Beans originated in South America from where they were taken to North America and Europe and thence to the rest of the world. There are about 40,000 varieties of of beans in the world but only a few are mass consumed.
The common varieties include black beans, green beans, white beans, kidney beans, butter beans, pinto beans, mung beans and soya beans.
They all have certain things in common; they are rich in protein, have the same value of carbohydrates including fibres, low in fat but has no cholesterol. Beans are rich in potassium, but poor in vitamins, have only a little amount of Naicin ( a type of vitamin B)
The health benefits of beans are due to protein, low glycaemic carbohydrates, fibres and potassium.
1. Important for body building
Protein is an organic compound containing carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. The smallest unit of protein is AMINO ACID; when we eat protein it is broken down by our body during digestion to amino acids.
The origin of amino acid is plant, plants synthesise amino acids from carbon dioxide, water and nitrogen obtained from soil or in some cases from the air; this is followed by combining several amino acids to form protein. Animals get protein when they eat plants while man gets protein when he eats plants and /or animals.
There are 20 amino Acids, out of which 9 are essential (cannot be manufactured by the body) and thus must be gotten from foods eaten while the other 11 are non-essential (can be manufactured by the body) using nitrogen obtained from other amino acids.
The body combines the various amino acids to form proteins; two types of proteins are formed:- fibrous protein and globular proteins. The fibrous protein is strong mechanically and makes up the muscles, hair, nails and connective tissue; the globular protein which is water soluble is found within the cells and constitute the hormones, antibodies, enzymes and body fluid.
Plant proteins are of low quality,; they may have all the nine essential amino acids or some of them and in insufficient amounts. Thus one needs to consume a wide variety of plants to get all the nine essential amino acids in sufficient quantities.
However; one plant that has all the nine essential amino acids in sufficient quantities is SOYBEAN.
It is therefore a source of high quality protein; in fact the only plant source.
Functions of protein include body building (growth), provision of energy, formation of hormones, antibodies, enzymes and body fluids. Proteins also help in the transportation of certain substances in the body.
Beans contain a lot of protein 4.5-9 grams in every 100 grams.
2. Helps to regulate your blood pressure
Beans contain a lot of the mineral called Potassium which is known to help the heart and reduces blood pressure. Low potassium can cause Constipation, lack of appetite and poor working of the heart. Potassium appears to relax the blood vessels.
3. Prevents Constipation and Piles
Beans contain a lot of fibre: fibre adds bulk to stool, making bowel movement easier. Insoluble fibre does this better. When plenty of fibre is consumed, the stool is large and soft, this stimulates the muscles of the intestines to contract, pushing out the stool (faeces) without the individual straining himself. With little fibre in the food, the stool is usually small and hard and therefore requires force to come out. Regular straining during the passage of faeces can lead to piles (haemorrhoids) and other conditions such as pouches (diverticulosis) in the large intestines. Piles can lead to anaemia due to bleeding.
4. Fights against cancer
As said earlier, Beans are very rich in fibres; many studies in the last three decades have shown a link between increased fibre in-take and a decrease in colon cancer. This could be due to the fibre itself or the nutrients that are usually in fibre-rich foods such as vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and essential fatty acid.
5. Help in the management of type diabetes
Beans contain low glycaemic carbohydrates, they increase the blood sugar when eaten very slowly ; this is very good in the management of diabetes mellitus. The blood sugar is kept low by regular consumption of beans
6. Reduce Risk of Heart Disease.
Beans contain fibres, soluble fibre reduces absorption of cholesterol and bile acid (which are also rich in cholesterol) from the small intestines, thereby reducing blood cholesterol level. When soluble fibres are broken down by bacteria in the intestines, some fatty acids released are said to reduce the production of cholesterol by the liver. By lowering blood cholesterol, fibres help to reduce the risk of heart disease.
7. Reduce Risk of Stroke
Fibres lower blood cholesterol by reducing its absorption in the intestines thus helping to reduce the risk of stroke which is associated with high blood cholesterol Level. Stroke results from narrowing/blockage or rupture of blood vessels supplying blood to the brain. Beans as said earlier contain a lot of fibre.
8. Help in weight control/ Prevent Obesity.
Eating fibre – rich foods like beans helps in weight control and therefore prevents obesity. Fibre-rich foods are bulky and fill the stomach easily and there is therefore the feeling of fullness and satisfaction.