Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) are one of the most important sources of proteins, calories, B vitamins and minerals in Latinamerica.

So beans are a little difficult to categorize, they are mainly legumes but are also considered starchy vegetables, in this occasion; since they contain a significant amount of carbohydrates we are going to put them in that category.

There are several types of beans: light red kidney beans, small red bean, pinto bean, black bean, white kidney beans, among others.

Dietary fiber is a fundamental component in beans. There has been determined various beneficial health effects for the consumption of adequate amounts of dietary fiber, these effects are: reduction of cholesterol levels in blood, reduction of risk of cardiovascular diseases, fecal bulking increase, reduction of the intestinal transit time, reducing the risk of colon cancer and increased glucose tolerance which is particularly beneficial effect on diabetic.

Legumes in general are not a great source of protein by themselves, they have to be combined in order for them to complement each other and reach optimal feeding, but even though beans are not the exception to this statement, they do contain a very important protein: lysine, which is an important factor in certain illnesses, for example: hepatic dysfunction can cause a reduction in the synthesis of carnitine. Carnitine is synthesized in the liver from lysine and methionine. All long chain fatty acids in the diet consumed must be transported through the metabolic pathway of carnitine in mitochondria where they are oxidized to produce energy.

Beans are a great source of water soluble vitamins, especially thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and folic acid. It has been suggested that folic acid could be considered as a nutraceutical (nutrition and pharmaceutical). Beans are a great source of folic acid. Deficiencies in vitamin B complex lead to megaloblastic anemia which is a poor maturation of red blood cells, thus reducing the number of red blood cells and releasing the precursor cells with large nucleus. Folic acid deficiency during pregnancy can cause defects in neural rascal and a severe deficiency causes megaloblastic anemia.

Beans provide substantial amounts of thiamine to the diet, symptoms of thiamine deficiency include fatigue, irritability, weight loss, gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular complications.

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