Love ’em or hate ’em, beans have it going on for your health. Even those that don’t tolerate them well, would be at least wise to give them a few different tries. Beans can be hard to digest, but they are beneficial to your health, should you tolerate them. One reason they’re so highly prized on a plant-based diet isn’t just because they’re rich in fiber (truly an all-star nutrient for your health), but also high in minerals and other components that promote good bone health. For those concerned with bone loss or osteoporosis, you’ll want to give the humble bean a bit more attention in your diet. They can help keep your body strong and provide a high dose of benefits within a small serving..
Here’s exactly what beans have to offer your bones:
Beans are a good source of this important, well-known bone building mineral. Calcium not only helps build your bones by strengthening bone mass, but it also prevent bones loss, reduces anxiety and can help you sleep. While there are many plant-based sources of calcium, beans stand out above some others. White beans (cannellini, navy, or northern) are especially high in calcium, as well as whole soybeans (and even tofu). Adzuki beans are also a good source and some types like black bean and pinto will still provide some, just not as much as white beans. Go for 1/2 cup beans per day and be sure to eat other foods rich in calcium such as leafy greens (hello collards!), kale, almonds, dried figs, chia, and fortified non-dairy milks.
Magnesium also supports strong bones and prevents bone loss. It even reduces anxiety, can help regularity and also assists with sleep and overall mood and energy. Beans and legumes (and most all plant-based foods) are excellent sources of magnesium. Choose foods over supplements first to benefit your body the most. Beans are one of the highest sources of magnesium out there, along with grains and greens. Get a variety of these foods into your diet every single day if possible. To make some of you really happy, cacao beans (and even organic coffee beans) are two of the highest source of magnesium known in such a small serving, so even sneak a raw cacao bean or some raw cacao powder into your morning smoothie if you can and don’t beat yourself up over that one or two cups of Joe per day!
Potassium is help needed for optimal water balance but also needed to keep your bones and joints healthy too. Beans are a wealth of potassium, which can help reduce blood pressure as a side bonus. All plant-based foods are high in potassium, however beans, fresh fruits, and most vegetables offer the best sources.
4. Phytates- Something You Didn’t Expect
Many people soak beans, nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes, because these foods contain natural phytates, which are a part of plants that protect plants in nature, but are thought to be hard to digest and prevent enzyme absorption in the body. However, when you think about it, nature created this natural component in these foods for a reason. They are actually not as harmful as many people might believe. Phytates may actually benefit your bones and have been shown to reduce the fractures in people with bone loss. Michael Greger from NutritionFacts.org, also showcased a study with phytates and beans that show us we might not need to soak and sprout all the time. If you find beans hard to digest, then just soak them overnight and cook the next day or cook them in a slow-cooker or pressure cooker instead.
And of course, let’s not forget the almighty protein, which is found abundantly in all types of beans. Some of the tastiest (and easiest to digest) include chickpeas, lentils, edamame, mung beans, and adzuki beans. Experiment with all beans and see which ones you enjoy the most. Protein is important not just for keeping your muscles strong, but providing optimal support for your bones to prevent fractures and bone loss.
Also keep in mind that Vitamin K and Vitamin D are important for your bone health. Be sure to take a Vitamin D3 supplement (plant-based) as well as get enough Vitamin K in your diet.
Also see some of our favorite bean recipes:
- Sprouted Mung Bean Salad
- Goji Millet Tabouleh
- Healthy Vegan Chili
- Walnut Lentil Burgers
- Mexican Flavored Bean Burgers
And see 10 Ways to Cook Beans With Global Flavors and more bean and legume recipes here.
Lead Image Source: Sprouted Mung Bean Salad
It is interesting to note that certain ethnic groups have realized the value of beans for ages.
For example, my Cuba born Wife has enjoyed black beans everyday throughout her life.
This makes it easier to me to remain Vegetarian, and kept my choices ever evolving.
The longest-lived, most disease-free communities on earth eat beans every day, and little or no meat, according to The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner.