Beans and lentils are healthy foods. They are sometimes neglected as a good source for health and nutrition because they can be perceived as boring and flavorless. Beans and lentils are nevertheless extremely nutritious and should be included as a part of a healthy diet.
Both beans and lentils are packed full of fiber and protein and contain very little fat. Beans and lentils are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals, which can be beneficial in fighting a number of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke, inflammatory diseases, osteoporosis and depression.
Black beans are a source of soluble fiber and are effective in lowering bad cholesterol by as much as 24 percent. A side-benefit of this decrease in LDL’s is to lower blood pressure. The fiber in black beans is able to sufficiently keep sugar levels to within a healthy zone, while damping hunger. Black beans are good for diabetics because they can level out their calorie consumption without elevating their glucose levels.
These same beneficial effects can be found in a number of different kinds of beans. The most popular kinds of beans and peas include chickpeas (or garbanzo beans), lima beans, fava beans, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, navy beans, pinto beans and great northern beans.
Lentils are rich in many nutrients, but are particularly rich when it comes to the B vitamins. These B vitamins can help to prevent heart attacks. Lentils are also very rich in protein, fiber and a variety of minerals such as ones that help support the strength of the immune system. Examples of these are copper, zinc and manganese and iron. Lentils are particularly rich in iron, which recommends them for people with certain kinds of iron-deficiency anemia.
Miso may not be found in many American households, but it should be considered as a healthy alternative, and a great way to increase the number of beans in your diet. Miso is a type of soybean paste that is often used as a seasoning for sauces and soups. Miso is rich in substances called isoflavones which are believed to help protect against the development and growth of breast cancer because they inhibit the growth of the blood vessels that are responsible fro the rapid growth of tumors.
Also rich in both iron and calcium (when it is sufficiently processed with the salts of calcium) is soybean curd or tofu. Tempeh is another soy product that boasts high levels of vitaimin A, B6, magnesium and zinc. Tempeh has slightly lower levels of fat than does tofu. Other soy products are worth considering because of their nutritional value, including soymilk and other soy beverages such as chocolate soymilk, soy nuts, soy yogurt, tofu (as previously mentioned) and a variety of products made from tofu.
All soy products are derived from soybeans. This means that they all are high in protein content. Protein is made up of all of the essential amino acids that the body needs to function at its healthiest. Soybeans are also extremely rich in all of the B vitamins, as well as fiber, the omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and phosphorus.
Scott Meyers is a staff writer for Its Entirely Natural, a resource for helping you achieve a naturally healthy body, mind, and spirit. You may contact our writers through the web site. Follow this link for more information on Food Cures.