A certain toast-topper staple may help to prolong your life. It can be enjoyed for breakfast or lunch and, sometimes, even dinner. What’s this versatile and life-enhancing treat?
BBC Sport Academy nutritionist Matt Lovell said: “Baked beans are one of the best things humans can eat.”
He continued: “The reason beans are so healthy is that they contain antioxidants which protect the cells in our body.
“Antioxidants protect us from the effects of ageing and all sorts of diseases such as cancer and heart disease.”
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What are baked beans?
Baked beans are typically made with small, white beans – usually haricot or cannellini – which are then covered in tomato sauce.
They contain vitamin B6, magnesium, iron, potassium , protein and fibre.
Notably a good source of thiamine, zinc and selenium too, these contribute to energy production, immune function and thyroid health.
Offering beneficial plant compounds, named polyphenols, these have high antioxidant activities.
Protecting your cells from unstable molecules called free radicals, polyphenols help to inhibit inflammation.
Both free radical damage and inflammation have been linked to heart disease and cancer.
Researchers from the Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that baked beans inhibit cholesterol consumption in people’s guts.
This is because baked beans contain compounds called phytosterols.
Supporting this finding, a study by the Department of Applied Human Nutrition, at Mount Saint Vincent University, investigated men with borderline-high cholesterol.
The participants consumed five five cups (650g) of baked beans each week for one month.
The results revealed that they experiences an 18 percent decrease in LDL (low-density lipoproteins) cholesterol.
This is also referred to bad cholesterol because it can build up in your arteries, making it harder for the heart to pump blood around the body.
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Baked beans may also support gut health. This is because they contain fibre, which helps to aid regular bowel movements.
Moreover, fibre nourishes the microbes in the large intestine or colon.
Researchers from the New York University School of Medicine proposed a link between the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut and a reduced risk of colon cancer.
And a research team from the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, at Colorado State University, added that baked beans also contain nutrients apigenin and daidzein.
These nutrients may also help to protect against colon cancer.
The NHS states that approximately three heaped tablespoons of baked beans make up one of your five-a-day.
Eating any more than this will not contribute further to your five-a-day goal.
Where possible, it’s recommended to choose the lower salt variety of baked beans.
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