You probably already know that legumes are good for you. Beans, to be more specific, are full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and protein. They are actually the edible seeds that grow in pods on annual plants, bushes, or vines. And you don’t just have to eat beans from a can. You can eat them fresh, sprouted, dried, and ground into flour. There are thousands of bean varieties around the world and they are the cornerstone of many traditional diets.
These healthy foods have been in the news of late — and for good reason. Eating more beans, such as soy, adzuki or mung, could help protect your bones as you age. This latest health tip comes courtesy of a team of researchers based Seoul, Korea. They conducted a study to investigate whether consumption of soybeans, mung beans, black-eyed peas, and/or adzuki beans have beneficial effects on bones in rats with their ovaries surgically removed. The rats were fed a regular diet, or a diet containing either soybeans (click here to find out how soybeans could help with joint pain) or one of the other aforementioned types of beans.
The researchers found that eating beans did not, unfortunately, significantly alter the body, subcutaneous fat, or uterus weight of the rats. However, consumption did significantly increase the serum calcium/phosphorous ratio in the bones of the rats. The bean diet also decreased urinary calcium excretion compared with those in the regular diet group.
One more interesting result: the researchers also found that concentration of “osteocalcin” in the blood was significantly higher in all the rats given a diet with beans compared to the same diet without. Osteocalcin is often used as a marker for the bone formation process. It has been observed that higher blood-osteocalcin levels are linked with increases in bone mineral density.
The research team found no significant differences in bone mineral density or bone mineral content of the right femur, tibia, or lumbar spine or in the bone volume of the tibia among the diet groups. They concluded that the consumption of soybean, mung bean, black-eyed pea, and adzuki bean could improve osteocalcin, but only those fed black-eyed peas showed a decreased bone resorption biomarker, suggesting that black-eyed pea may have the most protective effect on your bones.
Beans are a good source of B-vitamins, including folic acid. Beans also provide iron, potassium, selenium, magnesium and even some calcium. Dried beans are a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. They provide little fat and no cholesterol. While beans don’t supply complete protein, they do provide several amino acids. So go ahead and find a way to eat them every day.