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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 May 22, 2019

            10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

            10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

            There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

            One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

            In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

            Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

            1. Cat Camel Stretch

            Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

            Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

            Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

            Here’s a video to guide you through:

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            2. Go for a Walk or a Run

            This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

            Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

            The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

            Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

            Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

            3. Jumping Jacks

            Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

            Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

            4. Abductor Side Lifts

            Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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            Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

            5. Balancing Table Pose

            This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

            Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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              6. Leg Squats

              Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

              Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

              The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

              7. Push Ups

              You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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              An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

              Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

              This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

              8. Bicycle Crunches

              There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

              Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

              9. Lunges

              Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

              Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

              This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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              10. Bicep Curls

              You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

              Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

              Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

              Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

              Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

              These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

              You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

              Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

              More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

              Reference

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