If you’re looking for an inexpensive source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fibre, and other essential nutrients, then legumes come very handy. You can choose from chickpeas, split peas, lentils, and all kinds of beans. But kidney beans, black beans, lentils, and pinto beans are definitely the richest source of these nutrients, and the good news is, you can get them from the market at such cheap prices!
These nutritional values are believed to have profound effects on certain body issues including high cholesterol, oxidative stress, inflammation, overweightness, and insulin resistance – the major culprits behind the development of cardiovascular diseases.
So the question is, are we less prone to cardiovascular diseases when we eat more legumes? It appears so! It is believed that some simple dietary changes combined with an increased intake of legumes can help prevent the onset of cardiovascular problems in the general population. But of course, lifestyle changes must also follow. Eating more legumes on a regular basis doesn’t mean you can continue smoking or drinking and just skip exercising.
The amount of legumes consumed on a regular basis varies from one location to another. In Costa Rica, some people are eating beans daily. Controlling other factors in play, such as cholesterol and saturated fat, it was concluded that a serving of beans daily is associated with a 38% reduction in the risk of hard attack.
The question is, do you get to live longer? Certainly! Taking into consideration other dietary and lifestyle factors, mortality rate reduces by 8% with regular servings of beans. But of course, since there are lots of factors in play, it’s always best to put the theory to the test.
Some random controlled interventional trials in 1962 revealed that bean consumption has a significant effect in the reduction of cholesterol levels. The experiment involved measuring the participants’ cholesterol levels which would serve as the baseline, introducing beans to their diet, and, finally, removing those beans from their diet once again.
Beans contain high amount of plant protein, potassium, and fibre, but have low glycemic index and very little saturated fat, all of which have profound effects in lowering the blood pressure. But there isn’t enough evidence to prove that beans alone can optimise blood pressure levels. The researchers believed that there should be a systemic review and meta-analysis of controlled feeding experiments to prove the claims.
Results of the trials revealed that beans have the utmost capacity to lower blood pressure levels, regardless of the dietary and lifestyle changes you make.
Now we know that daily consumption of beans may be useful in preventing the onset of arterial diseases, but can it also reverse the process? Can it reverse vascular impairment that is triggered by peripheral arterial diseases?
Soy may be able to help with peripheral artery diseases that resulted from a decrease in the flow of blood to the legs due to the heavy buildup of atherosclerotic plaque. What about other types of beans? Is the effect the same?
One study set out to determine just that. The trial included 26 individuals diagnosed with peripheral artery disease. They were asked to consume a daily serving of a combination of lentils, chickpeas, split peas, and beans for eight weeks.
To determine the effects of the trial, the researchers used the ankle-brachial index – a ratio between the pressure at the participants’ ankles and their arms. If it falls below 9, it suggests a presence of a clog in the lower extremities. But with the daily intake of beans, the ankle-brachial index of 4 of the 26 participants tend improved! By the end of eight weeks, their numbers were within a normal range! Although, there wasn’t a control group, we all know that when people are diagnosed with Heart Disease, their condition seldom improves, and in most cases worsens. The researchers of the said trials concluded that a diet rich in legumes can significantly improve arterial function.
Poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle are among the major culprits behind the occurrence of various life-threatening conditions nowadays. If you are thinking of making a major leap towards health and wellness, then legumes should get a spot on your checklist. They aren’t just cheap, they also are also incredibly nutritious!
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