Dan Buettner, a National Geographic explorer, and the author went on a quest a few years ago to find the lifestyle secrets to centenarians; the people who live 100 plus years in good health.
He traveled around the world to study communities with surprisingly high percentages of centenarians. He found five regions where on an average people lived to be 100 and enjoyed good health: Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Ogliastra Region, Sardinia; Loma Linda, Calif.; and Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica. He called them blue zones. He studied their eating habits and one of the surprising findings was: They eat mostly plants, especially beans and lentils.
Beans and lentils are in the family of legumes So do legumes add years to our life or do they really offer any health advantage? If yes what is the medical science behind it? Let's find out. Let's decode the health benefits of legumes systematically.
They are one of the best sources of fibers on the planet. High fiber diet is very important in the prevention of obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease. A cup of cooked beans gives anywhere from 11g to 17 gm of fibers per serving.
They are the ultimate regulator of blood sugar- The soluble fibers in beans regulates the rate at which carbs in beans are absorbed making it one of the best low glycemic index food
Cancer- In the Nurses' Health Study II eating beans just two times a day reduced the risks of breast cancer by 24%. One of the phytochemicals found in beans- diosgenin inhibit cancer cells from multiplying
Beans are loaded with antioxidants- The USA's ranking of food by antioxidant capacity lists small dried red beans as having the highest antioxidant capacity per serving size of any food tested.
Protein- Beans are an excellent source of protein. And unlike animal protein, this protein source does not come with any steroids, hormones or antibiotics. It does not cause any inflammation.
Beans lower cholesterol. A cup of cooked beans a day can lower total cholesterol by up to 10 % -20%. A study conducted at the University of Kentucky showed that in only three weeks of eating 1/2 cup of navy or pinto beans per day lowered cholesterol by 19%
Let's also talk a little bit about lentils as they are in the same family as beans and also they share the same health advantages.
Lentils are small, disk-shaped brown, reddish-orange or brownish-green legumes. Lentils are different from beans in that they don't contain sulfur and therefore don't produce gas. Lentils also do not need any pre-soaking and can be ready in 20-30 minutes.
Lentils shares all the health benefits of beans. So anyone who is prone to produce gas after beans ingestion would do well with lentils.
Few other health benefits of lentils:
Rich source of protein and fiber- A cup of lentils contains 18 gm of protein and 16 gm of fibers.
Easy and quick to cook
Lentils are also an excellent source of folate and a good source of many minerals.
A cup of Lentil usually provides 37 %of iron and 49% of manganese- an important mineral that is essential for proper metabolism of sugars, insulin and cholesterol regulation.
Lentils have the second-highest ratio of protein per calorie of any legume, after soybeans.
The Harvard School of Public Health names legumes such as lentils a better protein choice. A 2012 study published in the "Archives of Internal Medicine" reported that substituting lean protein sources like beans or lentils for red meat could lower your overall risk of dying from most diseases, including cancer and heart disease.
So yes the beans and lentils are one of the healthiest food and must be part of our daily meals.
And it is always better to prepare beans at home than using canned beans. .#Diet