Beans may get a bad rap for making people gassy, but that’s no reason to cut them out of your diet. Beans is one food you must eat always.
Experts recommend you consume up to 3 cups of the legumes a week—because they are so good for your health. And the more you eat, the less likely you are to have tummy trouble. “People who eat beans on a consistent basis experience less gas and bloating than people who consume them less often,” says Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, Health‘s contributing nutrition editor and author.
You have so many varieties to choose from— you don’t have to stick to one particular type.
Beans pack a lot of fiber
Fiber helps your body feel full, so you don’t need to eat as much throughout the day. While current dietary guidelines recommend women get about 25 grams of fiber a day, many fall short. On average, women consume just 12.1 to 13.8 grams a day. Look to beans to help you reach your goal. Just a half cup of cooked navy beans contains nearly 10 grams of fiber. “The fiber in beans doesn’t really break down,” Sass says. That means it won’t wear off much, even after you cook them. Plus, beans have fiber in both the skin and the flesh. “So when you make a white bean dip or black bean hummus, you’re really using the whole bean,” Sass says.
Beans are good for digestion
Beans contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, so they work double to keep your digestive system running smoothly. The first slows down digestion, which gives you that full feeling, and the second helps prevent constipation. And beans aren’t as bad for gas as you think. A study in the Nutrition Journal looked at the effects of pinto beans and black beans on the GI tract. Participants ate a half cup of either bean every day for three weeks. Though a little less than half reported increased flatulence in the first week, most of them felt it had dissipated by the third week. “People’s concerns about excessive flatulence from eating beans may be exaggerated,” the study concluded. Just be sure to drink lots of water—you need it to help all that fiber move through your GI tract, Sass says.
Beans can help regulate blood sugar
On top of being high in fiber, most beans also score low on the glycemic index, a ranking of foods based on how they affect blood sugar. “Because of the fiber and protein, the carbs in beans get absorbed at a slower rate over a longer period of time,” Sass says. That helps keep your blood sugar steady—one reason beans are thought to help keep diabetes at bay. A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine even found that people with type 2 diabetes who consumed one cup of beans daily for three weeks were able to maintain a lower blood sugar and blood pressure than when they started the diet.
I’m sure you are as excited as me, and can’t wait to consume a whole plate of beans… read further to get more benefits of beans, and make sure you count it as a food you must eat always.