 Bountiful Health Benefits Of Beans (+ 8 Nutritious Recipes)

Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart, the more you eat, the more you… Most of us learnt at an early age that beans were heart-healthy foods. Unlike a lot of other health myths we hear during childhood, this is not an old wives’ tale, and they are, in fact, one of the most beneficial foods you can eat to keep your heart smiling. But they actually have a number of other health benefits as well. Beans are cheap and hassle-free to cook with, and on top of that, they are one of the most nutrient-dense foods on earth, providing minerals, fiber, antioxidants and plant-based protein with very little fat…

Check out these health benefits of beans, from improving heart health to aiding weight loss and more...

A Brief History Of Beans

A lot of people associate beans with cowboys in the Wild West, but rarely consider them as anything special. But, the truth is, beans are extremely special! They can count as both a vegetable source and protein source all-in-one, and they contain at least a little bit of just about every nutrient the body needs to function. They can cause digestive problems with some people, but this can mostly be avoided when cooked and prepared correctly and not eaten in excess. Add to that the fact that beans are extremely cheap compared to most nutritious whole foods, and you have the perfect kitchen staple.

Beans are a type of legume, native to Central and South America – grown there for thousands of years. They are seeds from Phaseolus genus plants, and popular types include black, kidney, navy, fava and pinto. Beans were among the first cultivated crops when hunter-gatherers and nomadic people started tilling the earth and developing agricultural systems. There is evidence suggesting people in Mexico and Peru cultivated bean crops as early as 7000 BC, with the use of lentils having been traced back to 6750 BC in parts of the present-day Middle East. Fava beans, lentils and chickpeas have been found in 4,000-year-old Egyptian tombs, at the same time that soybeans were being grown in parts of present-day Asia.

Beans for health

Nutritional Information

Beans differ nutritionally, depending on type and preparation method. However, most have similar nutrients, like fiber, protein and vitamins. Here is the nutritional profile of five different bean types as an introduction.

Lima Beans (Per 100g)

Calories – 115

Fat – 0g

Carbohydrate – 21g

Fiber – 7g (28%)

Protein – 8g

Iron – 13%

Pinto Beans (Per 100g)

Calories – 143

Fat – 1g

Carbohydrate – 26g

Fiber – 9g (36%)

Protein – 9g

Iron – 12%

Broad Beans (Per 100g)

Calories – 110

Fat – 0g

Carbohydrate – 20g

Fiber – 5g (22%)

Protein – 8g

Iron – 8%

Health benefits of legumes

Black Beans (Per 100g)

Calories – 116

Fat – 1g

Carbohydrate – 21g

Fiber – 6g (26%)

Protein – 8g

Iron – 14%

Kidney Beans (Per 100g)

Calories – 29

Fat – 0g

Carbohydrate – 4g

Fiber – 0%

Protein – 4g

Iron – 5%

Vitamin C – 65%

Health Benefits Of Beans

Beans of all different types come with a significant number of health benefits, from improving heart function and minimizing the risk of heart disease to aiding with weight loss and lowering cholesterol. Here are five fantastic health benefits of beans…

1. Beans Improve Heart Health

People who eat more legumes have a lower risk of developing heart disease, because of their LDL cholesterol, blood pressure and inflammation-lowering qualities. The phytochemicals found in beans are believed to be partially to thank for this, because they can help protect against these harmful health problems.

Beans for heart health

A review of 26 studies found that LDL cholesterol could be significantly lowered through a diet rich in beans and other legumes, which reduces the risk of heart disease. Beans have also been found to potentially lower blood pressure, improve HDL (good) cholesterol levels, and reduce inflammation.


2. Beans May Lower Cholesterol

The soluble fiber found in beans helps control blood cholesterol levels. According to research, around 1 cup of navy beans, which provides about 10 grams of soluble fiber, reduces LDL (bad) cholesterol by around 10 per cent. Soluble fiber forms a gel in water, which helps bind acids and cholesterol in the intestinal tract. This prevents them from re-absorbing into the body, and may be the reason it helps lower cholesterol levels and decreases the risk of heart disease.

Bean nutrition

The saponins in black beans potentially help lower cholesterol levels by reducing its absorption into the body. Similarly, phytosterols, the plant form of cholesterol, found in beans, may help lower LDL cholesterol levels by binding to the sites on the cells in the small intestine, where LDL cholesterol would usually bind in order to be absorbed. This allows the plant sterols to block absorption of LDL cholesterol from other food, or cholesterol produced by the liver.

3. Beans Can Help With Weight Loss

Beans may have a reputation of making you feel bloated, heavy and full, but they can actually be a fantastic addition to a weight loss diet or healthy lifestyle. A relatively small serving of beans makes you feel full quickly, and keeps you fuller for longer than many other popular foods, because of their high fiber content. This fills the stomach and helps slow down the rise in blood sugar, minimizing the risk of a sugar crash or cravings later in the day. On top of that, the nutritious food staple gives you a steady supply of energy for several hours.

Bean salad

As well as being high in soluble fiber, beans are also high in protein, while being low in calories. Research also found bean consumption to be linked to improved nutrition, reduced systolic blood pressure, lower body weight and less belly fat in adults. According to the study, bean consumers had higher intakes of dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron and copper than non-consumers of beans, as well as lower body weight, a smaller waist size, and a reduced risk of increasing waist size and obesity.

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