Most of us know that black beans are healthy, but what do they actually do for us?
While black beans are extremely common in western culture, they are often overlooked as being a superfood and stand in the shadows while foods like Kale and Acai steal the spotlight. However, next time you stop by the grocery store, you may want to add them to your list, and here's why! In addition to being incredibly high in protein, black beans are packed with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that keep you feeling full and increase your absorption of nutrients all while decreasing cancer risk and keeping your blood sugar levels stable.
One of the most common root problems that we experience in the western diet is chronic inflammation, originating in the gastrointestinal tract. Chronic inflammation, labeled as the "silent killer", is linked deteriorating gut health and malabsorption of nutrients from the small intestine into the bloodstream, leading to a multitude of other ailments. Proper gut health is crucial to sustaining overall body health and wellbeing.
Think of it as a chain reaction. Brain health and gut health go hand in hand. When we consume inflammatory foods, such as dairy and gluten, or experience high levels of negative emotions, such as stress, our bodies exhibit an inflammatory response. When these triggers happen consistently, the inflammatory response can lead to chronic inflammation in our gut and throughout our bodies. Chronic inflammation can lead to imbalances in the gut, causing ailments such as Leaky Gut Syndrome, and an overgrowth of yeast or bad bacteria within the gut. Imbalances in the gut can lead to many chronic diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and even mental illness like depression and anxiety, to name a few.
When there is a presence of inflammation within the body, there is an increased level of tissue-damaging free radicals. Antioxidants, which are found in high levels in black beans, have an ability to reduce the activity of these free radicals, thus helping to reduce the damage caused by silent inflammation.
Along with antioxidants, black beans are high in fiber, and there are a number of avenues in which fiber may help to reduce inflammation.
First, the soluble fiber in beans slows digestion and helps the body better absorb nutrients from food. Diets high in fiber are also known to promote healthy bacteria in the gut, make you feel full, and have even been found to reduce levels of CRP (C-reactive protein), a marker of inflammation, in the body.
Black beans will also help to prevent overeating. The starches found in black beans are almost like an energy time release. Simple carbohydrates lead to sugar highs and lows. These spikes and dips cause chronic stress and low energy levels, leading to inflammation from the body’s stress response, along with the likelihood to crave and eat less healthy foods. Unlike simple carbohydrates, the starches found in black beans will help you to feel satisfied for longer after eating. This reduces your likelihood to snack needlessly or heed to temptations and cravings throughout the day.
With all of the incredible benefits of black beans comes one small hinderance. Black beans are an amylase inhibitor, meaning that they slow down the absorption of protein. While this can be beneficial in keeping you satiated, you may be familiar with the reputation of beans to cause bloating and gas. The best way to get around this hurdle is to eat fast digesting fruits and veggies before you consume beans, which digest more slowly. This will help you avoid that bloated feeling while taking advantage of that slow digestion to absorb more nutrients and clean out your digestive tract.
Between their rich nutrients, strong antioxidants and fiber content, there are many benefits to eating black beans. Some of our favorite ways to incorporate them are by adding them into soups, making a black bean salad, or even enjoying them with your morning eggs! Do you have a unique way to eat black beans? Let us know!
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- Cooked navy and black bean diets improve biomarkers of colon health and reduce inflammation during colitis. http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=%2FBJN%2FBJN111_09%2FS0007114513004352a.pdf&code=af932ab63fb12ed9ad870197ef071dd8
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