Why You Should Eat More Garbanzo Beans

Why You Should Eat More Garbanzo Beans

If you have elevated blood pressure, blood glucose, triglycerides, and cholesterol, along with excess abdominal fat, you have metabolic syndrome. Authorities estimate that at least 35% of Americans have metabolic syndrome, and if you are over 60 that figure jumps to 47%! Metabolic syndrome greatly increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. However, metabolic syndrome can be reversed, or avoided altogether, by exercising and eating better.

How do you eat to avoid metabolic syndrome?

If you are currently at normal weight and wish to avoid metabolic syndrome, you will need to eat no more calorically than your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), which depends on your gender, height, weight, body composition, and activity level. If you are overweight, you will need to eat less than your TDEE until you achieve a normal weight. But knowing how much to eat is only one part of the equation; you will also have to make good choices about what, and possibly when, to eat.

The carbohydrates you consume are as important as your total caloric consumption. If you are eating a lot of refined carbs — refined flour products, sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup are the most common “villains” — then you will need to remove them from your diet because they cause your pancreas to secrete copious amounts of insulin. The net result is that your blood glucose seldom stabilizes, excess glucose is converted to visceral fat, and over time your cells become resistant to the insulin made by the pancreas. When that happens, metabolic syndrome, if it is not already present, is nearly unavoidable.

If I give up refined carbs, what can I eat that will make a difference in my health?

Switch to foods with naturally occurring carbs, like garbanzo beans. Garbanzo beans (and other beans, for that matter) are an excellent choice for several reasons:

  • They have a very low glycemic index, so they elicit a minimal insulin response. Keeping insulin low is key to taming insulin resistance and reversing metabolic syndrome.
  • They have loads of fiber, about 12 grams per cup (boiled).
  • They are relatively high in polyphenols, flavonoids, and other antioxidant compounds (especially the darker varieties).
  • Because of their fiber and protein content, garbanzo beans enhance satiety, thus decreasing total calories consumed and aiding weight (and fat) loss efforts.
  • Much of garbanzo beans’ fiber is in the form of resistant starch, which confers a plethora of health benefits, including a “second meal effect.”

What is a second meal effect?

Yes, new research suggests that garbanzo beans — all beans and lentils, actually — confer benefits in controlling blood sugar and insulin response beyond the meal in which they are consumed. Their resistant starch passes undigested through the stomach and small intestine, but is eventually digested in the large intestine by bacteria, which produce a number of short-chain fatty acids, notably butyrate and propionate, both of which are central to optimal colon health.

Resistant starch slows absorption of other carbs in a meal, sharply lowering insulin response, but also exerts a powerful effect on insulin secretion in response to the following meal, even if that’s the next day! When insulin is kept low consistently, and calories are kept in check, weight loss ensues, and insulin sensitivity is re-established.

You should probably eat at least half a cup of beans or lentils daily; a full cup would be even better! Because garbanzo beans have an exceptionally low glycemic index and abundant resistant starch, they are an exceptionally fine choice, and they’re delicious!

Kick metabolic syndrome to the curb! Live long, and live well!