Are legumes worth more than a hill of beans? Beans are as old as time. Archeological evidence shows that beans were cultivated as early as 9750 BC! Yet, we are just beginning to discover all of their hidden powers.
Reduce Cardiovascular Risk with Beans
Beans are rich in fiber which slows how quickly they are digested, making them a low glycemic index food. Beans also provide vegetable protein, which can help lower cholesterol. There was a recent study that showed that a diet high in legumes lowered blood sugar and A1c in diabetics. Additionally, the people who ate a diet rich in legumes lowered their blood pressure and cholesterol and lost weight. All of these factors combine to reduce cardiovascular risk.
Start Choosing Beans Over Meat
In contrast to the health benefits beans provide, more and more evidence is showing that animal fat found in red meat may be harmful. There have been links to heart disease, colon cancer and higher cholesterol. Furthermore, meat production contributes to global warming by generating more greenhouse gases than vegetable production. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported that producing a half pound hamburger patty creates as much greenhouse gas as driving a 3,000 pound car for 10 miles. The Environmental Working Group stated that if Americans went meatless one day a week, it would be the equivalent of driving 91 billion miles less per year.
So, as we look toward the New Year and make resolutions to be healthier or more environmentally conscious, perhaps we should start by eating less meat. I’m not advocating that we all become vegetarians, but I can support eliminating meat from your diet one day a week. Beans and rice make a great alternative.
About Dr. Susan Szulc
Susan V. Szulc, MD, is a board-certified internist with Bon Secours Medical Associates at Virginia Beach. She received her bachelor of science in microbiology from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla. Dr. Szulc earned her medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) in Norfolk, Va., where she also completed a residency in internal medicine. Dr. Szulc is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. She is a member of the American Medical Association, American College of Physicians and American Medical Women’s Association. Dr. Szulc’s special interests include palliative care and hypertension.
Sources: Archives of Internal Medicine