Black Beans

Phaseolus vulgaris

Herbs gallery - Black Beans

Black beans (biological name Phaseolus vulgaris) are legumes and are also known as "turtle beans" in English, while they are known as frijoles negros in Spanish. In North American diets, this legume has been a staple for long time.

The texture of black beans is satisfying, while their flavour in placidly sweet. What is more important is that black beans possess several nutrients, including numerous vitamins, and are incredibly healthy for us. At the same time, they enclose very few sugar and fat.

Black beans are indigenous to South, North as well as Central America. The origins of black beans have been traced to various places in Mexico and also El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras and Guatemala. On the other hand, the origin of black beans has been traced to the countries that are presently known as Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Columbia and Peru in South America. In present times, cultivation of black bean is not limited to South, North and Central America, but it is cultivated in various regions of the world. In fact, these days, people across the globe cultivate as well as enjoy black beans in a variety of cuisines.

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Vegetarians have a preference for black beans because they are able to get a wholesome protein meal when these legumes are combined with brown rice. The most common problem faced by vegetarians is obtaining the amount of proteins from their diet that is necessary for the body to function properly. In this case, a combination of brown rice and black beans is a perfect as well as inexpensive diet that supplies the body with the required amounts of proteins.

Health benefits

Since black beans are loaded with multi-vitamins and several nutrients, they offer us numerous health benefits. Black beans contain dietary fiber, antioxidants, carbohydrates and proteins making them nutritionally very potent. It is important to note that taking a diet that is rich in black beans regularly can help in diminishing the chances of developing many serious health issues. At the same time, they are capable of helping the body in processing the ingested calories more efficiently.

Different from several other foods that are loaded with carbohydrates, consuming black beans does not result in blood sugar spike. Findings of some studies have shown just the opposite happens. In fact, when you eat black beans with rice, this meal has a tendency to lower the blood sugar levels compared to when you just consume rice. Therefore, adding black beans to their diet is a healthy option for people suffering from diabetes, as it not only helps to keep the blood sugar levels within control, but also reduces the chances of developing heart disease.

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Black beans are rich in antioxidant content, which are capable of helping in protecting your eyes from the age-related cataracts and macular degeneration. Findings of a major research undertaken by the National Eye Institute revealed that when people who are very vulnerable to advanced macular degeneration consumed elevated doses of antioxidants, their condition was reduced by at least 25 percent. In addition, antioxidants also helped to lessen vision loss by 19 percent in the same group of people with high risk of advanced macular degeneration.

Aside from carbohydrates and antioxidants, black beans are especially rich in vitamin C content. Findings of several studies have shown that vitamin C is effective in lessening the chances of developing cataracts. In case, you have developed cataracts from before, taking foods rich in vitamin C can help to inhibit the growth of cataracts and maybe even delay the need for undergoing a surgery.

Incorporating black beans in your diet on a regular basis also helps your body to metabolize fats better. In fact, this is one of the major health benefits of eating black beans. Several studies have concentrated on the external surface of black beans (which are known as their "seed coat") as well as two categories of phytonutrients - flavonoids and saponins present in it. As far as the flavonoid category is concerned, these studies have particularly focused on quercetin, myricetin and kaempferol. On the other hand, in the saponin category, the researchers focused on soyasaponins and phaseoside I. Multiple studies undertaken in this regard have shown two trends so far in the laboratory as well as animal states of the studies.

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Firstly, it has been found that the phytonutrients in black beans seem to block the appearance of genes which would otherwise lead to the production of enzymes that are meant to enhance the fat levels in our bloodstream. Secondly, phytonutrients in black beans also seem to encourage the expression of genes which produce certain enzymes for the purpose of "reverse cholesterol transport". Precisely speaking, this means that the phytonutrients present in black beans work to transport cholesterol back to the liver from the different location in our body. This, in turn, removes some cholesterol from circulation, while reducing the presence of cholesterol in our bloodstream. As of date, no large-scale study has been undertaken on humans to corroborate this health benefit of consuming black beans, several major studies have already been undertaken on humans and these show that black beans have a common propensity to improve the overall fat metabolism. This is especially true when you incorporate black beans in your everyday meal plan.

