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Defining Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables: A Nutrient Density Approach
This study is an important step toward defining PFV and quantifying nutrient density differences among them. This cross-sectional study identified PFV in a 3-step process. The Blue Zones identifies a study that found:. The most nutritious beans have a wide variety and high density of nutrients important for a balanced diet. For more information about this message, please visit this page: Sign up for alerts on new posts and product updates!

Why are Beans Healthy?


Beans are also excellent sources of protein. But our protein ranking will show you which ones top our list of high protein beans.

Learn more about fiber intake , and see how much we eat on average! Fiber is important for everything from heart health and gut health to weight-loss and insulin regulation. The healthiest beans in our rankings are fiber-dense. Whole foods are advocated among nutritionists in large part due to their vast array of various nutrients packaged together in one piece.

The synergies from this natural combination of nutrients often add up to a nutritious profile greater than the sum of their parts. And fat-soluble vitamins are better absorbed when consumed with some amount of dietary fat. Another benefit along these lines are phytochemicals — a term that embodies the molecules present in plant-based foods that often serve a nutrition and biochemical purpose but are not as well characterized by nutrition science.

To rank high our list of the healthiest beans, it takes more than just a high density of one or two nutrients.

Therefore, the healthiest beans in our ranking have a high density of nutrients, but also a breadth of nutrients. They provide a more complete and well-balanced source of more nutrition than the others. Taking all of this into consideration, the French bean ranks 1 on our list of the healthiest beans!

French beans are dense with many essential nutrients. In fact, they meet your DRI for all of the minerals on our list! They also are high in all of the B-vitamins except for vitamin B12 which is only present in animal-derived products. They also contain important phytochemicals, they are low calorie and dense with fiber, and they have a heart healthy fat profile. Without further adieu, here is our ranking of the healthiest beans from best to worst.

Feel free to click and share our interactive charts! Click here to view the interactive chart ranking the healthiest beans! Beans and peas are unique foods. Because beans are so high in protein, they are considered by the USDA to be part of the Protein Food Group as well as the vegetable food group. As calculated using the protein digestibility corrected amino acid score, the top five high protein beans include winged beans, fava beans, royal red kidney beans, mungo beans, and California red kidney beans.

And although these led our leader-board, all 23 beans on our list are high protein beans containing well within the dietary reference intake range on a per-calorie basis. Click here to view the interactive chart for ranking the amount of protein in beans!

Beans are highly nutritious in large part due to their high fiber content. Fiber is important for health for many reasons. High fiber diets can improve heart health, improve gut health, improve immunity, help stabilize cardiometabolic abnormalities….

Studies have shown that diets heavy in beans can be part of a weight loss plan due in large part to their high fiber content.

Fiber can help with weight loss primarily because it leads to increased satiety. In other words, fiber helps reduce your appetite by making you feel fuller, for longer. This combo will help you keep calories down, while also helping to keep you fuller, longer. According to this ranking, the best beans for weight loss are royal red kidney beans! Other good beans for weight loss are hyacinth beans, fava beans, cranberry roman beans, and other general kidney bean varieties.

See more with our interactive charts, below! Click here to view the interactive chart for ranking the best beans for weight loss! When buying beans from the store, it is important to look at any packaging to inspect the sodium content of your beans.

Salt is often added to help preserve them. And while some sodium in diet is certainly okay even necessary , too much sodium has been linked to an increased risk of hypertension — an affliction possessed by nearly half of all Americans. With that in mind, beans are again a fantastic choice. They are all generally low in sodium. But if you are looking for beans with the lowest sodium content, look no further than Adzuki beans.

These small beans are primarily cultivated in East Asia. Other beans low in sodium are black beans and navy beans. Beans with the highest sodium content on a per-weight basis were winged beans, and beans with the highest sodium density on a per-calorie basis were mungo beans. Click here to view the interactive chart for ranking the sodium content of 23 beans!

The French bean tops our list of the healthiest beans. But also high on the list are yellow beans, great northern beans, and navy beans. Remember that all beans are excellent, nutritious additions to any well-balanced diet. Each has a unique flavor worth enjoying. Not to mention, they are versatile and typically very affordable. Our blog provides information, education, tools, and tips about all things related to nutrition, including healthy eating, disease prevention, peak performance, and personalization.

Sign up for alerts on new posts and product updates! You must be logged in to post a comment. The Health Benefits of Beans Many epidemiological studies have shown that eating beans is correlated with many markers of good health and lower rates of obesity and chronic diseases. The Blue Zones identifies a study that found: The healthiest beans have a wide variety of these nutrients. This is also important for nutrients you might want to eat less of.

Learn How to Track Your Macronutrients Your intake of dietary fats, carbohydrates, and proteins are important to keep within recommended balanced ratios. For each, and for 4 items apples, bananas, corn, and potatoes described elsewhere as low-nutrient-dense 1 , information was collected in February on amounts of the 17 nutrients and kilocalories per g of food 9. Because preparation methods can alter the nutrient content of foods 2 , nutrient data were for the items in raw form.

Second, a nutrient density score was calculated for each food using the method of Darmon et al The scores were weighted using available data Table 1 based on the bioavailability of the nutrients As some foods are excellent sources of a particular nutrient but contain few other nutrients, percent DVs were capped at so that any one nutrient would not contribute unduly to the total score 3. The denominator is the energy density of the food kilocalories per g: The score represents the mean of percent DVs per kcal of food.

Because there are no standards defining good sources of a combination of nutrients-per-kilocalories, the FDA threshold was used for this purpose. The 4 low-nutrient-dense items were classified as non-PFV. To validate the classification scheme, the Spearman correlation between nutrient density scores and powerhouse group was examined. The robustness of the scheme with respect to nutrients beneficial in chronic disease risk also was examined by comparing foods classified as PFV with those separately classified as such based on densities of 8 nutrients protective against cancer and heart disease ie, fiber, folate, zinc, and vitamins B 6 , B 12 , C, D, and E 2,4.

Of 47 foods studied, all but 6 raspberry, tangerine, cranberry, garlic, onion, and blueberry satisfied the powerhouse criterion Table 2. Nutrient density scores ranged from The proposed classification scheme is offered in response to the call to better define PFV and may aid in strengthening the powerhouse message to the public.

Messages might specify PFV to help consumers know what they are and choose them as part of their overall fruit and vegetable intake. As numeric descriptors of the amount of beneficial nutrients PFV contain relative to the energy they provide, the scores can serve as a platform for educating people on the concept of nutrient density. Expressing the nutrient desirability of foods in terms of the energy they provide may help focus consumers on their daily energy needs and getting the most nutrients from their foods.

The rankings provide clarity on the nutrient quality of the different foods and may aid in the selection of more nutrient-dense items within the powerhouse group. Foods within particular groups were studied; thus, other nutrient-dense items may have been overlooked. Because it was not possible to include phytochemical data in the calculation of nutrient density scores, the scores do not reflect all of the constituents that may confer health benefits.

Warranting study is the utility of approaches defining PFV based on the presence regardless of amount of nutrients and phytochemicals. Although nutrient density differences by powerhouse group were examined, a true validation of the classification scheme is needed. Future studies might identify healthful diets and examine correlations with PFV or look for correlations between intake of PFV and health outcomes 3.

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