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Do we know beans?. Donna M. Winham, DrPH Department of Nutrition Arizona State University Polytechnic Mesa, Arizona, USA July 22, 2008. My interests in beans. Do beans make a difference in health? (biomedical trials) Cholesterol reduction Glycemic response or blood sugar control

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do we know beans

Do we know beans?

Donna M. Winham, DrPH

Department of Nutrition

Arizona State University Polytechnic

Mesa, Arizona, USA

July 22, 2008

my interests in beans
My interests in beans

Do beans make a difference in health? (biomedical trials)

Cholesterol reduction

Glycemic response or blood sugar control

How to keep beans in the diet?

Low-income minorities, Hispanics, AA

General consumer beliefs


topics for review
Topics for review

Review some of the known health benefits of beans

Suggest future research directions

Possible funding sources

Potential collaborations


life cycle perspective
Life cycle perspective

What is it?

Long-term health effects of events and exposures in early life

In other words, recognition of the influence and effects of each life stage on later health

how does this relate to beans
How does this relate to beans?

Diet and lifestyle effect

child growth

disease risk

length of life

Important: Behavior patterns in childhood continue as adults

Parents teach children food preferences and tastes


want to increase bean consumption
Want to increase bean consumption?

Focus on getting children to like them ...

Target parents to encourage beans with their children

Emphasize health benefits as appropriate for age & life stage

health benefits of beans
Health benefits of beans

Usually emphasis on middle-aged adults

Chronic diseases


Influential group for their children, grandchildren, and their elderly parents

reduction in heart disease
Reduction in Heart Disease

Epidemiology studies of legumes and reduced risk of coronary heart disease

Bazzano et al., 2001 NHANES I national data. Legumes eaten 4+ time per week associated with 22% lower risk of CHD over 19 yrs follow-up

cholesterol reduction
Cholesterol Reduction

Since 1980s, clinical studies have shown improvements in cholesterol mostly using baked beans, navy or white beans.

Chickpeas similar effect (4%)

Pinto beans more recent (~8%)

BHA funded studies- ASU & USDA-ND

cholesterol reduction10
Cholesterol Reduction

Many other varieties & species not investigated

Will they be same? Maybe – but need to investigate – black beans, red kidneys for P. vulgaris sp.

Other species? Black-eyed peas; favas; lentils, peas!

reduction in cancer risk
Reduction in cancer risk

fruit & vegetable consumption linked with cancer reduction

Seventh Day Adventist health study suggests that eating legumes >2x/week reduces colon cancer risk by 47%

(Singh & Frazer, 1998)

risk of type 2 diabetes
Risk of type 2 diabetes

Epidemiological data

Low glycemic index foods may protect against type 2 DM

(Schulze, 2004)

Legumes are high-fiber, slow release carbohydrates with a low glycemic index

glycemic index
Glycemic Index

Reference is 100

GI values of individual beans low:

Canned baked beans (48)

Pinto beans (42)

Split peas (32)

Butter beans, lentils (29)

Kidney beans (28)

Black beans (20)

beneficial effects of low glycemic index foods
Beneficial effects of low glycemic index foods

Low GI Foods may lower risk for developing type 2 DM

Improve glycemic control

Improve blood lipid profile

Improve insulin sensitivity

health benefits of beans for preconception and pregnancy
Health benefits of beans for preconception and pregnancy

High fiber

Weight control

 Satiety

 Constipation


 Birth defects

Natural source


health benefits of beans during childhood
Health benefits of beans during childhood

Folate, fiber, satiety, minerals

Higher nutrients than some foods, e.g. French fries

Time to establish bean eating habit


health benefits of beans adolescence early adulthood
Health benefits of beans- adolescence & early adulthood

Quick and easy snack or meal

Weight control


Go ‘green’


legumes linked to longevity
Legumes linked to longevity

Multi-country study

Japan – soy, tofu, natto, miso

Sweden – brown beans, peas

Mediterranean – lentils, chickpeas, white beans

7-8% reduction in mortality hazard ratio for every 20 gram increase in legumes per day

Darmadi-Blackberry et al., 2004 Asia Pacific J Clin Nut

actual consumption
Actual Consumption

Despite 20+ years of the fruit and vegetable message,

...“Mean intakes of dark green vegetables, orange vegetables, and legumes are one third or less of recommended amounts...”

Guenther PM, et al. J Am Diet Assoc. 106(9), Sep. 2006


current recommendations
Current Recommendations
  • Beans and peas are in two food groups in MyPyramid
    • Meat and Bean group
    • Vegetable group
  • 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommend that consumers triple their bean intake to three cups/week


mypyramid suggests vary your veggies
MyPyramid suggests: “Vary Your Veggies”

“Aim for this much every week:Dark green vegetables= 3 cups Orange vegetables = 2 cups Dry beans & peas = 3 cupsStarchy vegetables = 3 cups Other vegetables = 6 1/2 cups”



Mean daily intakes of fruit and vegetable subgroups, as a proportion of amounts recommended,* by adults age 31-50 years, estimated from the 1999-2000 NHANES


Total Fruits

Dark Green Vegetables

Orange Vegetables

Starchy Vegetables

Other Vegetables


*Assuming 2 servings per cup

Note: M = male and F = female

Guenther PM, et al. J Am Diet Assoc. 106(9), Sep. 2006


how to increase
How to increase?