Incorporating black beans in your daily or weekly diet offers several health benefits and one of them is owing to the high content of dietary fiber in them. Black beans have a very high concentration of soluble fiber. It has been proved that soluble fiber aids in reducing the levels of "bad" or LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream. During the digestive process, soluble fiber draws water and changes it into a gel. On the other hand, insoluble fiber helps to add mass to ingested foods, thereby helping it to move through the digestive system more smoothly and faster. When the level of bad cholesterol is reduced in the bloodstream it helps to avoid formation of plaques on the arterial walls. This, in turn, can help in preventing strokes and heart attacks.

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In addition to the above mentioned nutrients, black beans also enclose some amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which are actually "good" or HDL cholesterol and helps in counteracting the effects of omega-6 fatty acids, which are also known as "bad" cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-hypertensive actions. In other words, they are able to help in improving blood circulation, lowering high blood pressure and, at the same time, exert less pressure or oxidative stress on our cardiovascular system.

It has been seen that black beans also helps to lower the chances of developing specific forms of cancer owing to the presence of flavonoids in their seed coat or the outer surface of the beans. In fact, eight different types of flavonoids have been found in the seed coat of black beans and three among them are anthocyanins. Basically, flavonoids are phytonutrients that produce color, which are known as phytonutrient pigments. These phytonutrient pigments serve as antioxidants in our body and they aid in combating diseases as well as the detrimental free radicals, which are responsible for many of our health problems.

There are various forms of beans, such as red, black and speckled. These varieties of beans have been found to be more bioactive compared to the non-pigmented beans. In addition, the colored beans also possess antioxidant properties and anti-proliferative effects.

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Incorporating black beans in your regular diet is a wonderful way of getting relief from various digestive problems, as they enclose elevated levels of protein as well as dietary fiber. These attributes of black beans make them a "super food". Both protein and dietary fiber helps the ingested food to move more smoothly as well as faster inside the digestive tract. This helps the body to get rid of the waste products in a healthy manner. In addition, it takes more time to digest black beans compared to meat, which contains the same level of protein. Therefore, eating black beans can help you to feel satiated for a longer time and not crave for food frequently.

Compared to other varieties of beans, black beans are smaller in size. This is one reason why most people prefer them and also find them easier to digest. If you consume black beans for a prolonged period of time by including them in your regular diet, the soluble fiber present in them will attract water from your stool, thereby helping in reducing constipation.

Findings of several studies have shown that black beans contain elevated levels of molybdenum - a rare mineral which is seldom found in foods. Molybdenum is vital for our body for several reasons. It is mainly important because this mineral has the ability to break down as well as detoxify sulfites. Precisely speaking, sulfites are basically acidic compounds that are present in some vegetables, dried fruits and wines. Many people are extremely sensitive to the effects of sulfites, as they can result in headaches as well as disorientation in several people. The molybdenum present in black beans works to neutralize these negative effects of sulfites so that people can relish those foods. In addition, molybdenum helps in generating energy inside the cells of our body. At the same time, this rare mineral promotes the development of our nervous system.

In addition to the above mentioned health benefits of molybdenum, it has been found that this rare mineral helps to reduce erectile dysfunction and impotence especially in older men. This is true when molybdenum is consumed regularly. Molybdenum has often been associated with enhanced energy and libido (more interest in sexual activities), especially in older men.

As discussed above, black beans also have the ability to augment the nervous system's functioning by providing the much needed amino acids and molybdenum. Black beans also enclose rich amounts of folate (vitamin B9), which is also known as folic acid. Folate plays a vital role in regulating particular amino acids that are necessary for our nervous system. Several studies have revealed that any deficiency of dietary folate often results in increased levels of homocysteine. When the homocysteine levels in the body are high it may be a precarious forerunner of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease. Including black beans in your diet on a regular basis will help in supplying your body with the essential folate and increase the levels of this vitamin in your body, thereby lowering the chances of developing neurodegenerative diseases.

Folate offers other health benefits too. Present in high concentration in black beans, folate plays an important role in pregnant women, as it saves the infants in the womb from harms. Elevated levels of folate (vitamin B9) in a woman's body are important for the normal as well as healthy growth of the fetus. This is especially true vis-à-vis the fetus' brain and spinal cord development. Therefore, it is highly recommended that pregnant women should include black beans in their routine diet.

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