Do you immediately think of beans for heart disease? Probably more exotic or expensive foods might come to your mind first. Once you've read this page you'll be able to understand what are some of the amazing compounds present in beans that can actually give you a protection against heart disease.
First of all, there seems to be no doubt that a major contributor to heart disease is over consumption of saturated fats.
And you certainly know that meat, and especially red meat, has a very high fat content.
So, can you imagine what it would happen if you substituted 90% of the red meat you eat with legumes? You would still get the proteins you need, minus a lot of saturated fat.
In fact, pulses have a total fat content between 3 and 37%, depending on the types - of which 85 percent is unsaturated fat and only 15% is saturated - compared to 80% in beef.
All varieties of pulses can contribute to the health of your heart also because they contain folic acid and vitamin B6. If you are deficient in folic acid you might experience an increase in homocysteine, an intermediate in the conversion of the amino acid methionine to cysteine.
Homocysteine, most likely promotes atherosclerosis by directly damaging the arteries and reducing the integrity of the vessel wall. Folic acid and B6 help lower homocysteine and they convert it back to methionine, which doesn't damage arteries.
Elevated homocysteine levels are independent risk factors for developing a heart attack, stroke or peripheral vascular disease. Elevation in homocysteine are found in approximately 20 to 40% of patients with heart disease.
It has been estimated that folic acid supplementation (400 micrograms daily) alone would reduce the numbers of heart attacks suffered each year by 10%. It is even more effective if vitamin B6 and B12 are added.
This is why beans, with their high content of folate and vitamin B6, are so good for your heart and it makes sense to include them in your diet.
Folic acid content of different pulses, in micrograms per 3 1/2 ounces or 100 g. serving:
Legumes are also very high in fibre. Fibre helps reduce blood levels of cholesterol and contributes to maintaining a healthful weight, and both of these factors can help reduce your risk of heart disease or manage an existing heart condition.
The soluble fibre in beans helps lower blood cholesterol levels, one of the main risk factors for the development of cardiovascular disease. Just one cup of cooked beans can provide as much as 15 grams of dietary fibre, more than half the Daily Value.
Read more about Soluble and Insoluble Fibre.
Another reason why you should eat beans for heart disease is that they are rich in magnesium. Magnesium deficiency may predispose some people to serious, even deadly heart arrhythmias - skipped, irregular and abnormally fast heart beats or atrial fibrillation.
In a British study, taking magnesium daily for six weeks reduced arrhythmias by 25 to 50%. In another study, women skimping on magnesium developed irregular heartbeats within three months. Magnesium supplements corrected the abnormality.
Also, high blood magnesium cuts your
odds of dying from common ischemic heart disease (blocked or narrowed
arteries) by one-third, researchers say. Other research shows that
magnesium shortages lower good HDL cholesterol and accelerate
atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
As you can see, there are a lot of reasons why it's good to eat beans for heart disease.
Are you thinking that it takes too long to cook beans from scratch? That shouldn't stop you from enjoying their health benefits.
An excellent idea would be to keep a variety of good quality canned beans at hand and add them to your various recipes, such as stews, soups, pasta dishes, stir-fries and anywhere else, for that matter.
I always buy different types of tinned beans from Goodness Direct to keep in my cupboard. Have a look at the huge selection they have.
There's much more to beans' healing power than treating and preventing heart disease. Read more about them in these other related articles:
Or click on the NEXT button to see the next healing food for heart disease in this series.
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Even more effective than fish oil in preventing Heart Disease!