Legumes are part of a healthy whole food diet
One of the best healthy diet tips I can give is to eat more legumes. As more studies are done and analyzed, it is becoming obvious that a whole food diet is the healthiest way to eat. Also obvious is the connection between eating more dried beans and living longer. Not just living longer, but staying healthy longer into old age.
This is good news for many reasons. Beans are readily available and they are cheap. The legume family is loaded with protein, minerals, vitamins and other nutrients. Dried beans contain very little fat and no cholesterol. A serving of cooked beans is full of health-promoting soluble and insoluble fiber.
Beans are easy to prepare. Soak them in water when you get up in the morning. Drain and rinse them in the afternoon. Cook in more water and they should be ready in just an hour or so. Use the cooking time for other chores or just to relax.
What about “Paleo”?
Lets address the “Paleo” diet first. Paleo is basically a whole food diet supposedly based on what our distant ancestors ate. Most versions of this diet exclude beans and grains. Paleo diets are also heavily biased towards meat as the main source of protein.
Understand that the paleo diet was made up out of thin air, just someone’s idea of what cavemen ate. There is no evidence that our ancestors ate this way. There is no scientific evidence that it is a healthy diet.
And excluding beans and grains never made any sense to me. Why in the world would hungry cavemen pass up the opportunity to eat a patch of ripe barley or peas? Why would they spend most of their time hunting meat when plants can’t run away? And why are so many people today willing to ignore all of the studies showing that the people eating the most legumes and whole grains are the same people that live the longest?
What about “anti-nutrients” in legumes?
Another group of people believe legumes are actively bad for us because they contain “anti-nutrients”. These anti-nutrients are compounds in dried beans that partially block calcium absorption, interfere with protein metabolism and don’t get digested until reaching the large intestine or colon. The key words here are “partially block”, “interfere with” and “until”.
If beans are properly soaked and cooked, the phytates and other compounds that prevent complete use of the available minerals and protein are almost totally eliminated. More recent studies strongly suggest that the complex sugars our stomach and small intestine can’t digest actually feed the good bacteria in our large intestine and help prevent colon cancer and other health problems.
Turn your body into a blue zone with legumes
Blue zones are areas of the planet where a high percentage of the population live to 100 years or older. They don’t just live longer but stay healthy, active and alert into their old age. Many scientific studies have been done of these areas to try to figure out what makes them different.
One consistent difference is the people of the blue zones eat more legumes than others. This is not the only difference, but most people living to a healthy old age eat dried beans daily. This kind of evidence is very difficult to argue with. Beans are cheap and beans are easy to prepare. Why would we not eat more of them?
Adding more legumes to a healthy whole food diet is an easy way to turn your body into a personal blue zone. It is a proven way to increase your chances of avoiding the chronic diseases of aging: high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and others. Eating beans every day improves the odds of living a long and productive life.