Thursday, March 14, 2013

Article # 398. Pinto Beans: The Health Benefits


Pinto beans are legumes, which are small beans most often used to make refried beans and associated with Mexican cuisine. Pinto beans are beige and dotted with splashes of reddish-brown color and, like most starchy beans, are low in fat and rich in protein, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and many vitamins and minerals. Because these beans are a nutrient-dense food, they are a healthy food choice.
Protein and Carbohydrates
Pinto beans are rich in two nutrients needed in large quantities daily: protein and carbohydrates. According to the World's Healthiest Foods website, 1 cup of cooked pinto beans offers 14g of protein and 44g of carbohydrates. According to the McKinley Health Center, amino acids—the building blocks of protein—are needed to form the structure of cells, tissues and muscles as well as manufacture enzymes, hormones and all antibodies. Antibodies help the body fight off infection and support healthy immune system function. The body uses carbohydrates for energy; in fact, the brain and nervous system can only operate on glucose.
Dietary Fiber
Pinto beans, like most starchy beans, are one of the best food sources of dietary fiber. One cup meets 58 percent of the daily requirement for most individuals. While many foods, such as bran and vegetables, are rich in a type of dietary fiber known as insoluble fiber, or roughage, fewer foods are also an excellent source of the other major type of dietary fiber, soluble fiber. One cup of pinto beans, cooked, offers 14.7g of total dietary fiber, with nearly 5.5g in the form of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is particularly important for maintaining stable blood sugar levels, aiding in weight management and lowering levels of LDL or "bad" cholesterol levels, according to MayoClinic.com.
Micronutrient Powerhouse
According to ELook.org, pinto beans are a micronutrient powerhouse. One cup, cooked, is rich in many vitamins and minerals needed for optimum human health. One cup meets approximately 73 percent of the recommended daily value, or DV, for folate, also known as vitamin B9. Folate helps form red blood cells and DNA, is needed for a healthy pregnancy and reduces your risk of developing heart disease. Except for calcium and sodium, pinto beans are rich in nearly all major and trace minerals, including iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. Few non-fortified foods are so nutritious. These nutrients are important for maintaining proper function of the cardiovascular, immune, nervous and skeletal systems; aiding in energy metabolism and wound healing; regulating blood pressure; forming red blood cells and DNA; and activating enzymes throughout the body.

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