Bean consumption is associated with a myriad of health benefits. Learn more about bean nutrition in our videos on the latest research.
The most comprehensive analysis of diet and cancer ever performed was published by the American Institute for Cancer Research. Sifting through some half a million studies, nine independent research teams from around the globe created a landmark scientific consensus report reviewed by 21 of the top cancer researchers in the world. One of their summary cancer-prevention recommendations is to eat whole grains and/or legumes (beans, split peas, chickpeas, or lentils) with every meal. Not every week or every day. Every meal.
The federal government’s MyPlate campaign was developed to prompt Americans to think about building healthy meals. Most of your plate should be covered with vegetables and grains, preferably whole grains, with the rest of the plate split between fruits and the protein group. Legumes were given special treatment, straddling both the protein and the vegetable groups. They’re loaded with protein, iron, and zinc, as you might expect from other protein sources like meat, but legumes also contain nutrients that are concentrated in the vegetable kingdom, including fiber, folate, and potassium. You get the best of both worlds with beans, all the while enjoying foods that are naturally low in saturated fat and sodium and free of cholesterol.
Legumes comprise all the different kinds of beans, including soybeans, split peas, chickpeas, and lentils. While eating a bowl of pea soup or dipping carrots into hummus may not seem like eating beans, it is. We should all try to get three servings a day. A serving is defined as a quarter cup of hummus or bean dip; a half cup of cooked beans, split peas, lentils, tofu, or tempeh; or a full cup of fresh peas or sprouted lentils.
Legume consumption is associated with a slimmer waist and lower blood pressure, and randomized trials have shown it may match or beat out calorie cutting for slimming tummy fat as well as improving the regulation of blood sugar, insulin levels, and cholesterol. Beans are packed with fiber, folate, and phytates, which may help reduce the risk of stroke, depression, and colon cancer. The phytoestrogens in soy in particular appear to both help prevent breast cancer and improve breast cancer survival. No wonder the cancer guidelines suggest you should try to fit beans into your meals—and it’s so easy! They can be added to nearly any meal, easily incorporated into snack times, or served as the star attraction. The possibilities are endless.
Image Credit: Amanda Rae. This image has been modified.
Popular Videos for Beans
All Videos for Beans
The Benefits of Millet for Diabetes
What were the remarkable results of a crossover study randomizing hundreds of people with diabetes to one and a third cup of millet every day?
Plant-Based Meat Substitutes Put to the Test
What are the effects of plant-based meats on premature puberty, childhood obesity, and hip fracture risk?
Plant-Based Protein: Are Pea and Soy Protein Isolates Harmful?
What are the different impacts of plant protein versus animal protein, and do the benefits of plant proteins translate to plant protein isolates?
Are Beyond Meat and the Impossible Burger Healthy?
What happens when you compare the trans fats, saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol levels in plant-based versus animal-based burgers?
How to Reverse Heart Failure with Diet
An entire issue of a cardiology journal dedicated to plant-based nutrition explores the role an evidence-based diet can play in the reversal of congestive heart failure.
Which Foods Have the Lowest Carbon Footprint?
How much greenhouse gas does the production of different foods cause measured in miles driven or lightbulb hour equivalents?
Win-Win Dietary Solutions to the Climate Crisis
The EAT-Lancet Commission lays out the best diet for human and planetary health.
Type 1 Diabetes Treatment: A Plant-Based Diet
Is it possible to reverse type 1 diabetes if caught early enough?
The Efficacy and Safety of Creatine for High Homocysteine
Those on a healthy plant-based diet with elevated homocysteine levels despite taking sufficient vitamin B12 may want to consider taking a gram a day of contaminant-free creatine.
Should Vegetarians Take Creatine to Normalize Homocysteine?
What are the consequences of having to make your own creatine rather than relying on dietary sources?
How to Test for Functional Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Many doctors mistakenly rely on serum B12 levels in the blood to test for vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vegetarians and Stroke Risk Factors—Animal Protein?
Might animal protein-induced increases in the cancer-promoting grown hormone IGF-1 help promote brain artery integrity?