White kidney beans are a protein-rich starchy vegetable, full of vitamins, minerals and an excellent source of dietary fiber. Adding them to your diet offers a variety of health benefits such as promoting digestive health and preventing heart disease.
- Used in a variety of traditional dishes, kidney beans are usually eaten well cooked.
Kidney beans, like other beans and legumes, are rich in both types of dietary fiber — soluble and insoluble. A 1-cup serving of kidney beans, cooked, meets roughly 45 percent of the Recommended Daily Intake for fiber. Both forms of fiber offer health benefits. In the digestive tract, soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance that binds with cholesterol-containing bile and carries it out of the body. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, helps to prevent constipation and improves laxation by increasing stool bulk. Insoluble fiber may also help to prevent common digestive disorders such as diverticulosis and irritable bowel syndrome.
Reduces Heart Attack
Fiber-rich diets help promote healthy cholesterol levels and lower cholesterol. White kidney beans are also rich in a B vitamin known as folate. In fact, a 1-cup serving of cooked white kidney beans meets over half of the Recommended Daily Value, or DV, for this nutrient. Folate helps lower levels of homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid that acts as a toxin in the bloodstream. In fact, elevated levels of this amino acid in the bloodstream is an independent risk factor for stroke and heart attack. According to a meta-analysis published in the “Journal of the American Medical Association” in October 2002, if all Americans consumed folate-rich diets, or those that met 100 percent of the DV for this nutrient, it would reduce the number of heart attacks by 10 to 11 percent each year due to the reduction in circulating homocysteine.
Stabilizes Blood Sugar
In addition to offering benefits for the digestive and cardiovascular systems, the soluble fiber found in white kidney beans helps stabilize blood sugar levels. According to an article published in “Current Diabetes Reports” in October 2009, randomized, controlled research studies have shown that viscous soluble fiber offers both immediate and long-term metabolic improvements in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Some of these benefits include reducing hemoglobin A1c levels and insulin levels, improving fasting and post-meal glucose readings, and aiding in weight control by promoting feelings of fullness.
- Even though kidney beans may have a number of health benefits, raw or inadequately cooked kidney beans are toxic.In addition, some people may wish to limit their consumption of beans due to bloating and flatulence.