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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 July 10, 2020

            How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

            How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

            We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

            We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

            So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

            Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

            What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

            Boundaries are limits

            —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

            Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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            Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

            Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

            Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

            How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

            Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

            1. Self-Awareness Comes First

            Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

            You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

            To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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            You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

            • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
            • When do you feel disrespected?
            • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
            • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
            • When do you want to be alone?
            • How much space do you need?

            You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

            2. Clear Communication Is Essential

            Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

            Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

            3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

            Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

            That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

            Sample language:

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            • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
            • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
            • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
            • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
            • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
            • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
            • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

            Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

            4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

            Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

            Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

            Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

            We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

            It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

            It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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            Final Thoughts

            Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

            Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

            Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

            The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

            Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

            Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

            They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

            Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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