Several directions to take to increase bean consumption



Personal health benefits

Inter-related to each other

(Not exclusive list)

many people are unaware that beans are a vegetable
Many people are unaware that beans are a vegetable

Source: TNS telephone omnibus, September 2006, n=1,004

*Excluding green beans, baked beans and Pork & Beans



Continue promotion of the ‘beans are a vegetable’ message

Not just consumers! Need to target dietitians, school lunch, nurses, MDs, other health professionals, etc.


Name and food class issues – word ‘legume’ misunderstood as is ‘bean’

Green bean consumption is good too, so should we care?

substitute beans for a starchy vegetable
Substitute beans for a starchy vegetable

White potatoes are the most common vegetable eaten by Americans – often as French fries

Beans have similarities to potatoes

Hot side dish

Satiety factor

Easy to prepare



beans for white potatoes at meals
Beans for White Potatoes at Meals?

Beans offer more than potatoes for some key nutrients such as:





...and for about the same amount of calories and a lower glycemic index

Plus beans have greater variety than white or red potatoes


research on beans and flatulence
Research on Beans and Flatulence

Based on two BHA studies using the recommended serving size of ½ cup of pinto beans, we found that:

50% or fewer of the people ever experienced increased flatulence the first week

By the 4th week of consumption, only 6-23% still had increased gas

Too much worry?



Address issues of flatulence openly with consumers

Research study needed on specific perceptions of flatulence from bean consumption by consumers

We did this, but secondary to study design


Address (mis)perceptions about dried legume varieties

Length of time to cook – crockpot; microwave; faster cooking varieties, e.g. lentils

Negativity towards canned foods as ‘unhealthy’


Must be scientifically sound and credible

Targeted across the life cycle to specific group needs

Multiple messages must not conflict

selected research gaps
Selected research gaps

Cholesterol lowering effects of other legume varieties, ex: black-eyed peas, fava beans

Need documented individual effects before proposing a mixture of legume types

Dose response – is ½ cup 2 x day ‘better’ than ½ cup?

people want foods with health benefits
People want foods with health benefits

U.S. Grocery Shopping Trends, Food Marketing Institute 2007

selected research gaps38
Selected research gaps

Legume effects on lowering the glycemic response or after meal rise in blood sugar in:

Normal people

those with diabetes

Is this solely a function of fiber or ?

selected research gaps39
Selected research gaps

Perceptions of beans by clinical and nutrition health professionals

Baseline data on opinions & knowledge

Education efforts

If not recommending, hard to boost usage by consumers

selected research gaps40
Selected research gaps

Legumes and athletic performance at several levels

Endurance athletes

Children’s sports teams, e.g. soccer, baseball

Moms want what is good for their children and sports are important to many communities

global research gaps
Global research gaps

Changes in traditional diets

Why does bean consumption decline?

Mexican women in Phoenix

Only 28% of recent immigrants surveyed eating beans 5-6 tx/wk!

93% buy bagged beans

Canned brands - Rosarita, El Mexicano

global research gaps42
Global research gaps

Iron deficiency anemia and low folate levels major health problems

Beans may improve levels

High in content, but may not be bioavailable in all situations

Further research needed because important opportunity to improve global nutrition and child outcomes

increase substitute beans as staple food
Increase/substitute beans as staple food

Many beans more nutritious than other staple food products such as cassava, taro, or rice.

Cultural acceptability of eating more beans or incorporating beans into current diet patterns

getting research done
Getting research done
  • Government programs
    • USDA – Multiple programs
  • Private foundations
    • Pfeiffer Foundation
    • Community organizations
  • American Heart Association
  • American Diabetes Association
getting research done45
Getting research done
  • Change your angle to fit available funding
    • Beans – good quality food
    • Match to the health needs and/or media topic
    • Results in increased sales
    • Sound science, sustainable growth
who can help with research
Who can help with research?
  • Broaden contacts – not just agricultural scientists
    • Local university
      • Nutrition
      • Public Health
      • Anthropologists
      • Ethnic studies
    • Public Health agencies
      • State and county health departments
      • Women, Infants, Children (WIC)
      • Food Assistance program directors
check credibility and reliability
Check credibility and reliability

“New” researchers should be given a chance to prove themselves

Be alert to track record of researchers though – benchmarks for quality research – peer review

If sounds too good to be true, it probably is!


High nutrient value and their role in reducing the risk of certain diseases been known for decades

Yet bean consumption lags far behind recommended levels



Qualitative and survey research needed to define myths and design strategies needed to dispel them

Will aid in closing the consumption gap between recommendations and practice

Further research to answer questions and substantiate health claims to promote bean consumption based on sound science.



Look for research opportunities that benefit industry and communities as well as sales