Beans, peas, and lentils are all high in protein, i.e. 25% to 60% of available calories, and fat free. There are a number of studies showing that diets high in these sources of protein have favorable health benefits. Of course, numerous studies show that mammal protein is unhealthy, i.e., beef, pork, and lamb. While not every study is favorable to beans, the overall message is to eat more beans, peas, and lentils along with fish, and nuts as protein sources. For women, skimmed milk may be another healthy source. Please note, soybeans have their own webpage.
Beans and Lentils Predict Longevity: The "Food Habits in Later Life "(FHILL) study of 785 elderly over age 69 in Japan, Sweden, Greece and Australia with 7 years follow-up found that adjusted to age, gender and smoking, the legume food group showed 7-8% reduction in mortality hazard ratio for every 20 g increase in daily intake with or without controlling for ethnicity (RR 0.92 and RR 0.93). Other food groups were not found to be consistently significant in predicting survival. Legumes: the most important dietary predictor of survival in older people of different ethnicities. Darmadi-Blackberry I, Wahlqvist ML, et al. National Ageing Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2004;13(2):217-20.
Dark Beans High Anti-Oxidant Values: Black beans have more antioxidant activity, gram for gram, than other beans, followed by red, brown, yellow and white beans, in that order. In general, darker colored seed coats were associated with higher levels of flavonoids, and therefore higher antioxidant activity. Clifford W. Beninger, University of Guelph. There is still no human research showing that the differential anti-oxidant values make any difference or that any type of beans is better than any other. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 12/31/03
Fish Good, Beans Maybe Not: A diet rich in fish may ameliorate AD, possibly by lowering homocysteine, but more vegetarian diets do not. In fact, eating beans correlated with worse cognition in Alzheimer's disease patients. Further studies should test if restricting the intake of beans slows the progression of AD. Germany. Study of vegetarian and meat-eating AD patients. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2002 Dec;57(12):M797-802
Red or White Meat Increased Colon Cancer; Peas, Nuts, & Beans Decreased It: Chicken and fish did no no better than average but peas and beans decreased colon cancer (more than twice a week had a risk ration of RR .53) in prospective 6 year study of 32,051 7th Day Adventists. Once a week red meat increased colon cancer 38% (RR 1.85), Once a week white meat increased it 55% (RR 1.90). Four times a week meat increased it 200%. Increased BMI>25.6 RR 2.63 vs. BMI<22.5. Aspirin over once a week had a RR .83. There was lower risk for women who have had at least one child: RR .72. Nuts at least once a week: RR .67. Pramil Singh, Loma Linda, Am J Epid 10/98 148:761-74. Less than 20% variation in colon cancer due to heredity. Antioxidant vitamins, calcium, and vitamin D often found protective. Cruciferous, fruits and legumes reported beneficial. Physical activity, obesity, aspirin use (inverse effect?), cigs may contribute. Nurses’ Study found same with beef, pork, or lamb as a main dish every day was 2.49 (1.24 to 5.03) compared with women reporting consumption less than once a month. Physical activity was associated inversely with the risk of large adenomas in the distal colon (relative risk 0.57 ). Of 19 published studies of hormonal replacement therapy and risk of colorectal cancer, 10 support an inverse association and a further five show a significant reduction in risk. The risk seems lowest among long term users.
