Legumes are a class of vegetables that includes beans, peas and lentils. They are truly among the most versatile and nutritious foods available. And did you know that “Eat Beans Day” is officially on July 3rd? This is the perfect reason to take a healthy and super delicious bean dish to your holiday party this year! Your fellow partygoers will be thankful for a healthy dish to round out all the unhealthy holiday indulgence!
Here are 4 top reasons beans and legumes have awesome health benefits:
High in Protein
Most legumes are packed with protein and are considered one of the best sources of plant-based protein. Chickpeas and navy beans, for example, each contains 15 grams of protein per one-cup serving. We typically think we must eat meat to obtain all the protein we need, but that isn’t true. Plant-based protein doesn’t come with the saturated fat and cholesterol that meat does, making it a healthier choice for dietary protein.
Helps Promote Regularity
In addition to their impressive protein content, legumes also contain a hearty dose of dietary fiber. One cup of cooked lentils, for instance, contains 16 grams of fiber. Fiber helps food move through the digestive tract slowly and adds bulk to the stool to aid in its passage. So, if you are trying to combat constipation, make high fiber foods like beans, peas and lentils your first line of defense. It is important to always increase your fluid intake while increasing your fiber intake.
High in Vitamins and Minerals
Legumes are typically high in folate, potassium, iron, thiamine and magnesium. They also contain beneficial fats and soluble and insoluble fiber. For just over 110 calories, a 1/2-cup serving of cooked black beans delivers 32 percent, 15 percent and 14 percent of the daily values for folate, magnesium and thiamine, respectively, and about 10 percent each of the daily values for iron and potassium. Opting for legumes instead of meat two or three times a week promotes healthy cholesterol levels and helps protect against heart disease too.
Helps with Weight Loss
Studies have shown time and time again that fiber equals weight loss. When people were told to eat 30 grams of fiber daily, but were given no other dietary changes, they lost a significant amount of weight. Current recommendations for fiber suggest consuming 25 to 35 grams per day, however most Americans consume only 11 grams per day on average. That is far from enough! Additionally, eating the recommended amount of fiber can improve health in many other ways, such as lowering your risk of diabetes and heart disease. On the contrary, not getting enough fiber is linked to increased risk of heart disease and increased risk of being overweight or obese.
Legumes are one the healthiest foods we can eat, and luckily for us, they are also versatile and very inexpensive! So, re-think what you are taking to your 4th of July holiday party this year and be sure it includes some beans. Your waistline, heart and digestive track will thank you later!
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