Beans Can Fight Cancer!

Remember when I wrote a post about how to cook beans? That post is here. I also talked about how beans are so great for weight control because they contain protein and fiber plus another compound called resistant starch that helps us feel full and not absorb all of the calories in the beans.

The benefits do not stop there. Beans can also protect against colon cancer which is the second leading cancer killer in the United States (1). One of the mechanisms being studied in determining why beans are protective is through the creation of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid, that is produced by microflora in the colon from the nondigestible carbohydrates in beans (2). Butyrate has antineoplastic and anti-inflammatory properties which makes it protective. That is pretty incredible!

To get the full benefits of eating beans, Dr. Fuhrman suggests at least one-half cup per day. This level of consumption can be spread out during the day, although I often just plop that much on my lunch salad. If you feel you can’t eat that many beans due to digestive discomfort, I would suggest starting with a smaller amount and working your way up. Over time, your digestive tract should adjust and allow you to eat more without any problems.

Here are some of my favorites bean recipes!

1. Bean and Vegetable Blended Soups are a fantastic way to increase your bean and vegetable intake. They are delicious and filling and, oh yeah, fight cancer. My latest version uses fresh vegetable juice for added flavor and nutrition. I called it my Beet-Based Blended Soup and the recipe can be found by clicking here:

2. As mentioned, I often put beans on my lunch salads. Mixed with the dressing and other yummy stuff in the salad, they actually taste great this way!

3. Bean burgers are a great alternative to eating beans cold on a salad. Combined with grains or vegetables, they make a nutritious, comforting meal. I usually serve my bean burgers on top of a raw salad. My Beet-y Veggie Burgers (recipe is here) are a good example of how to mix beans and shredded beets into a burger.

4. Blending beans into bean spread, hummus or even a bean-based salad dressing is simple and transforms the texture and flavor of beans. As crazy as it sounds, I have heard of people making dessert hummus, although I have never tried it myself. I often make a simple hummus, though, by just putting chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic and tahini in the food processor.

5. Lastly, I’ve gotten into the habit of water-sauteeing beans with greens like collards or kale and serving it with a cashew cream sauce (click here for a recipe). It’s heavenly and probably one of the healthiest meals I make. It makes great leftovers, too!

Now go eat your beans!

P.S. In case you missed it, I posted a giveaway yesterday for a 2-pound bag of chia seeds. It ends on Thursday so don’t miss your chance to enter here. Good luck!

References:

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Colorectal (Colon) Cancer. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/ on 3/13/12.

2. Lanza, E., et al. High Dry Bean Intake and Reduced Risk of Advanced Colorectal Adenoma Recurrence among Participants in the Polyp Prevention Trial. J Nutr. 2006. 2006 Jjly: 136(7): 1896-1903. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1713264/?tool=pubmed on 3/13/12.

Comments

  1. Paul B says

    Sprouting is another way you can get your bean intake. Only some beans can be sprouted safely though. These include mung beans, lentils, chickpeas, and adzuki beans. Other beans contain too many toxins to be eaten safely as sprouts.

    btw, Carrie I added my “like” of your Facebook page! :)

      • Paul B says

        Carrie,

        Compared to just soaked, yeah I think so. Compared to cooked? I don’t know the answer to that. Probably. I don’t have digestion issues with bean sprouts that I do with cooked beans. Lentils cause no problem though.

        Paul

  2. says

    I have always had a secret suspicion that the old adage about beans causing gas is at least slightly unfair! I know they’re not exactly easy to digest for everyone, but frankly, I think the fear is a bit inflated.

  3. Robyn :) says

    I am going to be adding more beans to my diet after reading this! I am needing to lose a lot of weight. For the first time I have a doctor who has shown some concern and made helpful suggestions, including having my thyroid tested. Even if it is that I am wanting to continue to introduce more and more healthy options into my diet. Not wanting to go vegan, but definitely wanting to cut back on the meat and focus more on vegetables and grains. I have been saving up your recipes to try :)

    • says

      Hi Robyn! I think you’ll be amazed by how quickly your health can improve once you add more fruits and veggies to your diet. You don’t have to “go vegan,” just “go veggie” instead! :) Even just giving a mainly plant-based diet for 4-6 weeks could improve the way you feel enough to inspire you to keep with it. I think the bottom line is to do the best you can day by day, but really put forth a good effort to try out a new lifestyle. It’s hard to make changes, but your health is worth it, and the answers likely won’t be found in medical tests. I would suggest reading the book “Eat to Live” and seeing if the message about using food to heal yourself resonates with you. I found it at my library and I was so inspired by reading it that it literally changed my whole life for the better. I felt like I was on a downward spiral of medication, low energy and weight issues where now I have incredible energy, very few medical issues and an incredible zest for life and the amazing whole foods, plant-based meals I make. Keep me updated on your status!

  4. Paula says

    I love beans. They are fantastic tossed on salad. I sometimes just take baby butter beans by themselves for a snack at lunch time. I love the soup recipe. Thanks for sharing it.

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