If your cholesterol is high, and you want to try to lower it with food instead of statins, believe it or not, beans are one of the best foods you can eat. That’s right...cheap, ugly, boring beans.
Two research studies have shown that just ½ cup of cooked beans a day for two months lowered cholesterol by 20 points! (1, 2) And if beans are part of a diet which includes specific cholesterol-lowering foods, the diet can lower serum LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels as effectively as statins. (3)
And guess what? While you’re working on lowering your cholesterol with ½ cup beans a day, you’ll also be getting rid of the gas problem.
Research has shown the increased emissions should be gone in 2-4 weeks of eating ½ cup of beans every day. (4)
If you like the details
Here are 6 ways beans help lower your cholesterol:
- They’re rich in fiber, including soluble fiber, which helps lower total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglyceride (fat) levels in your blood
- They’re a good source of resistant starch, which helps lower your cholesterol
- They contain phytosterols, the plant form of cholesterol, which help lower your cholesterol levels
- They’re cholesterol free
- They’re trans fat free. Trans fat raises your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- They’re low in fat, especially saturated fat, which increases your cholesterol levels
And by the way…
Three more reasons why beans are good for your heart:
- They’re rich in the B vitamin, folate, which helps lower homocysteine levels, a heart disease risk marker that damages blood vessels
- They’re rich in magnesium, which helps keep your heart rhythm steady
- They’re rich in potassium, which helps lower your blood pressure, decreasing your risk of a heart attack
What to do
Eat 1-2 cups of beans every day, any and all kinds: pintos, black beans, chickpeas, lentils, navy beans, great northerns, peas, etc.
How to do it
Try them in smoothies, salads, chilis, soups, pastas, pilafs, burritos, fajitas, tacos, enchiladas, over cornbread, rice or baked potatoes, as side dishes, dips or spreads, even at breakfast. Check out this blog for ideas on how to eat beans at every meal...even breakfast.
If you’re looking for quick and easy, use canned beans. Unless they’re no- or low-sodium canned beans, rinse them well in a colander and drain to lose about half the sodium.
Beans for beef
Want to really fight against high cholesterol levels with beans? Try this: when you’re eating a cup or more of beans a day, replace beef with the beans. In other words, go meatless that day. The more days you do that the better.
Beans are a great way to get protein, without the baggage of beef: saturated fat, trans fat and dietary cholesterol--all which raise your cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease.
Did you know?
Are you surprised to learn about beans’ cholesterol-lowering powers? Does it make you want to eat more beans? What’s your favorite way to eat them?
PS: Here are 50 Recipes for learning to love beans.
(1) Winham DM, Hutchins AM, Johnston CS. Pinto bean consumption reduces biomarkers for heart disease risk. J Am Coll Nutr. 2007 Jun:26(3):243-9.
(2) Winham DM, Hutchins AM. Baked bean consumption reduces serum cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic adults. Nutrition Research. Volume 27, Issue 7, pages 380-386 (July 2007).
(3) Jenkins D, Kendall C, Faulkner D, et al. Assessment of the longer-term effects of a dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods in hypercholesterolemia. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;83:582-591.
(4) Winham D, Reeves P, Hutchins A, Finely J. Gastrointestinal discomfort from legumes varies with type and diminishes after 4 weeks. FASEB J. 2007;21:A1077.