Do Something Good for Your Heart

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Many people do not take the time to add beans to their diet. This is a shame because beans are great source of protein and are full of healthy nutrients. They are inexpensive to buy and can be used in countless delicious recipes. Beans come in an astonishing variety of colors, shapes and tastes. They are versatile, easy to store, and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Some people may hesitate to add beans to their diet because they feel they are too time-consuming to prepare. But beans can be easily and efficiently cooked on the stove top. While it is true that some beans need to be soaked overnight, it only takes a few moments to throw a cup or two of navy beans, for example, in a pot before bed and leave them to soak. And as far as the gas issue around eating beans goes, most people are not actually affected this way.

Beans, peas and lentils are all ancient foods. They have literally been around since the dawn of civilization. Beans are an excellent alternative to meat when it comes to getting a daily dose of protein. One cup of lentils provides 17 g of protein and only 0.75 g of fat. Compare this to two ounces of extra-lean sirloin steak, which has the same amount of protein, but six times the fat!

Many studies have been done to show that a vegetarian diet high in protein from sources such as beans can contribute more to your good health than a diet high in animal protein. Did you know that eating vegetable protein could also help to prevent calcium loss? It’s true — animal protein causes you to lose more calcium than vegetable protein, putting you at risk for osteoporosis. Eating beans has also been associated with lower cholesterol levels, which means a healthier heart for you. Beans are high in fiber (animal protein has no fiber), which helps to reduce bad cholesterol levels and increase good cholesterol levels.

In one clinical trial, 20 men diagnosed with high cholesterol were put on a bean diet for 21 days. Researchers discovered that the bean diet reduced serum cholesterol concentrations by 19% and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol by 24%.

W! hich beans have the highest cholesterol-lowering ability? Choose beans that are the highest in fiber. Lentils, black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, and chickpeas are all good sources of fiber. These beans will also give you a healthy dose of folate. When you don’t get enough folate, the homocysteine levels in your body can rise. Homocysteine can damage your blood vessel walls, as it accumulates. Around 20% to 40% of patients with coronary artery disease also have elevated homocysteine levels. Make sure you are getting enough folate in your diet by adding meals that contain beans — you’ll be getting potassium, calcium and magnesium, too, which are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and hypertension.

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