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The Health Benefits of Black Beans + Five Great Recipes

The Health Benefits of Black Beans + Five Great Recipes

If you’re a fan of Cuban cuisine, you probably don’t need to be told that dishes like black beans and rice are some of the tastiest comfort foods you can treat yourself to. But did you know that these dishes are also incredibly good for you? Black beans have been grown and eaten in Central and South America for thousands of years—and with their popularity growing in the U.S., Europe, and other parts of the world, you can reap their health benefits, too. And some of them might surprise you!

Black Beans Are a Great Source of Vegetarian Protein

Black beans, like other beans, are great for people following a vegetarian or vegan diet. These diets, which are based mostly or entirely on plants, can often lack enough protein for the body to work at its best. However, when combined with whole grains like brown rice, black beans form a complete protein which will provide you with the amino acids which are needed to build and maintain lean muscle mass and are part of an overall healthy lifestyle.

Black Beans Promote Healthy Muscles, Bones, and Joints

Again, the protein that you find in black beans and other legumes is great for building muscle mass and helps you to do this without the saturated fat and extra calories of meat. It is also good for bones because it is high in calcium: as you age, a high-calcium diet can prevent diseases like osteoporosis, which lead to weakening of the bones and fractures. Lastly, because they contain omega-3 fatty acids, beans are able to help reduce inflammation throughout the body and help with conditions like arthritis, which cause joint pain and lack of mobility.

Black Beans Can Improve Your Digestion

Heartburn, upset stomach, constipation—these are common problems in any country where most people live off of processed foods that often are lacking in the fiber. Beans, however, are a great source of this important nutrient. Fiber is one of the best things for your digestive system: it “scrubs” out many toxins or other harmful substances and helps your body move food more easily through the digestive process, making it less likely that you will suffer from problems like constipation.

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Beans do have a reputation for giving people gas. However, if you start out with dry beans and soak them in water overnight, then throw that water out and cook them in fresh water, you will greatly reduce the potential for bloating and flatulence afterwards.

Black Beans Help Reduce Your Cancer Risk

Cancer remains a leading cause of death not only in the United States but throughout the world. However, some dietary choices can reduce your chance of developing this disease. Beans are an important part of an anti-cancer diet because of the fact that they contain 8 different kinds of flavonoids, which are plant compounds that studies have shown to reduce free radical damage that changes cells and makes cancer more likely. Also, because they are so high in fiber, beans can prevent the develop of colon cancer specifically.

Black Beans Are Heart Healthy

Everyone knows the schoolboy song about beans being good for your heart—but that actually turns out to be true. The soluble fiber in black beans has been associated with lowered cholesterol levels. Less cholesterol in your arteries means a reduced chance of a heart attack (as well as other serious events like a stroke). Studies have also shown that the omega-3 fatty acids in beans are associated with higher levels of healthy HDL cholesterol and can even slightly lower blood pressure. All of this is great for cardiac health.

Black Beans Are a Great Food for Moms-To-Be

There are a number of reasons why beans are such a great food for expecting mothers. To begin with, they are rich in folic acid which pregnant women need a lot of while their baby is developing. Getting enough of this important nutrient in your diet is the best way to prevent certain neural tube defects such as spina bifida, which can have serious consequences for your baby.

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And because beans are so high in fiber, they can also help ease the problems of constipation that pregnant women often suffer from due to the hormonal and physical changes taking place in their bodies as the baby grows.

Beans Help Prevent Deficiencies in Your Diet

If you’re like many people, your busy schedule makes it easy to say “yes” to a lot of processed or fast foods to make it through the day. While this can save a lot of time, it can also mean that your diet is lacking in a lot of important nutrients. These include not only fiber and protein, but minerals like manganese and calcium, antioxidant compounds like anthocyanins (one of the antioxidants that makes blueberries so healthy), and omega-3 fatty acids, which are associated with good heart health.

Black Beans Help Diabetics Control Their Blood Sugars

If you or someone you love is diabetic, you know how difficult it can be to keep blood sugar under control. Diet—along with proper medications—can make a big difference, and beans are highly recommended by organizations like the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

Why? Because they are so high in fiber, beans take a while to digest. This slower breakdown means that glucose is not released into the bloodstream all at once, and spikes in blood sugar levels are avoided.

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Black Beans Are Also Good for Your Brain

Black beans are particularly good for the health of your brain and nervous system. This is because they are a great source of a mineral called molybdenum, which can be hard to get enough of in your diet. It is, however, a mineral which is very important to the health of your nervous system and studies have shown that it can reduce your risk of neurological conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Black Beans Are Easy to Fit Into Your Diet!

If you would like to get more black beans into your diet, but aren’t sure how to prepare them, then here are 5 great and simple recipes to help start you out!

1. Black Bean Loaf

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    2. Pureed Black Bean Soup

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      3. Black Bean Chocolate Cake

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        4. Black Bean Burritos

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          5. Black Bean Enchiladas

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            So try one of these easy recipes today and start reaping all the health benefits these amazing black beans can bring!

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            Brian Wu

            Health Writer, Author

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            Last Updated on January 21, 2020

            The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

            The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

            Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

            your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

              Why You Need a Vision

              Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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              How to Create Your Life Vision

              Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

              What Do You Want?

              The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

              It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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              Some tips to guide you:

              • Remember to ask why you want certain things
              • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
              • Give yourself permission to dream.
              • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
              • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

              Some questions to start your exploration:

              • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
              • What would you like to have more of in your life?
              • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
              • What are your secret passions and dreams?
              • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
              • What do you want your relationships to be like?
              • What qualities would you like to develop?
              • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
              • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
              • What would you most like to accomplish?
              • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

              It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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              What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

              Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

              A few prompts to get you started:

              • What will you have accomplished already?
              • How will you feel about yourself?
              • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
              • What does your ideal day look like?
              • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
              • What would you be doing?
              • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
              • How are you dressed?
              • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
              • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
              • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

              It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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              Plan Backwards

              It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

              • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
              • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
              • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
              • What important actions would you have had to take?
              • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
              • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
              • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
              • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
              • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

              Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

              It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

              Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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