6 reasons to eat more beans and lentils

Packed with nutrients, legumes are nature's almost-perfect food. Here are 6 reasons to eat more of them

By Margaret Nearing

6 reasons to eat more beans and lentils

1. Control your weight

A recent study in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that people who eat beans had a 22 percent lower risk of obesity and were more likely to have a smaller waist than people who didn’t eat beans. Beans are high in soluble fibre, which slows digestion and makes you feel full longer. One cup (250 mL) of black beans, for example, provides 60 percent of the daily value (DV)* for fibre.

2. Pump more iron

Combining iron-rich beans and lentils with good sources of vitamin C increases the body’s ability to absorb the iron. Lentils are a great source of iron; one cup provides 37 percent of the DV.

3. Lower cancer risk

In a review of dietary data from 90,630 women age 26 to 46, scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health found that those who ate beans and lentils at least twice a week had a 25 percent lower risk of breast cancer than women who ate them just once a month.

4. Boost your enzymes

Copper—a trace mineral key to the function of several enzymes —is crucial for making skin pigment and connective tissues. One cup of adzuki beans has 34 percent of copper’s DV.

5. Control high blood pressure

A recent Australian study found that dietary protein and soluble fibre help prevent hypertension and improve control of it. The researchers suggested legumes as a way to increase both nutrients in your daily diet.

6. Prevent birth defects

Folate is, of course, a must for any woman considering having children, as it helps prevent defects in developing neural tubes. One cup of lentils provides a whopping 90 percent of the DV of folate.

This article was originally titled "Super Beans and Lentils," in the March/April 2009 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today and never miss an issue!

Best Health Magazine, March/April 2009

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