Beans take some getting used to, when they have been ignored in the daily diet. I must say, that I used to blame beans for intestinal problems in the past. Since changing to a plant-based diet, I now know that my intestinal problems were caused by processed foods, dairy and meat.
There are some really great benefits from consuming beans. I encourage everyone to work at including them in their daily dietary routine! Here are some reasons to eat beans:
- High in dietary fiber. Increasing fiber in your diet will keep your intestinal tract clean for good bacteria to live. It also shortens the duration of time that digested food remains in your GI tract, reducing your risk of colon or colo-rectal cancer.
- Source of protein. The number of grams per cup varies within the many varieties of beans. In general, beans contain between 12-15 grams of protein per cup. Some soybean preparations contain far more protein.
- Rich in minerals. Beans have folic acid, potassium, copper, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum and iron among other great nutrients such as vitamin B1.
- Fights cancer by lowering IGF-1. Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) is a hormone synthesized by the liver. It becomes elevated in our blood stream when we eat animal based proteins. Research has revealed that increased IGF-1 leads to increased growth of existing cancer. IGF-1 also inhibits cell death, resulting in the further feeding of cancer cells.
- Affordable source of nutrition. A plant-based diet does not have to cost more. In fact, with some strategic planning including beans and legumes, going plant-based can save you a good deal in your grocery budget. It can also help to save your carbon footprint, if you are into that sort of thing.
- Easy to cook large quantities and store in freezer. If you are frustrated by the preparation time for cooking beans from their dry state, just cook up a large quantity when you have the spare time. Store your cooked beans in freezer style bags and place them in the freezer. From the freezer, your cooked beans are easy to add to soups, chili and for making humus!
If you are interested in increasing your intake of beans and legumes, experiment with different varieties. I have found, for example, that I can digest small red beans better than kidney beans. I also have had trouble digesting garbanzo beans, but periodically tried to eat them in order to see if my digestion would accept them. One day, I ate some homemade humus and had no troubles. So don't give up on beans. There may be a time that you can enjoy a wide variety of them after a period of healing takes place in your gut. The legumes that are easiest to digest are lentils. They are super easy to prepare, not requiring soaking or lengthy boiling times to cook. Just toss a couple hands full into your soup and simmer for 30 minutes!