For me? No. Too high in phytates, even soaked, and very carby. I'll eat them once in a blue moon, as I do love the flavor of black beans or roasted chickpeas, but as a regular component of my diet they're as inflammatory as grains. So I avoid both. Your mileage may vary, half a cup every day or two isn't going to be the end of the world.
Recent research has shown that black beans provide special support for digestive tract health, and particularly our colon. The indigestible fraction (IF) in black beans has recently been shown to be larger than the IF in either lentils or chickpeas. It has been shown to be the perfect mix of substances for allowing bacteria in the colon to produce butyric acid. Cells lining the inside of the colon can use this butyric acid to fuel their many activities and keep the lower digestive tract functioning properly. By delivering a greater amount of IF to the colon, black beans are able to help support this lower part of our digestive tract. Lowered colon cancer risk that is associated with black bean intake in some research studies may be related to the outstanding IF content of this legume.
I won't contest the nutrients. It's the antinutrients in beans folks should careful with. But again, this is an individual sensitivity issue. If you have food allergies or insulin considerations like me they're not a great choice. No particular sensitivities, conditions, or a plan that prohibits them? Then go for it. But I would do a little research into the phytates, lectins, etc. Proper soaking and fermenting solves this issue, and industrial gassing to a lesser extent, but it's still good to be knowledgable on the subject, just in case some symptoms pop up
Our family doesn't eat meat, other than a little fish, so beans play a steady role in our cooking. I don't usually buy the canned beans because they 1) come from cans that have BPA in the lining, 2) have a higher sodium content, 3) have a texture that I don't like, and 4) are more expensive than dry beans.
It's really easy to cook up a batch of beans after soaking them overnight and freezing in freezer bags. I put them in soups, casseroles, chili, veggie patties, savory pies, pasta sauce, and other meals.
(restart 3/10/11, 262.8lbs)
250lbs by 4/18/11 (met 4/6/11)
220lbs by7/17/11 (met 6/5/11)
199lbs by 9/15/11 (met 7/18/11) (no longer obese at 202lbs; met 7/12/11)
175lbs by 12/5/11 (met 9/13/11)
169lbs- normal BMI (met 10/7/11)
162lbs by 1/23/12 (100lb loss since restart) met 11/4/11
150lbs by 3/01/12 met 12/15/11
Walk to Mordor Challenge: 250 out of 1779 miles done
I've also read articles that say phytates serve purpose. I think it's one of those things that may vary by individual but also something we may hear the other side of years down the road. The healthfulness of the Mediterranean diet has a fair amount of research behind it.
I've had a high-sensitive CRP test (good inflammation test), and mine was literally off-the-charts low, despite a diet high in legumes and whole grains including wheat. And that was before I started soaking any of it. (I soak some, as a "just in case" thing.) So, while wheat (not the subject here, I realize) and legumes may be inflammatory for some, they don't appear to be for me.
So I agree that you should see how they work for you!
I was concerned about carbs, and just added them recently. Arctic Mama & Krampus have me rethinking that a little.
One thing, though--I was trying to add more fiber, and noticed even fruits and veggies only provided a fraction of the RDA, whereas beans hit it out of the park.
Are you sure about that? I eat 3-6 cups of leafy/nutrient dense veggies a day and am FAR exceeding the daily recommendations for fiber, even on a no starch (no grains, beans, sugar, etc) diet. If all you're eating is corn and potatoes, that might be an issue, but cucumber, bell pepper, mushroom, salad greens, artichokes, celery, green beans, etc, all make it easy to get plenty of protein. Throw in some delicata squash or pumpkin, and your vitamin A and fiber is through the roof. Half a cup of broccoli or a piece of bread, which is going to give more nutritional AND fibrous bang for the buck?
