I grew up eating black beans and brown rice at least once a week and I was taught this was the height of health food. People in my immediate family believed that authors like John Robbins and Jane Brody were the pinnacle of nutritional know how. I ate a ton of beans all my life thinking they were full of protein and vitamins but then I learned the connection between my autoimmune disease, gut irritation and beans. I had a great nutritionist in 2009 who followed traditional food principles and she told me to make my diet mostly humane meat, wild fish and organic veggies. My health and appetite control have improved greatly since I removed beans from my meals. I really do not miss them because now I have plenty of healthy fats and pastured meats in my diet, which taste a lot better than bland beans.
8 Reasons Beans Are Not Health Food
1. Before the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago people had no beans or grains in their diets. Adding pulses and cereals have lead to people having more cavities, lowered bone density and shorter stature. It takes between 40,000-100,000 years for humans genes to adapt to a major change in the type of food we eat. We have not yet adapted to our diets shifting from mostly meat to predominantly agricultural products.
2. Ancient Hunter-Gathers who did not eat beans had triple the intake of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Magnesium, Fiber, Potassium, Calcium, and Zinc compared with modern day Americans.
3. Historically hundreds of generations of native cultures have never followed a vegetarian diets by choice.
4. Complex carbohydrates like beans are made up of 60% starch which must break down into sugar to be absorbed by the body. Our modern diets are higher in carbohydrates than any other period in human history. Carbohydrates in beans can be appetite stimulants causing us to overeat.
5. Phytic acid found in legumes (and grains) can block mineral absorption which contributes to Osteoporosis. Also a diet high in beans and grains is linked with malnutrition, degenerative disease, birth defects, and iron deficiency anemia becasue of the phytic acid.
6. Phytic acid also inhibits three enzymes that we need to digest our food, including trypsin and pepsin for the breakdown of proteins and amylase for the digestion of starch into sugar. Without adequate protein absorption detoxification and muscle growth will be impaired.
7. Beans are seeds of plants important for their germination and survival. Beans contain lectins which can cause considerable intestinal upset and inflammation to those who eat the seeds because the plant is trying to protect it self from being ingested.
8. Metabolism can be reduced by a diet high in phytates from beans and grains because the body tries to use as little minerals as possible. The body turns down it’s ability to grow, reproduce and maintain because it is preparing to be starved of minerals from a nutrient deficient diet. High phytate diets can especially affect young children who need lots of minerals for growing bones and teeth.
Some of the hard to digest lectins and phytates can be reduced when beans are soaked and sprouted for several days but I find that most people do not want to take the time to properly prepare legumes. Nuts and seeds can also have lectins and phytates so it is better to soak them over night and limit consumption.
Also since most people I come across are looking to lose weight eating a food that is mostly starch seems counter productive to slimming down. Black beans are low in nutrition and protein. People always ask me about easy snack and party foods to make. I love this Mediterranean dip because it is so tasty and full of nutrition. I made this great Baba Ganoush recipe for my birthday party recently and it is sure to satisfy any bean craving.
2. Gedgaudas, N. (2011). Primal body, primal mind. Rochester: Healing Arts Press.
3. Wolf, Robb. (2010). The Paleo Solution. Auberry, CA:Victory Belt Publishing.