Magic beans: 5 surprising health benefits of baked beans
We are constantly bombarded with the latest nutrition fad or super food, exotic berries or teas that apparently have incredible health benefits and high concentrations of some rare protein that should be worked into our diet and invariably involve trekking out to some weird little pop-up health food store that doesn’t appear on Google maps.
However, there are some foods that we’ve always been eating and that, when consumed as part of a balanced diet can have the same dramatic health effects as amarantha or goji berries.
Humble baked beans, a staple of our diet growing up, are in fact one of the healthiest foods you can pick up in the supermarket. Eating them as part of a balanced diet can help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. What’s more, they’re quick and easy to prepare, cheap and delicious.
Reduced risk of heart disease
Eating beans and that includes baked beans, reduces the risk of heart attack. Experts examined the relationship between bean consumption and occurrence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and reported that one serving per day of beans was associated with a 38% lower risk of myocardial infarction1. We don’t really know why beans have such a powerful effect in the reduction of risk from heart disease but experts think it is a combination of particular characteristics of beans and how they are absorbed by the body and phytochemicals that are found in the beans.
We often hear about the latest superfood that has amazing antioxidant properties and that typically cost an arm and a leg and are only available in specialist food shops. However the humble baked bean, as a bean has antioxidant effects just as powerful and can be found on every super market shelf in the country. All beans contain protease inhibitors that help prevent cancerous cells from affecting nearby tissue. Phytochemicals in beans help to slow down or prevent damage to cells that cause cancer2.
Beans contain the essential amino acids and are therefore known as a complete protein. A large portion of our muscles, cells and tissue is made up of protein, which plays a crucial role in all of our bodily functions and processes, especially repair and recovery. It is therefore essential that we get the right amount of amino acids as part of a balanced diet. Animal-based foods are high in amino acids but eating too much of them can have harmful effects on your health, so we are advised to complement them with protein rich plant foods such as beans and nuts. The good news is that baked beans are a good source of the essential proteins and unlike many legumes which require overnight steeping they are quick and easy to prepare.
High in Fibre
We all know the schoolboy rhyme about baked beans, and well, it’s actually true. The reason some people have more gas after they eat baked beans is because they are high in fibre. Fibre is essential to keep your digestion working properly it also keeps cholesterol down. Eating enough fibre is essential to having a healthy heart and its importance cannot be overstated. It’s important both for young and old, so beans can be a very useful cornerstone for any high fibre diet.
Vitamin and minerals
Baked beans contain folic acid, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and vitamin B6, all important for good health. Folic acid is essential for pregnant women, iron promotes healthy blood cell production Potassium regulates fluids in the body and Vitamin B6 aids the metabolism.
1 Kabagambe EK, Baylin A, Ruiz-Narvarez E, Siles X, Campos H. Decreased consumption of dried mature beans is positively associated with urbanization and nonfatal acute myocardial infarction. J Nutr. 2005;135(7):1770-1775.