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Health Benefits of Cannellini Beans

Cannellini beans, particularly popular in Italian cuisine, are large white beans with a firm texture and nutty flavor. They hold their shape well and are therefore used in soups (such as minestrone soup), salads, stews and numerous other healthy dishes. Like its relative the kidney bean, the cannellini bean must always be cooked properly as raw cannellini beans contain high levels of toxic lectins which can cause serious health problems. When boiled long enough, cannellini beans lose their toxicity and become a real super food with numerous nutritional and health benefits. The purpose of this article is to highlight some of the most important health benefits of cannellini beans and to convince you to add these powerful health promoting beans to your diet.

Beans may provide protection against colorectal adenomas

Legumes such cannellini beans may provide protection against colorectal adenomas (CRA). Colorectal adenomas are benign tumors that have the potential to become cancerous. In fact, adenomas are considered a major precursor of colorectal carcinomas, the third most common type of cancer in men and women.

Health Benefits of Cannellini Beans

Michels et al (2006) examined the association between legume consumption and the prevalence and incidence of colorectal adenoma based on data provided by the Nurses' Health Study (NHS). The sample consisted of almost 35,000 women who had undergone colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, and the data was collected using a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire. The researchers found that women who consumed 4 or more servings of legumes per week had a significantly lower incidence of colorectal adenomas than women who reported consuming 1 serving per week or less.

Cannellini beans lead the pack of low glycemic beans

All beans are considered low GI, but with a GI score of 31, cannellini beans are clearly one of the least glycemic beans, and this low GI rating is responsible for many of the health benefits of cannellini beans. The glycemic index is used to rank foods based on how they affect your blood sugar levels. When you eat foods with a high GI value (e.g. white bread, potatoes, and sugary breakfast cereals), you blood sugar will be sent up in a hurry as these foods break down with ease in the body. After peaking, the blood sugar levels drop dramatically. This volatility in blood sugar levels has been implicated in the etiology of many health problems such as insulin resistance and diabetes, increased sugar cravings, abnormal changes in mood, lack of energy, and hypertension and heart disease.

In contrast to high glycemic foods, low GI foods such as cannellini beans metabolize slowly, and provide steady energy for hours following their consumption. This in turn helps stave off cravings for sugary foods and control mood swings. But the health benefits of eating low glycemic foods such as cannellini beans do not end there: low GI foods may also help forestall diabetes in pre-diabetic people and reduce your chances of developing cardiovascular disease.

What's more, foods with a low glycemic score can help you shed off pounds, especially around the waist. When the carbohydrates in your food prompt an increase in your blood sugar levels, a pancreatic hormone called insulin is secreted by the body. Insulin helps remove excess sugar from the blood by driving sugar into the body's muscle and liver cells where it can then be used as energy or stored for later use. After consumption of a high GI meal, however, there is usually far more sugar in the blood stream than the liver and muscles can handle. To get rid of that extra glucose, insulin promotes its storage as fat in your body's adipose (fat) tissues. By contrast, low GI foods such as cannellini beans do not cause large increases in blood sugar and insulin levels, resulting in little energy being stored as fat.

Cannellini beans have a detoxifying effect on the body

Some of the health benefits of cannellini beans are linked to their high molybdenum content. Molybdenum is a trace element that plays an essential yet overlooked role in human health. By stimulating the action of detoxifying enzymes like sulfite oxidase and aldehyde oxidase, molybdenum plays a vital role in the detoxification of the body:

Aldehyde oxidase helps destroy acetaldehyde which is a poisonous and carcinogenic substance that is formed as a by-product of yeast and alcohol metabolism. Acetaldehyde is known to inhibit the action of delta 6 desaturase, an enzyme that helps convert linoleic acid into gamma linolenic acid (GLA). GLA an anti-inflammatory fatty acid that helps prevent a wide range of diseases and conditions.

Sulfite oxidase is a mitochondrial enzyme that catalyses the transformation of sulfites into sulfates. Sulfites are food additives that are sometimes added to processed foods to preserve freshness. In some people, these additives may have toxic effects. For instance, asthma sufferers may experience wheezing or shortness of breath after eating a food product containing sulfites. Sulfates, on the contrary, are non-toxic.

Cannellini beans are supercharged with antioxidants

Cannellini beans are a goldmine of antioxidants which are molecules that provide numerous health benefits. Antioxidants are thought to protect your skin and the rest of your body from free radicals, destructive atoms that invade and damage cells. The destructive actions of free radicals have been linked to the development of a number of degenerative conditions and diseases. These include cardiovascular diseases, thrombosis, atherosclerosis, immune system problems, Alzheimer's disease, arthritis, certain types of cancer, diabetes, and even dementia.

Apart from preventing and fighting off disease, the free radical inhibiting properties of cannellini beans can also help keep your skin supple and youthful by preventing loss of skin elasticity caused by too much sunlight. In response to exposure to sunlight the body produces metalloproteinases. Metalloproteinases are enzymes that help repair and remodel sun-injured collagen. However, not all metalloproteinases are beneficial: some of them break down collagen fibers, which can lead to wrinkles and fine lines. Free radicals are known to activate the collagen-damaging metalloproteinases.

In addition to providing antioxidants that help keep your skin wrinkle-free, cannellini beans deliver an abundant supply of copper and plant-based healthy protein which are among the best nutrients for fighting wrinkles.