Surely you remember the old childhood rhyme that begins “Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart . . . ” Well, beans are good for your heart. But these slow – acting foods, rich in complex carbohydrates, are also fantastic for your blood sugar and are surely one of the foods most deserving for your health.
All beans, canned or dried, from black to white and chickpeas to cannellini, can help both insulin and blood sugar levels thanks to their high soluble fiber content. In a recent study, men and women who ate a meal that included about 6 ounces (170 g) of chickpeas had 40 percent lower blood sugar an hour after eating than those who ate an equal amount of white bread with jam.
The soluble fiber in beans slows down digestion, leading to a slow, steady blood sugar rise rather than a spike. Beans also a pack loads of protein, don’t raise blood sugar and actually helps your body process the carbohydrates in a meal more efficiently. Are they the perfect food for people with diabetes? Perhaps. Just stick with ½ cup or so per meal, since beans do contain carbohydrate.
If you are trying to lose weight, eat beans! Not only are they incredibly filling, they also pack a heap of nutrition in a relatively low calorie package. Better still, some of the starch in beans is a type called resistant starch that the body can’t even digest, so the calories don’t count.
Beans are also full of folate, a B vitamin, that may help reduce some of the nasty consequences of diabetes by helping to keep arteries clean.
Dietary guidelines recommend eating at least 3 cups of beans a week, but most of us lag far behind: we don’t even average 1 cup per week. We would have to almost triple our current intake to meet the recommendations.
Health Bonus of Beans
Looking for antioxidants? Look no further. A recent study ranked beans among the top 10 foods richest in these healthy protectors. What’s more, the same soluble fiber in beans that helps stabilize blood sugar also helps lower cholesterol.
Silencing the Musical Fruit
Beans have the dubious distinction of being the musical fruit (translation: they give you gas). That’s because their rich in a specific type of carbohydrate that you can’t digest but that provides fodder for the bacteria that living in your intestinal tract. Gas is the by-product. It’s a big reason why people shy away from beans, but there’s no need to do without this blood sugar fixer upper. You can de-gas beans by soaking them. Short on time? Boil the beans in water for 2 minutes then remove from heat and let stand for 2 to 4 hours with a lid on. Or, if you have the luxury of planning ahead, soak them for at least 12 hours. After either method, drain, then rinse twice and cover with fresh cold water before cooking.
Another de-gassing option: Take Beano with meals containing beans. It’s a natural food enzyme that helps digest the gas producing compounds in beans and other foods.