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Why You Should Eat More Beans

By Larraine Roulston:

When we enjoy more plant-based foods on our dinner plates, not only will we become healthier, but also our action will have a positive impact on the planet.For centuries, beans have been an important part of our diet.

Beans and other legumes, such as chick peas and lentils, are associated with living a longer life. Regarding this magical food, in 2017 Michelle McMacken, M.D. wrote in Forks Over Knives, that beans are “the most important dietary predictor of longevity in people of different ethnicities.”

The Bean Institute notes that “Beans’ unique composition of fiber, as well as important micronutrients and antioxidants, makes them an important food choice for many reasons, including their possible anticancer properties for certain types of cancer, including colorectal, breast, and prostate.”

 Devouring beans at least four times a week confers a 22% lower risk of coronary heart disease. Studies also report lower blood pressure and a reduction of the LDL (bad) cholesterol by 5%.

 Since beans contain vitamins, minerals and fiber, the American Diabetes Foundation refers to them as a “diabetes superfood.” Their consumption helps prevent Type 2 diabetes. As well, a diet of beans improves blood sugar control for those already with this condition.

 If you wish to lose excess weightaccumulated from eating holiday chocolates, include more legumes to help.

Besides being versatile and easy on the budget, they are quite delicious and can be incorporated into many different recipes. Sprouted beans can be added to smoothies and salads. Beans have a long shelf life, which results in minimal waste. See how here four different ways to cook dried beans from scratch. Stocking your pantry with a few BPA-free cans of beans is an option for an easy meal.

 Legumes contain between 21- 25% protein by weight. As they also are rich in iron, fiber, and are an effective antioxidant, the U.S. government’s guidelines consider beans to be an excellent alternative to meat. If, however, you are not accustomed to eating legumes, it is advisable to start slowly to allow your body to adjust gradually.

 Researchers from four American universities explained that continually  choosing to eat beef results in more greenhouse gases (GHG) being released into the atmosphere, whereas the production of beans results in only one-fortieth the amount. Loma Linda University researcher Helen Harwatt, PhD headed the team and suggested that changing eating habits would have a substantially positive impact. By 2020, the U.S. would, in fact, decrease targeted greenhouse gas emissions by 50 – 75%. Her 10-page report entitled “Substituting beans for beef as a contribution towards U.S. climate change targets” is found online. Harwatt stated, “Given the novelty, we would expect that the study will be useful in demonstrating just how much of an impact changes in food production can make and increase the utility of such options in climate-change policy.”

 Until the current U.S. administration recognizes climate change and puts combative policies into action, everyday citizens can make a simple dietary change that will offer health benefits and at the same time help save our planet.

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 Larraine writes children’s adventure books on composting and pollinating. Visit, www.castlecompost.com

About Larraine Roulston

A mother of 4 with 6 wonderful grandchildren, Larraine has been active in the environmental movement since the early l970s. When the first blue boxes for recycling were launched in her region, she began writing a local weekly newspaper column to promote the 3Rs. Since that time, she has been a freelance writer for several publications, including BioCycle magazine. As a composting advocate, Larraine authors children's adventure stories that combine composting facts with literature. Currently she is working on the 6th book of her Pee Wee at Castle Compost series, which can be viewed at www.castlecompost.com. As well, Larraine and her husband Pete have built a straw bale home and live in Ontario.

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