Black Beans are a wonderful source of dietary fiber which has been shown to naturally help lower cholesterol. In addition, the high fiber content in Black Beans helps keep blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making them a wise choice for people with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. When Black Beans are prepared with whole grains such as barley or wild rice, the Black Beans provide a virtually fat-free, high quality source of protein. But that's not all. Recent research also shows that Black Beans are rich in antioxidants as well. Antioxidants destroy free radicals, and when eaten regularly, have been shown to offer protection against heart disease, cancer and aging.
Researchers from Michigan State University tested the antioxidant activity of flavonoids found in the skin of 12 common varieties of dry beans. The research was published in the November 2003 issue of the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.
Black Beans crossed the finish line in first place having 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, says lead investigator Clifford W. Beninger, Ph.D., a research associate at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.
"Black beans are really loaded with antioxidant compounds. We didn't know they were that potent until now," says Beninger, formerly a researcher with the USDA's Sugarbeet and Bean Research Unit, located at Michigan State University in East Lansing, where he worked on the project under the leadership of co-author George L. Hosfield, Ph.D., a geneticist who recently retired from the USDA.
The study found that one class of compounds in particular, anthocyanins, were the most active antioxidants in the beans. Based on a previously published study of the anthocyanin content of black beans, Beninger found that the levels of anthocyanins per 100 gm serving size of black beans was about 10 times the amount of overall antioxidants in an equivalent serving size of oranges and similar to the amount found in an equivalent serving size of grapes, apples and cranberries.
Dust off the cook book or search online and try some of the Black Beans and Rice recipes. Black Beans and Rice can be a quick, easy and very healthy addition to any meal.
Black Bean Cooking Tip: The black dye from black beans will color anything that you cook them with. I prefer to prepare them ahead of time or separately, then add them to recipes after they are cooked.
Digestive Aids for Black Beans: Many of you have probably heard of Beano, a digestive enzyme that aids with the gas that many are plagued with when consuming beans. I take a digestive enzyme that helps digest many things with my meals, called Proactazyme. You can find more information about Proactazyme by searching for it in the search field at this link.
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