Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Health Benefits of Legumes

The Health Benefits of Legumes
The Peaceful Kitchen's Vegan Taco Salad

I would like to highlight the significant benefits of a healthy plant based diet in a series of articles.  I believe it is important to understand the reasoning behind a healthy plant based diet. I create delicious recipes that I share freely but I would like to also provide information as to why I teach and promote a plant based diet.

Plant Based Diet and Protection Against Colon Cancer

The majority of Americans believe that cancer is some unavoidable disease that befalls unsuspecting victims.  It is also commonly believed that the only treatment is to cut, burn or poison the cancer away.  Unfortunately much of the research on cancer prevention and nutritional treatment are largely ignored and supressed.  Obviously, treatment that rakes in over $100,000 per patient is going to take precedence over simple lifestyle changes.   It is more about money, and less about the health and wellbeing of the patient.  It is hard for the average person to accept this fact, but it is in reality, fact!

Legume Protection against Colon Cancer

Recent research has highlighted the powerful benefit of legume consumption in the prevention of colon cancer.  Legumes contain what is termed, resistant starch.  When the resistant starch enters the colon and bacterial fermentation of the starch begins a substance called butyrate is produced in the lumen of the colon. 

Researchers have conducted in vitro studies that have shown butyrate to have a wide range of chemo-preventative properties including a reduction in the proliferation of cancer cells and blood vessels that feed tumors. It also enhances immune system functions and has anti-inflammatory effects in colo-rectal cancer cells. 

This powerful chemo-preventative action of butyrate has shown promising results in recent studies.   A study published in the Journal of Nutrition compared subjects with the lowest legume intake to those with the highest legume intake and found that those with the highest legume intake had a highly significant 65% reduction in the recurrence of advanced colon polyps.

Phytic Acid offers protection against various forms of cancer

Butyrate is only one cancer protective aspect of legume consumption. Legumes also contain a substance called phytic acid.  Phytic acid is sold in supplement form as IP6.   Phytic acid has been researched and has displayed significant anti-neoplastic action against breast, liver, leukemia, colon, prostate, sarcomas and even skin cancer.  

 In a systematic review published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine researchers came to the conclusion,  "There is a large body of animal evidence to show that phytic acid may have a role in both the prevention and treatment of many forms of cancer."

The popular Nurses Health study found that women who consumed 4 or more servings of legumes per week had 35% fewer bowel polyps than women who consumed less than 1 serving per week.

Legumes have powerful anti-cancer properties, however, many individuals have concerns that phytic acid may bind with minerals and lead to nutritional deficiencies.  The frightening claims being made about phytic acid get attention and make article writers a lot of money but they are completely unfounded.

Research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food actually found increased bone density with higher consumption of foods containing phytate, such as legumes.  The Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology published an article that concluded that IP6 or phytic acid has no negative effects on minerals status and adequate amounts in the diet are "remarkable and must be favorably considered."

Legumes are nutrition powerhouses, they contain healthy protein, fiber, iron, zinc, antioxidants and they offer signifcant protection against cancer.  Legumes help stabilize blood sugar and should comprise a significant part of a healthy, plant based diet.

Nutritional Profile of Legumes

1 cup of Lentils

Calories     229
Protein       18g
Fat              .8g
Omega 3's   7%
Vitamin A   1%
Folate        90%
B1              30%
B2              13%
B3              15%
B5              25%
B6              27%
Vitamin C     4%
Vitamin E      1%
Vitamin K      4%
Calcium         4%
Iron               37%
Magnesium    22%
Manganese    54%
Phosphorus    51%
Potassium       16%
Selenium         10%
Zinc                 31%

1 c. of Garbanzo Beans
Calories      268
Protein       14.5g
Fat             4.2g
Vitamin A     2%
Folate          71%
B1              17%
B2               9%
B3               6%
B5               9%
B6               18%
Vitamin C      3%
Vitamin E      4%
Vitamin K      7%
Calcium         8%
Iron              26%
Magnesium    25%
Manganese    94%
Phosphorus    39%
Potassium     10%
Selenium       11%
Zinc              31%

Legumes have an excellent nutritional profile!  Add legumes to your meals and enjoy the amazing flavor, texture and health benefits!

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