Fruits, Vegetable Good Against Gallbladder Cancer: Radish, Sweet Potato, Mango, Orange, Melon, Etc; Capsicum, Beef, Tea Not Good: Odds ratio in small study of 64 cases was seen with the consumption of radish (OR 0.4), green chilli (OR 0.45) and sweet potato (OR 0.33) among vegetables, and mango (OR 0.4), orange (OR 0.45), melon (OR 0.3) and papaya (OR 0.44) among fruits. A reduction in odds was also seen with the consumption of cruciferous vegetables, beans, onion and turnip, however the difference was not statistically significant. On the other hand, an increase in the odds was observed with consumption of capsicum (OR 2.2), beef (OR 2.58), tea (OR 1.98), red chilli (OR 1.29) and mutton (OR 1.2), however the difference was statistically not significant. In conclusion, the results of the present study show a protective effect of vegetables and fruits on gallbladder carcinogenesis, but red meat (beef and mutton) was found to be associated with increased risk of gallbladder cancer. Eur J Cancer Prev 2002 Aug;11(4):365-8
Beans, Lentil, Tomato, Raisin, Pea Good Against Prostate Cancer: A 6 year follow-up study of 14,000 7th Day Adventists found consumption of beans, lentils and peas, tomatoes, raisin, dates, and other dried fruit were all associated with significantly decreased prostate cancer risk. Cancer 1989 Aug 1;64(3):598-604
Stomach Cancer Less with Allium Vegetables, Beans, Fruit: High consumption of raw vegetables, fruit, tomatoes, kidney beans and soybean products. People who consumed garlic en masse 3 times or more per week were 82% of men and 75% of women in the Low Risk Areas, and 1% of men and women in the High Risk Areas. J Epidemiol 1999 Nov;9(5):297-305
Spinach, Tofu, Beans, Pan Frying Good Against Stomach CA; Broiled Meats, Salted and Fermented Food Bad: Stomach cancer Korea’s most prevalent cancer. case-control study increased risk from broiled meats and fishes, salted side dishes (salted/fermented fish products) and salty stewed foods, such as soybean paste thickened stew. Frequent consumption of mung bean pancake, tofu, cabbage, spinach and sesame oil decreased the risk. For meat and fish, pan frying was associated with decreased risk, whereas stewing or broiling was associated with increased risk. Pickled vegetables increased the risk, whereas fresh vegetables did not. In a recent cohort study in Seoul, green vegetables and soybean foods were associated with a decreased risk of stomach cancer. Case-control and cohort studies have reported that ginseng intake decreased the risk of gastric cancer. Int J Cancer 1997;Suppl 10:7-9
Mediterranean Diet Works: Univ. of Athens and Harvard study NEJM 6/26/03 with 22,000 healthy Greeks given points for increased fruit, vegetables, cereals, wine, peas/beans, fish, and olive oil and decreased points for meat or milk for up to 9 points. 4 years of follow-up. Every 2 point increase resulted in 25% fewer deaths (33% fewer heart, 24% fewer cancer).
Rice and Beans Make You Thin; Western Diet Make You Fat: In a Brazilian study, where 33% of the population is overweight & 12% are obese, three major dietary patterns were identified: mixed pattern when all food groups and items had about the same factor loading, except for rice and beans; one pattern that relies mainly on rice and beans, which was called a traditional diet; and a third pattern, termed a Western diet, where fat (butter and margarine) and added sugar (sodas) showed the highest positive loading and rice and beans were strong negative components. Among men, the Western diet. Obes Res 2002 Jan;10(1):42-8
Iron & Manganese Intake Associated with Increase in Parkinson's Disease: Neurology. 6/10/03. 25% with the highest levels of iron intake were 1.7 times more likely to be Parkinson's patients than those in the lowest 25 percent. Higher -- 1.9 times more likely -- for those who had higher-than-normal intakes of both iron and manganese. Sources of iron include cereal, bread, spinach, nuts, beans, meat, poultry and fish. In the United States, many grain products -- such as cereal -- are fortified with iron. Manganese is found in grain products and spinach. Karen Powers
Salt Substitutes Cheapest Source of Potassium; OJ, Fruits, Beans, Vegetables High in Potassium: Potassium is high in most natural foods including almost all fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, etc. It is low in refined flour and of course absent in sugar and oils. Supplements at Walmart of potassium 99mg. tablets in bottles of 250 cost $4 (25,000 mg). At local health food store, 100 tablets cost $4-8. These are a real waste of money. Potassium baking powder at a health food store costs $4.50 for the equivalent of 400 pills (29160mg) and avoids regular baking powder which is high in sodium. Orange juice is very high in potassium, i.e., 4500mg/1/2 gal, 560mg/cup, or 18,000mg for $5.20 at Aldi's premixed. Studies are of supplements of 60-120 Meq/day or 4500 mg-9000 mg./day (1 mEq=75 mg). Micro-K 10 Extencaps have 750 mg. potassium. The usual dietary intake of potassium for an adult is 50-100 mEq/day or 3500-7000 mg./day. Excessive levels are rare if normal excretory functions. However, in chronic renal failure, systemic acidosis, acute dehydration, extensive burns, adrenal insufficiency or with a potassium sparing diuretic medication such as spironolactone, triamterene, or amiloride, there is a danger of overdosage. Salt substitutes are generally made with potassium and are by far the least expensive source of potassium and don't taste bad.
Thomas E. Radecki, M.D., J.D.