Black beans and their benefits
Beans are among the oldest foods known to man, forming an important part of our diet since ancient times.
The common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) began to be cultivated around 7000 B.C. in America and when the conquistadors from the Iberian Peninsula arrived in the New World, there were species of various sizes, colors and flavors, such as the very tasty black bean.
This legume stands out for being an excellent source of protein and fibre, as well as vitamins and minerals. However, the greatest health benefits of black beans are found in their high concentration of antioxidants.
- Antioxidant Properties
The antioxidant effect that we all wish to find in food is present in the bean, given the content of anthocyanins. These substances belong to the group of flavonoids, widely known for their power to inhibit free radicals.
Needless to say, free radicals are dangerous because they are unstable and highly reactive molecules, which when interacting with neighboring molecules, generate new radicals around them. This can create a chain reaction that becomes indefinite if antioxidants do not intervene.
It has been shown that the darker the bean cover, the higher the anthocyanin content, with the black bean variety having the highest concentration of such antioxidants. The anthocyanin content is approximately 214 mg per 100 g of black beans.
Thus, they provide natural antioxidants that help prevent cellular oxidative stress, responsible for diseases such as arteriosclerosis and inflammation, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, immune system problems, diabetes, eye disorders and many types of cancer.
- Anti-aging properties
The anti-aging effect of black beans is closely related to the antioxidant properties described above. The anthocyanins and other flavonoids present in black beans prevent the signs of premature aging caused by free radicals generated by exposing the skin to ultraviolet light.
Free radicals often cause the breakdown of collagen and elastin and can cause wrinkles, an effect that is reduced by the flavonoids present in beans.
- Detoxifying properties
These properties are given by the presence of molybdenum, which is a trace element necessary to form and activate several important enzymes in the detoxification of the human body. One of the enzymes favored by the presence of molybdenum is aldehyde oxidase, responsible for neutralizing acetaldehyde, which is a toxin that comes from the metabolism of several substances in our body and has carcinogenic properties.
Molybdenum also provides a detoxifying effect through the activation of the enzyme sulfite oxidase, which is responsible for converting sulphites (potentially harmful) into sulphates (harmless). The action of this enzyme helps to properly metabolize the amino acids methionine and cysteine, which are part of the proteins that the body needs to build muscle tissue and produce neurotransmitters needed in the function of the central nervous system.
Thus, molybdenum is a mineral that should not be lacking in the diet of a bodybuilder interested in building muscle mass.
Molybdenum is also key in the creation of uric acid, which is a waste product of protein and carbohydrate metabolism; therefore, it is another reason why it is considered a detoxifier.
There are many properties of molybdenum, but the best known is its indispensable role in the metabolism and intestinal absorption of iron. Our diet is very low in molybdenum and the consumption of beans can help us acquire this important mineral.
- Low glycemic index
Black beans have a glycemic index of 30, so it is considered a low glycemic index (potential to raise blood glucose) food. This type of food is slowly absorbed into the bloodstream, which helps prevent blood glucose spikes and allows us to control sweet food cravings.
Most of the carbohydrates in beans are complex, such as starch and dietary fiber, while the fraction of sugars (mono-, di-, and oligosaccharides) is significantly lower. In addition, of the total starch contained in black beans, 65% corresponds to starches that are resistant to digestion, ideal for maintaining our healthy intestinal flora.
Protein: Black beans provide us with most of the essential amino acids for protein synthesis. For every 100 g of beans, 20 g are protein and the black bean variety has the highest amount. Unlike meat, they contain very little saturated fat and no cholesterol, which makes them essential for people who follow a healthy diet, especially for vegetarians.
Because of their high protein content, they are an alternative to red meat, so they can help maintain a fast metabolism and active lifestyle. This makes them recommended for recovery after exercise or weight lifting.
Fiber: An adequate fiber diet is associated with a healthy body weight. This is because fibers are substances that are not well digested in the digestive tract and help you feel full with a minimum amount of calories.
Men should take 38 g of fibre per day and women 25 g to obtain the recommended daily intake. Cooked beans provide 7 g of fibre in half a cup, so it is recommended that they are included in the diet several times a week.
The fibres present in this legume are the soluble and insoluble ones. The former helps good cardiovascular health, regulates the body’s sugar levels, which makes them ideal for diabetic patients; in addition, it reduces the possibility of suffering from high cholesterol. The second one regulates the intestinal transit and prevents constipation. It is very useful for people who suffer from hemorrhoids and other disorders in the colon.
Essential vitamins and minerals: They are rich in vitamins, especially in B vitamins, such as thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3) and vitamin B9 or folic acid. The latter is required for DNA synthesis and repair, cell division and growth, among other functions.
Of all the varieties, black beans are the ones that have the highest contribution of iron, since one cup provides 25% of the minimum daily iron requirement. Iron is an essential mineral used for the transport of oxygen by red blood cells and its deficiency causes anemia.
It can be difficult to get enough magnesium in the diet, and this mineral is important for preventing osteoporosis, because of its role in calcium absorption. Magnesium is ideal to help control blood pressure, prevent the formation of blood clots and therefore facilitate circulation. Beans provide 19% of the daily value of this mineral.
They are a good source of potassium, which helps maintain normal heart rhythm, important for muscle function and proper water balance in the body. They also contain other minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, manganese etc.
The effects previously discussed in relation to the presence of anthocyanins and their action as antioxidants, also explain their anti-cancer property, since free radicals are an important source of cellular damage. It has been possible to establish a relationship between the habitual consumption of foods rich in flavonoids and fiber to a lower incidence of a great variety of malignant tumors.