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Four Little Known Nutrition Facts About Beans

Beans are a great source of plant protein, complex carbohydrates, fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals. And, studies have shown that eating a daily serving of beans may help lower your cholesterol, improve your blood pressure and prevent cancer. As a matter of fact, IP6, a bean extract, is currently being studied as a possible medicine to fight cancer. But, beans can provide you with so many more benefits. Here are four things that make beans great.

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Some beans contain the ingredient resveratrol. This is what is found in red wine and is what many believe prevents the DNA damage that leads to aging. Black beans and lentils contain resveratrol in amounts similar to that found in red wine.

Weight Management

Beans are a good source of protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber, which help to stabilize blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels are kept more consistent, the pancreas releases less insulin. Since insulin helps to promote fat storage, the more you have being the released, the greater the chances your body will store excess fat, which is why it is so important to avoid elevated blood sugar level and/or spikes and valleys. In addition, the high fiber, an indigestible component, helps to fill you up so are less likely to snack.

Antioxidant Power

It is known that free radicals may damage your skin, brain and immune system and that antioxidants found in many fruits and vegetables can prevent this damage. But it's not just blueberries and Brussels sprouts that contain antioxidants. Some beans have as much antioxidants as the well-known favorites. And, they contain a unique antioxidant that can block two enzymes that have been shown to contribute to weight gain and diabetes.

Fungus Fighters

There are foods and medications that we eat and take everyday that can lead to the formation of intestinal yeast, which can weaken your immune system and make toxins that will cause inflammation. Beans have not only been shown to kill the fungus, but they may prevent yeast infections all together.

Beans aren't just for vegetarians, and they are easy to incorporate into your meals. Beans are one of the most versatile and healthy foods available, so try throwing some chickpeas on your salad or make a black bean spread for a sandwich and enjoy the benefits of beans.

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Joanne Perez, MS, RDN, LD is a Savannah-based dietitian who, after 20 years of food service and clinical dietetics, made the switch to nutrition communications and all things tech. She doesn't believe in diets and thinks that life is too short to be anything but happy and healthy at any weight. Read her blog, Real Bite Nutrition, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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