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5 reasons legumes should be a regular part of your diet – OCRegister

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Beans, beans, the magical fruit. The more you eat, the more you … look good. And yet fewer than 8% of American adults eat legumes on any given day, despite the numerous health benefits from this hearty food. These foods can be eaten as part of a main dish or side dish, all while helping to prevent serious illnesses like heart disease and diabetes, and yet they keep getting snubbed from our dinner table entirely.

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Fortunately, you won’t have to do much to make room for these dinner guests. Legumes are a cheap and versatile addition to a meal, with options for a range of palates. From beans to peas and lentils, these nutritious foods have something to offer for everyone. Here are five reasons you should be eating more legumes.

Legumes are good for your heart

Not only can eating legumes lower the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes, but these foods may actually help treat heart disease as well. Studies have shown eating at least one cup of legumes every day could help people lose weight, improve cholesterol, and lower blood pressure. In some cases, people who ate legumes every day achieved lower cholesterol without medication.

Legumes make a good substitute for meat

Whether you are shunning meat for health reasons or ethical ones, legumes can provide an excellent substitute. Legumes are lower in fat and cholesterol but high in protein. Cooked beans, in particular, are high in folate, iron, fiber, and other important nutrients, making them perfect replacements for meat in meatballs or burgers.

Legumes are high in fiber

If you know anything about beans, you are probably aware they are high in fiber. A cup of beans can provide as much as half of the daily recommended amount of fiber for adults. Getting enough fiber can help keep your bowel movements regular and keep your digestive system healthy. A fiber-rich diet could also help prevent cancers of the digestive system.

Legumes have lots of antioxidants

A surprising benefit of eating legumes is the amount of antioxidants they provide. Antioxidants fight free radicals in the body, which can cause disease. Many plants are high in antioxidants, and legumes are one of the best sources. Some beans, like red beans and red kidney beans, have more than 13,000 antioxidants per serving.

Legumes can help prevent diabetes

Eating more plants and fewer processed foods is often recommended to lower the risk of diabetes. In one study, a diet high in legumes helped reduce A1C and blood glucose levels, important indicators for the risk of developing diabetes. Eating legumes helped reduce the risk of diabetes and control the disease in people who already had it.

“Legumes are an excellent choice for people with diabetes because they help control blood sugar levels,” said Jill Fujimoto, registered dietician at Newport Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. “Many legumes are a low glycemic index food, which means they are broken down by the body more slowly and cause a slower rise in blood glucose.”

Your mom might not be here to force you to eat your legumes, but she shouldn’t have to. They’re good for your heart, easy to substitute, high in fiber and antioxidants, and help prevent diabetes. So stop snubbing them and invite legumes to the table.

Amy Osmond Cook is the host of Good Day Orange County and the founder of the Association of Skilled Nursing Providers. She is a healthcare consultant and VP of marketing at Simplus, a Platinum Salesforce partner. 

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