The week is rapidly slipping by. In fact, this first month of the new year has nearly reached the mid-way mark. Yesterday, I talked about inspiration. Last night while making dinner, I wondered, “What on earth can I post on my blog?” I read great posts nearly every day from other bloggers. Some don’t even count themselves as authors, but yet they truly are. “How can I measure up to these ladies,” I thought. My mind seems far simpler and my life less challenging. Then it occurred to me, write about what inspires me and you’ll never figure out what that was – pinto beans. Yep….what I was preparing for dinner.
Okay, are you curious? When I was a kid in the hills of West Virginia, my folks had a very hard time financially. We had food on the table and never was hungry but our diet consisted of pinto beans and cornbread, daily for a long time. I swore when I grew up to NEVER have these foods again. Oh the ranting of a child, right?
You guessed it, by the time I was grown, I introduced these very same foods I grew to despise as a child to my wee ones as “comfort foods”. There’s nothing like a pot of pinto beans and good ole homemade cornbread. I can almost smell them now. Mmmm. I thought why not dig up the dirt on pinto beans and share the scoop with you today.
A Super Star in Fiber
Pinto beans are in the legumes family. I knew that pinto beans, as well as many others, are high in fiber but did you know that one cup of pinto beans has 58.8% of your fiber daily recommended intake? That’s impressive! Fiber is excellent for lowering your cholesterol, but what I did not know until more recently is that high fiber content foods prevent blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal. This is especially good for anyone with diabetes or is hypoglycemia. Pinto beans definitely fall into this category.
The risk of heart attacks can be lowered by incorporating legumes in your diet. Research analyzer found that high consumption of legumes reduced heart attack changes by 82%. Archives of Internal Medicine confirmed that eating high fiber foods, such as pinto beans, helps prevent heart disease. While fiber may be instrumental with the possible prevention of such problems as coronary heart disease (CHD) or cardiovascular disease (CVD), it is not the only element in the pinto beans composition that lends this advantage. Pinto beans have significant amounts of folate, magnesium, and potassium. Folate helps to cut homocysteine, a blood toxin, known to affect the heart and influence cholesterol to deposit (build up) in the heart. A cup of pinto beans offers 75.5% of the daily recommended folate intake. Magnesium, nature’s calcium channel blocker, allows veins and arteries to basically relax, which reduces resistance and improves the flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrients throughout the body. A single cup serving forks out little less than a quarter of the daily Magnesium needed. Potassium is an imperative electrolyte intricate in nerve transmission and muscle contracting properly. It is also another mineral that is vital for preserving normal blood pressure and heart function. Pinto beans are a good source of this mineral and ready to help your cardiovascular health. One serving, a cup, of pintos provides 800.3 mg of potassium and only 3.4 mg of sodium, making these beans an especially good choice to avert high blood pressure and guard against atherosclerosis.
Blood Sugar Stabilizer
This is something that particularly interests me since my grandparents and parents have Type II diabetes. Fiber rich foods are essential in stabilizing your blood sugar levels and if you have insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, then pinto beans can provide a balance in your blood sugar levels while supplying a steady, slow-burning energy. While a single serving of pintos give you 58.8% (14.7grams) of the recommended daily value, researchers compared two groups the standard American Diabetic diet, who consumed 24 grams of fiber/day and the other ate 50 grams of fiber per/day. The group who ate the higher fiber diet had lower levels of blood sugar and insulin. The study also concluded that the higher fiber reduced cholesterol by nearly 7%, triglyceride levels by 10.2%, and their VLDL (Very Low-Density Lipoprotein–the most dangerous form of cholesterol) levels by 12.5%.
Boosting Iron Stores
I’m beginning to think, this little guy – the pinto bean has gotten a bum rap during my childhood years. How could I’ve known the sheer magnitude of this little guy’s powerful properties? While you won’t morph into an Iron Man, pintos can increase your energy by helping to replenish your iron supply. This is particularly vital for menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency. While pinto beans increase your iron reserves. However, unlike red meat pinto beans are low in calories and practically fat-free. I say, “Hoorah!” on that score along. Iron is a fundamental element of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is also part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism. Let’s not forget, pregnant or lactating women’s needs for iron proliferate, as well as growing children and adolescents’ have bigger needs for iron. A cup of pinto beans provides the body with 24.8% of the daily suggested iron intake.
Other Nutritional Benefits
Pinto beans have other properties such as copper and manganese. These two trace minerals are essential cofactors of a key oxidative enzyme called Superoxide Dismutase defusing free radicals produced within the mitochondria (the energy production factories within our cells). Copper is also required for lysyl oxidase to work, an enzyme complex in cross-linking collagen and elastin, both deliver flexibility in blood vessels, bones, and joints. Another thing copper does is, aids iron to be used in red blood cells properly. Thiamin, a B vitamin, is critical for brain cell/mental function. Thiamin is needed for a neurotransmitter which is essential for memory impaired by the aging process causing senility and Alzheimer’s disease. Finally, pintos coupled with whole grain pasta or bread produce protein comparable to red meat but without the high calories and fat.
Although I reclaimed my love for this comfort food, I’ve come to appreciate it more after my Internet sleuthing and gained a newer respect for the pinto bean that I once denounced. Pinto beans dubbed as an American staple during the great World Wars because of the supply was good and the cost was inexpensive made it an essential part of our culture. What no one realized in those early years is the true importance of this little guy with all of its valuable health benefits. Begin now, get a little healthier and incorporate pinto beans into your diet. Turn a simple bowl of pintos into a feast with some good ole piping hot cornbread and enjoy!
My Thursday Two Questions are:
1) Do you have foods from your childhood that you hated, but now love?
2) How do you decide what to blog on each day?
Please join me by adding your response to these questions in my comments.