Beans are a phytonutrient rich food and an excellent addition to a varied, economical, healthy diet. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended a shift towards a plant based diet (see here, here, here), and beans are a great source of plant protein (see also here, here). Eating just half a cup of beans a day for two months can result in a 20 point drop in serum cholesterol. Beans also help reduce blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and lower body weight. Bean consumption may also be protective against cancer (see here). Black beans appear to be slightly healthier than pinto beans and lentils (red lentils are the healthiest) come in second after black beans in terms of antioxidant content (see also here, here). Tempeh is a whole soy food and perhaps the healthiest form of soy you can eat. Tofu, as long as it isn’t made with formaldehyde like it is in Malaysia, is also health-promoting. Soy consumption has been found to reduce abdominal fat. Protein from vegetables has been associated with improved fertility in women. Beans are also a great source of zinc, which is recommended for men on all diets. And obtaining folate from beans and legumes rather than taking folic acid supplements is probably healthier (though folic acid supplements are still recommended in early pregnancy). Coffee (made from beans! Well seeds, technically…), appears to be protective against diabetes, liver cancer, and brain cancer. The plastic linings in bean cans can contain BPA, though there are brands that don’t use it.
Topic summary contributed by Sue.