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Are dry edible beans in your future?

“Beans can help control diseases” say specialists

19 de Janeiro de 2015 Publicada as: 17h20


“Beans are a sleeping giant,” Dr. Henry Thompson told participants at Tuesday’s Nebraska Dry Bean Growers Annual Meeting. In a time of heightened interest in our health, as well as our food sources, research in both areas might be coming together in our own communities. To prove his point, Thompson, director of the Cancer Prevention Laboratory at Colorado State University, reviewed work being done on controlling and eliminating some of the highest-risk diseases and the role dry edible beans can play in those efforts.

“Beans can help control diseases,” Thompson stated. He noted that traditional approaches have focused on organic foods, but beans can be as effective.

“We need to discover a type of bean that can do it better than today,” he said. “We need to provide evidence that will convince the establishment that this food is related to health. They need to understand beans and their nutritious value.

“Beans can be a crop for health — a vehicle of choice,” Thompson said. “Beans can fill that need. They are a staple crop, accessible and affordable.”

In addition, they are the authentic low-fat food, and as a fiber source, they are a key component of a healthy diet.

Because of these features, beans can play an important role in fighting obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart and other health issues. According to Thompson, research has already proven that beans are an excellent source for the daily fiber requirement, and he starts his day with a breakfast that includes half a cup of cooked beans, such as in a bean and egg burrito.

Thompson admits that beans have a bad reputation, but it is because people don’t understand the proper way to prepare them. Variety also matters, and research is helping find the best for helping improve and maintain good health. Among the discoveries is that beans and lentils reduce the risk of breast cancer, and that cooked beans inhibit breast cancer.

According to Thompson, the Inca strains of beans from South America are better, although all beans are good. He noted that the Andean-South America lines are better than the Middle-American, but research continues on several.

That is where Dr. Carlos Urrea, bean breeder at the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff, enters the picture. He and Thompson are working on changes to existing lines to improve health benefits of the bean. His knowledge of the world’s variety of dry edible beans enhances the research, Thompson said.

Thompson told growers they need to monitor research progress and be prepared to take advantage of the opportunities. “A lot of cool stuff is happening,” he said, citing bean a new meal and a bean drink. He noted that people tend to follow tradition, producing what has been grown for generations. However, profits could be another benefit of dry edible bean research.

“Although it may take a while to happen, when the pieces work together, if there’s money in it, we can get it there,” Thompson said. “In the meantime, we are learning how important beans are to you and me.”