Red kidney beans are among my favorite foods. As children, we would gather eagerly around the table to enjoy our lunch of rajma-chawal, kidney bean curry and rice. And now that I know of their tremendous health benefits, I make sure we cook them at least once a week. Numerous studies have established that the legume family offers amazing health benefits. Here is a glance at what you get from one cup of cooked kidney beans:
These delicious beans are a rich source of omega-3s, which reduce triglycerides, stabilize your heartbeat, make platelets “less sticky” and lower blood pressure. Omega-3s also boost levels of good cholesterol (HDL) and help clear your arteries.
They are among the richest sources of fiber, which helps lower cholesterol, prevents blood sugar from rising too soon after a meal, and aids digestion. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine confirms that eating high fiber foods, such as kidney beans, helps prevent heart disease. Almost 10,000 American adults participated in this study and were followed for 19 years. A 100 gram portion of cooked kidney beans contains 6.4 gram of fiber.
They contain essential folate (vitamin B9): Just one cup (177 grams) of cooked red kidney beans provides a third of the recommended daily intake for folate. Folate deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, coronary complications and stroke.
Kidney beans are a great source of protein: One cup of cooked kidney beans contains 15 grams of protein. Make these delicious beans a regular part of your diet, and you won’t need to worry about all of the harmful saturated and trans fats you get from animal-based foods.
Served with rice, they pack even more power: In India, as in many other cultures, beans are often eaten with rice. This combination is not only delicious, but very beneficial for health, since rice contains an amino acid that kidney beans are low in. Called lysine, this amino acid plays an essential role in the production of carnitine, a nutrient responsible for converting fatty acids into energy and helping lower cholesterol. According to scientists at the University of Maryland Medical Center, lysine also appears to help the body absorb calcium and helps in the formation of collagen, a substance important for bones and connective tissues including skin, tendons and cartilage.
Red kidney beans are exceptionally rich in flavonoids: In particular, they boast a flavonoid called proanthocyanidins, which are known to act as anti-cancer and anti-allergic agents, and play a role in improving heart health. According to an analysis conducted by USDA researcher Ronald Prior, red kidney beans contain even more of this phytochemical than blueberries, cranberries, and small red beans.
Kidney beans boost iron: Rich in iron, red kidney beans can increase your energy. They are better at this than red meat, which also contains iron but is high in cholesterol and fat. Particularly for menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency, boosting iron stores is essential.
They contain manganese: An essential mineral, manganese fights off free radicals and is required by the body for proper enzyme functioning, nutrient absorption, wound healing and bone development. Kidney beans are regularly listed among the top sources of manganese.
They protect against cancer: Numerous studies have found decreased risk of colorectal adenomas and cancers in those who consume beans and other legumes regularly.
According to Ayurvedic healers, beans help build all the seven types of dhatus or body tissue, especially muscle tissue, which makes them especially important for individuals on a vegetarian diet.
Worried about Gas?
- Beans contain some indigestible carbohydrates that cause gas. To break these carbs up, use this method: Rinse dry beans under running water, rubbing them between your fingers. Then boil them for 2 to 3 minutes (10 cups water for 1 cup beans). Leave the beans to soak in this water overnight in the refrigerator, then rinse them in the morning. After that, prepare the beans as you normally would.
- If you are not accustomed to eating beans, make sure to chew them very well to minimize gas and bloating. Start out with a small quantity and gradually increase the amount as your digestive tract adapts. Over time, you will build up the beneficial bacteria that help to digest beans.