Kidney bean (aka common beans) is a highly nutritious variety of herbaceous plant that is very popular in countries like India, China, Brazil and America. In fact, the plant is considered as one of the major foundations of Native American agriculture and forms an important part of the cultural cuisine of the country. Kidney beans are classified under the botanical name, Phaseolus vulgaris and belong to the plant family Fabaceae. Originating from a common bean ancestor in Peru, the plant species was introduced first in the southern and central zones of America, by migrating Indian traders and later in Europe, by certain Spanish explorers, during the 15th century. Subsequently, Africa and Asia became acquainted with kidney beans, as a result of migrating traders from Spain and Portugal. Today, these edible beans are available in both dried and canned form and are associated with the prevention of a number of ailments and diseases. They are particularly known for their beneficial effects on the cardio-vascular system and digestive system. To help you know more about the diverse health benefits of kidney beans, certain pointers are given below in this article.
Health Benefits Of Eating Kidney Beans
- Being a major source of protein, kidney beans provide all the eight basic forms of amino acids or the eight essential amino acids. These amino acids act against a number of diseases and are important to maintain a healthy immune system. It is estimated that a single cup of uncooked beans provides around 85% of the daily protein requirement.
- Certain natural antioxidants (anthocyanins) present in these beans also have a number of beneficial health effects. Studies have revealed that the darker the color of the skin of the beans, the higher these antioxidants.
- The soluble fiber present in the kidney bean regulates the blood glucose absorption from the body. This is done by forming a gel-like substance, by absorbing water from the intestines. This gel-like substance slows down the metabolism of carbohydrates in the body, thereby regulating the blood sugar levels and preventing their sudden elevation after meals. Hence, it is essential for diabetics (insulin resistance) to consume kidney beans on a regular basis.
- The dietary fiber in these beans also helps lower the blood cholesterol levels in the body. This is achieved by the bonding of the fiber with the bile acids in the intestines. As the bile acids are used for the synthesis of cholesterol, their bonding with the dietary fibers results in lesser availability of the acids for the synthesis of cholesterol. Hence, the risk of certain diseases, like stroke, high blood pressure and coronary heart disease, is reduced to a considerable extent.
- A high source of certain nutrients involved in the process of detoxification, kidney beans reduce the risk of a number of inflammatory, degenerative and cardiovascular diseases and also help promote and maintain optimal health.
- As these beans prove to be a high source of iron, their regular intake helps in the process of respiration at the cellular level, by synthesizing hemoglobin to aid in the carriage of oxygen to the cells.
- Kidney beans also have considerable amount of the mineral molybdenum, which helps in the detoxification of sulfites from the blood.
- The copper present in these beans aids in the reduction of inflammatory conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). They also act as an important factor in promoting certain enzymatic activity that is required to maintain the normal elastic properties of ligaments, joints and blood vessels.
- The magnesium in kidney beans helps relieve fatigue by relaxing the muscles, nerves and blood vessels. This, in turn, prevents the adverse effects of conditions like asthma, muscle soreness, and migraine headaches.
- A prime effect of consuming kidney bean is prevention of conditions like stroke, heart attack and PVD (Peripheral Vascular Disease). This is done with the help of folic acid present in the plant. The folic acid lowers the levels of homocysteine (a potentially dangerous molecule), which is produced as a result of the metabolic process of methylation. Elevated levels of this molecule lead to the above mentioned harmful and life-threatening conditions.
- Kidney beans have considerable amount of the naturally occurring substance called purines. So, people suffering from purine-related conditions, like gout and kidney stones, should avoid excess consumption of kidney beans.
- Red kidney beans are high on phytohemagglutinin (another naturally occurring substance). High amounts of this can lead to the disruption of cellular metabolism, which can have very toxic and harmful effects.
- Prior to the process of washing and cooking beans, they should be checked thoroughly for the presence of any stones or damages. This can be done by spreading them on a light colored plate or a cooking surface. Once the stones and damaged beans have been removed, the beans have to be placed in a strainer and strained properly, under cool running water.
- To aid the process of digestion and reduce the cooking time, beans should be pre-soaked. This can be done by placing them in a saucepan containing 2 to 3 cups of water per cup of beans. After the process of pre-soaking, drain the liquid and rinse the beans with clean water.
- There are 2 methods of pre-soaking the beans. The first method involves boiling the beans for 2 minutes in the saucepan, taking them off from the heat and then allowing them to stand for 2 hours, after covering the pan. The second method involves simply soaking the beans in water for 8 to 10 hours, in the refrigerator.