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Beans are a high-fiber, high-protein food. The nutritional value of beans includes their calorie content, the amount of fat in each serving, and the vitamins and minerals a serving contains. Although the nutritional value of beans may vary slightly among varieties, each type of legume is usually considered an excellent source of folate and other B vitamins as well as iron and other minerals.
The nutritional value of beans includes a number of minerals. A 1-cup serving of black beans, for example, contains about 20 percent of a person's daily value of iron, a mineral needed for healthy red blood cells. Women and children especially need to make sure they get enough iron in their diets.
The nutritional value of beans is important for keeping a person's heart in good shape. Beans contain a lot of fiber per serving, about 30 percent of the recommended daily amount. The soluble fiber found in beans can help reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood, lowering a person's risk of heart disease. Other factors of the nutritional value of beans, such as the amount of folate and magnesium they contain, contribute to heart health as well.
Beans contain a large amount of folate, a type of B vitamin that lowers homocysteine, a type of amino acid found in the blood that is linked to heart disease and stroke. Getting adequate amounts of folate is especially important for women who plan on becoming pregnant, as it lowers the risk of neural tube defects in developing fetuses. A half a cup of beans, such as lentils or pinto beans, contains about 40 percent of the recommended daily amount of folate.
Magnesium is another mineral found in beans that can help lower a person's risk of heart disease. The mineral helps to keep arteries and blood vessels soft and flexible, reducing the risk of a heart attack. Beans also contain a decent amount of potassium, which can help people who suffer from high blood pressure.
Most beans are high in protein and are a good source of protein for vegetarians. A half-cup serving of beans usually contains about 7 grams of protein and is the equivalent of a 1-ounce serving of meat as well as a serving of vegetables. Beans contain much less fat than meats, though, making them a good protein substitute for people looking to reduce their fat intake. As they are not from animals, beans are also cholesterol-free.
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