Beans are rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants and are an excellent addition to a variedeconomical, healthy diet. All four of the major dietary food-scoring systems promote beans as a part of a healthy diet, one of only four foods these guidelines agree on. The newest dietary guidelines for Americans also promote whole plant food consumption, including a high legume intake.

Many of the most health-promoting and disease-reversing diets ever studied emphasize high bean and legume consumption:

Beans contain a multitude of nutrients that are known to be health-promoting:

Bean consumption appears to play a role in the following:

In fact, beans are so health promoting that their consumption is now believed to be the single most important predictor of longevity among older populations around the world.

Black beans appear to be slightly more antioxidant-rich than pinto beans. Lentils (red lentils more than than green ones) come in second after black beans for antioxidant content. Tempeh is a whole soybean food and as such is one of the healthiest forms of soy.

There appears to be little difference in nutrient profiles among cooked, sprouted and canned beans, but some canned beans may contain up to one hundred times more salt than beans prepared at home. One should also be aware that the plastic linings in bean cans produced by certain companies contain BPA.

Unfortunately, 98% of Americans are not utilizing the full potential of these versatile, cost-effective, environmentally friendly foods. Public health and economic policies could do more to promote the consumption of healthy foods. It’s never too late to accrue health benefits from switching to a healthier diet and lifestyle.

Topic summary contributed by Miranda.