What do I mean? According to Dan Buettner, who found people that are the longest-lived on the planet and wrote about them in his first book, The Blue Zones, Nine Lessons for Living Longer, "beans are the cornerstone of every longevity diet." He has a new book, too, The Blue Zone Solutions, Eating and Living Like the World's Healthiest People. *
A Healthy Diet Includes Beans
Why might beans be one of the keys to longevity? Let's take a quick look at beans.
It turns out one reason is that beans are low on the glycemic index and therefore, helps control blood sugar levels, probably because they have so much fiber. And, why is fiber so good?
- Whether or not you believe that cholesterol is a bad thing, the fact remains, the soluble fiber from beans reduces cholesterol. (1)
- Fiber lowers breast cancer risk and reoccurrence. (2)
- Fiber feeds the most beneficial bacteria in our gut and shuts out dangerous ones like those that proliferate when you eat meat. It is now thought that these bacteria (the "bad" ones) are contributing to heart disease by setting up a mechanism whereby TMAO, a byproduct of these bacterial metabolisms, is created. And, "TMAO has been associated with atherosclerosis, a disease in which plaque builds up inside the arteries." (3)
- Fiber from beans, and other sources of fiber like veggies, can lower body fat and control weight by making you feel full faster, longer.
Hummus is a Versatile Snack!
Use the oil-free hummus as a dip with crackers or cut veggies. Put it on sandwiches as a spread. Make it into a salad dressing. Make it weekly!
And, what about the gas, you say... According to Dr. Michael Greger, in his article, Beans and Gas, Clearing the Air, "intestinal gas is normal and healthy," "Long-term, most people bulking up on high-fiber foods do not appear to have significantly increased problems with gas. In the beginning, though, “A little bit of extra flatulence,” reads the Harvard Health Letter, “could be an indication that you’re eating the way you should!”
The claim from the Paleo camp that beans are not good for you because they weren't part of our ancestral diet and they contain toxic nutrients just doesn't stand. These nutrients are not present in cooked beans and who eats them any other way? It's also coming to light that our ancestors actually did eat legumes.(4)
Eat from 1/2 to 1 cup of beans EACH day. Buy them canned, in BPA-free cans if you can, or freshly made and you'll reap the benefits of these delicious, nutrient-packed little packages.
Read more about eating beans in this article, Why You Should Eat more Beans.
And now, for the HUMMUS FORMULA
There are many variations on this theme, but here are some basic suggestions. Put all into a food processor and blend until smooth.
- Use 1, 15 ounce can of any kind of beans or 2 cups cooked fresh (garbanzo beans are most popular, but use any kind. Even soybeans work).
- Leave them plain or add other veggies of your choice - roasted red peppers, cooked squash or beets, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach
- Traditionally add 2 tablespoons of tahini (ground sesame seeds), but NO EXTRA OIL. It's NOT NEEDED!
- Add 2-4 Tablespoons (depending on your preference) of lemon or lime juice for tang and more plain water to thin it to the right consistency.
- Add herbs and spices such as fresh basil, parsley, tarragon, red pepper flakes for spice, or cumin and garlic (fresh is best)
- Mix and match any of the above.
* Note: I am not in any way affiliated with The Blue Zones and Dan Buett