Kidney Beans are an amazing source of protein for many people all over the world. Did you know that they are named “kidney” beans because they are shaped and colored like the actual organ? These hearty beans are rich in many nutrients and very high in dietary fiber. When it comes to All-Star foods kidney beans are right up there with dark leafy greens and bright oranges! Can you believe it?! Let’s look at a few reasons why:
One cup of kidney beans has about 15 milligrams of iron. You may already know that iron is an integral component of hemoglobin. This protein transports oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body, making it a vital component of good health and especially energy production. I’ve known many women who complained of being tired all the time, only to find out they had an iron deficiency. However, if you’ve ever taken iron supplements, you know that they can cause you to be miserably constipated. Legumes such as kidney beans help alleviate this problem by providing both iron and fiber—without the constipation. Women who are still menstruating are often at greater risk of iron deficiency, so adding kidney beans into one’s diet would be very beneficial!
These deep red beans are also a good source of folate (vitamin B9). This is one of the “feel good” B vitamins, important for mental health and energy. Folate deficiency symptoms include mental fatigue, forgetfulness, and confusion, among others. It is also well known as an essential nutrient for pregnant women.
Insomnia, Depression and Anxiety
Tryptophan is one of the ten essential amino acids found in food sources that your body uses to synthesize the proteins it needs. It is especially well-known for its “post-Thanksgiving Dinner” effects on the body…which becomes very clear when the person washing the dishes comes out of the kitchen to find everyone crashed on the couch in an after-dinner daze! This effect however, is mostly due to the carbohydrates consumed that trigger the release of tryptophan rather than the turkey’s actual content of tryptophan.
Tryptophan plays a role in the production of nervous system messengers that relate to relaxation, restfulness, and sleep. Because of its ability to raise serotonin levels, tryptophan has been used therapeutically in the treatment of a variety of chronic conditions, most notably insomnia, depression, and anxiety. Not consuming enough tryptophan is linked to depression, anxiety, irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate, weight gain, and insomnia. Legumes, in general, are a great source of this vital nutrient!
Kidney beans are full of flavonoids, which are one of the most essential classes of antioxidants. These compounds help to limit the damage caused to our skin and organs by free radicals and harmful environmental factors. When we eat to preserve the health of our bodies, greater longevity is in store for us!
Blood Sugar Balancing & Weight Loss
The soluble and insoluble fiber within these little nuggets helps to stabilize blood sugar, making them a great food for those with diabetes and/or insulin resistance. Remember that when combined with enough water, fiber helps to keeps toxins and wastes moving out of the body, as well as helping to keep us fuller for longer. In combination, all of these benefits can promote weight loss.
Kidney beans are a wonderful protein source for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. One cup has a whole 43 grams! When you consider that two eggs have roughly 12 grams of protein, this mighty legume becomes very impressive indeed.
Just remember that non-animal sources of protein are typically “incomplete”, as they are missing select amino acids. Red kidney beans are low in lysine, therefore combining it with a grain such as rice will fill in that gap.
Cooking Tips and Tricks
Remember that all beans contain phytic acid, which binds to the minerals in your body and decreases their absorption. You can avoid this by simply soaking your beans overnight. If you are in a pinch and buy a can, be sure to rinse them very well before cooking.
Kidney beans are the perfect addition to soups, chili and a variety of cold salads. If you are attending or hosting a barbecue in the near future, toss those canned baked beans for The Best Baked Beans Recipe Ever! It’s seriously amazing.
So are you beginning to connect the dots of kidney beans as a source of stamina? High protein combined with energy-inducing iron and mental focusing B-9, along with a host of antioxidants, truly make this legume a super food! Maybe consider having a bowl of kidney bean chili instead of that pasta a night before a marathon.