It’s not that you've never heard of black beans before, it’s just that you probably never considered them “super.” Well, you should. These dark, delicious beans are not only plentiful and cheap, they’re jam packed with many of the most essential nutrients your body needs to perform at peak levels. They are a great addition to any diet. The best part of all, is they are versatile and easy to use in a wide variety of recipes.
From protein to fiber to antioxidants, I’m going to take you on a tour of the nutritional powerhouse that is the black bean, presenting 5 reasons why black beans should be added to the list of superfoods.
Black Beans for Fiber
I want to talk about fiber... you know, the stuff doctors are always saying we need more of in our diet. You’re in luck. Like other legumes, black beans are one of the greatest natural sources of dietary fiber. Just one cup provides nearly 50% of your daily value for fiber.
Because of their low glycemic index, they are a great dietary choice for those trying to naturally maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Fiber is nature’s regulatory board, helping maintain optimum digestion and absorption of nutrients. The soluble fiber helps absorb water in the stomach, forming a gel that facilitates healthy metabolism of the bean’s carbohydrates.
Fiber is also great for naturally maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, because it binds with bile acids that are used to make cholesterol. But it’s fiber’s role in digestion that is really key. More and more research is connecting healthy digestion with overall health and wellness. It seems the better you take care of your tummy, the better you’ll feel overall. Black beans are a tasty way to add fiber to your diet.
Nutrition Facts Image: Eden Foods Organic Black Beans
Black Beans for Protein
Most vegans and vegetarians are well-versed in organic foods benefits, which includes black beans for they’re great source of protein. Protein is essential to human life. It is found in your bones, muscles, skin, organs, blood, hormones and enzymes. Just one cup of cooked black beans can provide you with about 30% of your daily value of protein.
So if you’re thinking about reducing your intake of meat, consider adding a serving of black beans to your regular healthy diet to replace that reduction in meat protein. As an added bonus, black beans have fewer calories and less saturated fat than meat or dairy. In that one cup, you’ll only be taking in about 230 calories and virtually no fat at all, which is why protein is also known to help maintain weight loss.
Black Beans for Antioxidants
Superfoods boast high levels of these free-radical fighting compounds, but the most common superfoods are fruits like acai berries and pomegranate, or even tradititional elderberry juice. When you think of antioxidants, you again probably don’t think of black beans. But “research published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry indicates that black beans are as rich in antioxidant compounds called anthocyanins as grapes and cranberries, fruits long considered antioxidant superstars,” (www.whfoods.org).
These antioxidant compounds are known as “free radical” scavengers because they help prevent oxidative damage to our bodies. Instead of relying mostly on supplements, nutritionists argue that you should up your intake of antioxidant-rich foods like fruits and vegetables. Now you can add black beans to that list. They are one of the most versatile natural health solutions Mother Nature has given us.
Black Beans for Iron
Iron is a trace mineral that is often associated with women’s health, mostly due to the importance of iron for pregnant or nursing women. However, we all need iron for its role in natural energy production. Just like fiber, black beans are a great way to maintain a healthy intake of iron if you are on a low- or no-meat diet (i.e. vegetarians and vegans).
RECIPE: Best Black Bean Burgers
Just one cup provides around 20% of your daily value for iron. “Iron is an integral component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is also part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism,” according to www.whfoods.org. But again, children and adolescents also have increased needs, so adding a black bean dish to your rotation of main healthy meals is just one of several natural health choices that you can make for the benfit of your entire family.
Blacks Beans for Folate & Magnesium
Due to their significant amounts of folate (aka Folic Acid) and magnesium, black beans have also been studied for their cardiovascular health benefits. Folate’s role in promoting cardiovascular health lies in its role of helping to maintain healthy homocysteine levels.
One cup of black beans provides about 20% of your daily value for folate. That same cup also provides 30% of your daily value for magnesium, a key mineral that is needed for over 300 biochemical reactions in your body. Chief among those is supporting overall heart health. Black beans really are one of nature's best health nutrition products. As far as general health tips go, adding black beans to your diet is a no brainer.
Would you ever have guessed that these little legumes provide so much healthy nutrition?
How do you use black beans?