Beans reduce the risk of cancer

Beans provide us with larger amounts of dietary fibers than any other vegetable. A single serving of beans accounts for 20% of the recommended daily requirement of fiber. But beans can do much more. They have a variety of health-promoting properties. Particularly in cancer prevention, the consumption of beans is highly recommended.

Large study on colon cancer

Japanese researchers conducted a seven-year study. They examined more than 43.000 people aged 40 to 79. All of them were at high risk of contracting cancer and all of them consumed very little amounts of fiber. The more dietary fibers the study participants consumed by eating beans, the lower their risk of developing colon cancer became. This was especially true among the participating men. The study showed that the dietary fibers from the beans had a greater impact on the statistics than any other fiber source.

Beans have an anti-carcinogenic effect

Other researches also suggest that the fiber in bean plants, such as the chickpea, prevents the body from absorbing carcinogens (cancer-causing substances). The fewer carcinogens you absorb, the more your body is protected from damage done to your cells, body tissues and organs. This in turn reduces the risk of cancer.

Beans contain antioxidants that naturally fight free radicals. Free radicals destroy cell tissues through the process of oxidation, weakening the immune system, and consequently this can lead to the development of cancer. However, the antioxidants neutralize the free radicals before any devastating damage is done.

Beans – a powerful antioxidant

Greek researchers tested the extracts of eleven different legumes – beans are also legumes! – and found that all tested extracts were able to neutralize free radicals. Not only that! Most of them were also able to protect the human DNA, our genetic material, from oxidative damage. This alone could explain why beans have such great anti-cancer potential.

Beans as breast cancer prophylaxis

To what extent can beans prevent the development of breast cancer in women?In a study involving 90.000 young female nurses, those who ate beans or lentils at least twice a week showed the lowest risk of developing breast cancer. The experts assumed that the flavonoids – these substances are also phytochemicals – block the free radicals, thereby protecting the bodily cells from oxidative damage and ultimately exterminating cancer cells. Eat beans or lentils at least twice a week to prevent yourself from developing breast cancer.

Fiber reduces the risk of colon cancer

Beans contain a lot of fiber that accumulates in the intestine and is fermented by the bacteria situated there. The fermentation process creates a substance that acts as an anti-inflammatory and fights abnormal cell growths that can lead to cancer. In addition, these indigestible fibers in the beans ensure that beans have a very low glycemic index value. This Glycemic Index (GI) value tells you how fast your blood sugar level rises after eating a specific food. High GI foods cause the blood sugar level to rise rapidly, whilst low GI foods, such as beans, equalize this rise at a slower pace. An important quality of low-GI foods is that their consumption correlates to a lower risk of developing colon cancer. Another study examined patients who had previously had polyps removed from their colon. Within this study they changed their diet and were given increased amounts of cooked beans to eat. This resulted in a 65% decrease in the risk of redeveloping polyps.

Beans supply folic acid

Another important substance for the prevention of cancer is the folic acid found in B vitamins.Again, beans are an excellent nutritional source. The consumption of folic acid-rich foods reduces the risk of pancreatic and colon cancer. Furthermore, folic acid helps build and repair our DNA. Consuming very low levels of folic acid can lead to genetic damage. Nonetheless, folic acids should only be consumed in their natural form – through nutrition. Scientific studies have suggested that folic acid supplements may be more cancer-causing rather than cancer-preventing.

Beans against prostate cancer

Every type of bean has a positive effect on your health. Baked beans, kidney beans, white beans, black beans, chickpeas or lima beans; they all reduce the risk of colon cancer. Incidentally, the more legumes men consume, the lower their risk is of contracting prostate cancer. Several studies have shown that eating large quantities of legumes, including beans, lentils and peas, can reduce the risk of prostate cancer. If one also gives up consuming any form of meat, these percentages increase even further.

Beans and type 2 diabetes

As mentioned previously, legumes such as beans have a very low glycemic index (GI) value. There are several studies showing that a diet based on high GI foods nearly doubles the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In addition, this diet increases the risk of developing heart disease. High GI foods cause a sharp rise in the blood sugar, which instigates the pancreas to release more insulin. If the diet predominantly consists of foods with a high GI – very common nowadays – the functionality of the pancreas becomes increasingly weaker. The production of insulin is decreasing and ultimately leads to diabetes.

Beans support weight loss

Even when you consume beans, and therefore calories, you will not gain a lot of mass, thus still losing weight. Beans not only keep you slim, but they also provide high levels of fiber and potassium, while at the same time being low in fat and carbohydrates. Additionally, beans are an excellent source of protein that helps you maintain your ideal body weight.

Beans with high cholesterol

If your cholesterol levels are too high, you should consume half a cup of beans a day to reduce these levels. If you are otherwise healthy, this daily serving of beans will keep your cholesterol level low.

Beans in arteriosclerosis

The previously mentioned antioxidant effect of the bean also has a positive influence on the prevention of arteriosclerosis. The antioxidants fight the free radicals in the body before they can oxidize the body’s own cholesterol. Oxidized LDL cholesterol contributes to the development of atherosclerosis. In addition, certain flavonoids, which are also contained in beans, counteract the adhesion of platelets and fatty deposits in the arteries. This also prevents the development of arteriosclerosis. Highly recommended in this context are black beans, red kidney beans, pinto beans and lentils.

You see, beans are great foods that benefit our health in many ways.

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