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  • Larissa Spafford, NTP

Are beans healthy for you?

beans with cilantro

Are beans healthy? The answer to this question is the same for all whole foods. It depends on who’s eating them.

A food can nourish one person and cause problems for another. Why is this? Bio-individuality. We’re each unique. If we want to take control of our health to become our healthiest, we need to determine what does and doesn’t work for us specifically. It’s important to pay attention and listen to your body. How do you feel after you eat beans?

If you get a stomach ache, bloating or gas after eating beans, that’s a sign that right now, they're not the best option for you. It could be that if you work to improve your digestion, you’d be able to eat beans without problems.

Beans are a great source of fiber, which can feed beneficial microorganisms that inhabit your digestive tract. These microorganisms make vitamins, essential amino acids, short chain fatty acids, improve immune function, reduce inflammation, protect you from pathogens and more. They create byproducts that help absorb minerals, regulate metabolism and provide energy.

Each bean has a slightly different nutrient profile. Depending on the type, they’re good sources of the minerals molybdenum, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc and iron and vitamins folate and B1 and B6. They also provide protein (if your digestive system is working properly and you can break it down).

These are great reasons why beans are a healthy option for so many humans. Now for one of the reasons they can be a problem for some and some other things to consider...

Beans contain fermentable oligo-, di-. mono-saccharides and polyols or FODMAPs for short. For various reasons, that can often be resolved, some people have a hard time digesting FODMAPs. When they’re not digested properly they become food for microorganisms that can cause problems when they overgrow. This can cause gas and bloating among other things.

Another thing to consider is are the beans properly prepared? One reason some people avoid beans is because they contain anti-nutrients lectins and phytic acid. Luckily, soaking, cooking, sprouting and fermentation reduce or even eliminate lectins and phytic acid.

Whether beans are healthy or not also depends on what you’re eating with them. Just 1/2 cup of a popular brand of baked beans has 12 grams of sugar. That’s as much sugar as in 15 jelly bellies. And, do you really only eat 1/2 cup?

Another common way people eat beans is in hummus. Hummus can be a great option, but most commercially available brands use unhealthy types of oil like soy, canola and cottonseed, instead of a healthy oil like olive. That’s why making your own is a great option.

Eating delicious food is one of the greatest pleasures in life. It’s not supposed to hurt or make you feel awful. If this is happening to you, it could be

that the foods you’re eating aren’t right for you or your digestion is off or a combination of both. If you’d like help figuring it out, I’d love to work with you. You can choose the local or virtual service that works best for you here.

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