February is American Heart Month. It turns out the silly song from when we were kids is true. Beans (and legumes) really are good for your heart. In fact, one study found that people who ate beans four or more times each week were 22 percent less likely to develop heart disease than people who ate them less than once a week.
Beans have been a part of the human diet for a very long time, and they have a lot going for them when it comes to nutrition. Because they’re high in fiber, they are very satiating, which means they keep you feeling full longer. They are high in protein and minerals, but don’t have the saturated fat of some other protein sources.
They’ve also been shown to lower your cholesterol, which a risk factor for heart disease. Beans and legumes are a great source of niacin, magnesium, zinc, potassium and folate, nutrients associated with better heart health. Canned beans tend to be a little high in salt, but you can always rinse them to remove some of it if that’s a concern.
Beans and legumes can be a hard for some people to digest, and that can cause some discomfort. The best way to avoid it is to slowly increase the amount in your diet, so your body has time to adjust. You can also try soaking dry beans for at least 8 hours, cooking them with digestive seasonings like ginger, turmeric or fennel, and pairing them with green veggies and whole grains.
Protein and fiber rich, and naturally low in fat, beans really are good for your heart. If heart disease is a major health concern for you, I recommend you check out this book on whole food, plant based nutrition.
Always remember Eat with a Purpose!