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June 2014

The Benefits of Beans

Beans come in all shapes, sizes and colors and are a specific type of legume.  It has been known for some time that beans can lower cholesterol levels in the blood.  A recent study suggests that beans may reduce blood pressure.  These are key factors in maintaining a healthy heart and reducing the risk of coronary artery disease.  Findings also suggest that beans have a lower glycemic index which may improve blood sugar control for those with diabetes, the risk of diabetes or insulin resistance.

Nutrient Packed and Fiber Rich
All types of beans are packed with nutrients.  Beans are high in protein and an excellent source of fiber.  Beans are also rich in vitamins and minerals including; folic acid, iron, potassium and magnesium.

Fiber Facts
Beans are an excellent source; note the various beans listed below and grams of fiber they provide per 1/2 cup cooked serving.  

Kidney Beans


Split Peas




Black Beans


Pinto Beans




Lima Beans


Black-Eyed Peas


Fiber is a key nutrient to healthy aging.  Aim for 30 grams (men) and at least 21 grams (women) daily.

Beans Have Something for Almost Everyone
Beans will most likely promote intestinal gas.  Here are some suggestions and possible remedies to minimize this challenge:

  • Add gradually to your diet.
  • Try different varieties to see if some are easier to digest.
  • Soak the dry beans in water, discard this water and cook in fresh water.  If canned beans are used, rinse them.
  • When cooking, add a potato (cut in quarters). Do not eat the potato as it may de-gas the beans.
  • Add the Mexican herb epazote to the cooking liquid.
  • Take Beano®, an over the counter natural enzyme, that aids in digestion of beans and other vegetables that promote gas.

If you have gout limit beans, some are higher in purines and may aggravate this condition.  

Boosting Your Bean Intake
Current US dietary recommendations are for adults to include 1-2 cups of beans each week.  One serving is 1/2 cup of cooked beans, so try to have 4 servings over the week.  If you are diabetic substitute the beans for other grains and starches.  Beans can be eaten alone, mixed with vegetables or added to salads, soups and stews.  It is best to use the “dried” beans that will need to be soaked and cooked.  If you wish to use canned beans, purchase low sodium and rinse them thoroughly.  Beans are an inexpensive source of high quality protein and will enhance your fiber and nutrient intake.  Try some and enjoy!


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