Beans.

So this is a pretty controversial topic.

beans

It’s hard to determine if beans are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for you because there is so much conflicting information out there, and it all seems legit. For every article boasting about the Colon cleansing properties and beneficial phytonutrients in beans, there is another one warning about their high lectin content or harmful phytic acid level.

My friend asked me to post about beans – why I don’t eat them, why they are ‘bad’ for you. I’m not a scientist. I don’t know much of anything. But I read a lot of blogs and journals and books all about food. And I’ve taken quite a few things from opposing sides of this argument.

First of all – I think people who go off on biased tangents about a topic like this look extremely stupid, because for the most part, they can’t back it up. Cool, you read somewhere that beans have anti-nutrients which prevent your body from absorbing ¬†certain minerals, so we are all doomed. Do you even really know what phytic acid is? Cause I sure don’t. I’m not arguing that these things aren’t true, but I do not think they are severe enough for us to shun natural cooked beans and label them as an anti-health food. There are a lot of other things we should be eliminating from our diets first.

Here’s what I think: Beans, legumes, lentils – not ‘bad’ for you. The problem does not lie in the legumes themselves. The problem is in the quantity and industrialized state that we consume them in. There is a difference between fresh edemame and partially hydrogenated soybean oil. As a population, we eat a lot more of the latter, and there is nothing natural about that.¬†They are hidden in almost everything we eat today. Which means that the ‘bad’ effects of them are heightened and blown out of proportion as a result.

That being said, I think we could all easily go without them. They aren’t necessarily nutritional powerhouses; there are plenty of things with more fiber, more protein, and that are not as hard to digest. But eating some hummus with your vegetables or salsa with black beans in it won’t put you on your death bed.

I think Mark Sisson sums this up perfectly. Beans are just one of those food groups you have to focus on eating in moderation if you really like them. The reason beans aren’t in the paleo diet is because of their high carbohydrate content and low nutritional density. I have eliminated them from my diet personally because I do not like the way I react to them; they are hard for me to digest, and any vitamin or macro-nutrient I could get from them could also be attained from foods that have them in higher and more absorbable amounts. I mostly eat food based on how it effects my performance, and I feel sluggish and like i’m gonna need a portopotty or 5 if I eat them before a long run or a race…not fun.

Moral of the story: Beans aren’t ‘bad’ if they are consumed infrequently and cooked properly, but they should be avoided in heavily processed forms (just like almost everything else), and in my opinion, eaten only AFTER your workout.