If fiber I truly an issue, adding some flax or psyllium husk powder will do it. But beans are not as fibrous per calorie as many other alternatives
ETA - I thought about it and should clarify my position a bit. It's not the amount of fiber that is so important as the function of the body in relation to nutrients. Do most healthy people eating six cups of nutrient dense vegetables have health problems that require fiber supplementation? Insoluble fiber, in particular is not only overrated but newer studies indicate that it may actually damage the intestines and cause inflammation due to the injuries and scraping. If a diet is sufficient in fat and nutritious vegetable matter, is supplementing fiber or oat bran or a half cup of beans really doing much to improve health? Are the folks to whom the fiber RDA is aimed actually the ones eating whole, nutritious diets, or are they loaded up on refined, processed food and light on real nourishment?
If your diet is nutritionally sound, fiber supplementation in the form of grains OR beans is not really necessary for most. That doesn't mean it can't be consumed, but don't let the RDA for such a substance be your litmus. More important is to get the full spectrum of necessary, digestible vitamins and let the roughage take care of itself in the process. This is more sound dietary advice on the subject and what I should have indicated initially! I assumed it went without saying, but you know what they say about assumptions
The answer really depends on so many factors that no one can give you a definite yes/no answer without knowing the entire context of your diet.
A diet can be healthy, a food can't be, except in the context of the persons nutritional needs (where are the "gaps" in their current diet, and which foods can fill those gaps - or which health issues is the person dealing with and which food are helpful/harmful to those issues).
A BigMac or Whopper is going to be healthier for a starving person than for an overweight person.
For an overweight person a lean chicken salad is going to be a healthier choice.
Believe it or not, salt can be healthy or unhealthy for a very obese person with high blood pressure. I'm such a person. My blood sodium levels tend to run on the low side (lots of reasons for this including being raised in a family in which fast food and junk wasn't eaten very often, very little salt was added to the food, and virtually none at the table.... also my blood pressure medications tend to be potassium sparing, because most are because the SAD is so high in salt).
When my blood sodium levels get too low, my doctor will actually recommend that I add extra salt for a couple days (I've even had to have sodium supplements before a surgery once). My mother experiences this too and was actually hospitalized with water intoxication (essentially sodium depletion).
So most people would see us adding salt to our food and say "that's not healthy," well for us, it is - because we only add salt to our food when our doctors have told us to do it for a few days.
All foods are healthy or unhealthy only within the context of each person's individual health, diet, and needs.
I don't eat a lot of beans, because I'm insulin resistant and I limit all starches. I love beans and grains, but they don't work well in my body. I also have a wheat sensitivity (I've tested negatively for celiac disease). When I eat small amounts of wheat my skin especially on my face, hands, and feet swell and become red and itchy. When I eat I eat wheat or large amounts of other carby foods (even the ones most people consider healthy) I also have a reoccurence of the autoimmune issues that without the carbs remains in partial remission (there are some indications that the disease is still active, but no progressive organ damage has been detected. In fact there's some indication that the scar tissue on my lungs caused by the autoimmune issues is actually starting to heal).
My case is an extreme one, but really at the core, it's no different for ANYONE. What a healthy diet looks like for you, depends on way too many variables for random strangers to weigh in on whether you should or shouldn't be eating beans.
If beans are the highest fiber food that you're eating, you're probably not eating enough vegetables. There might be a reason why beans SHOULD be the highest fiber food you're eating, but I don't know that about you. Unless you have some kind of medical condition in which you've been adviced not to eat leafy veggies, I'd say those foods are a higher priority than beans.
And that's what a healthy diet really is about - priorities. For me, protein is the highest priority (which doesn't mean that most of my volume comes from protein, it doesn't). Veggies are priority 2. Then Fruits, then fats, and then fruits, grains...
I know which foods aggravate my health issues and beans (as well as soy) fall about half-way. I can include them in my diet in moderation, but moderation isn't huge amounts. Though beans are a higher priority than Milky Ways. A serving of quinoa or beans or a couple pieces of fruit aren't likely to aggravate my health issues noticeably (unless I start eating large quantities) in the same way that even one tiny cinnamon roll made with wheat will.
It's all "YMMV" (Your Mileage May Vary).
The only way to know which foods are healthy FOR YOU is to speak to your doctor and a dietitian about it - or if you're in very good health, experiment and keep a food/symptom/feeling journal, and write in it faithfully to see patterns. Which foods make you feel worse after eating them? Which foods help you feel better?
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