1. Keep your heart healthy
The number one killer in the United States is heart disease: According to the US CDC, 610,000 people die from it every year – that is about one out of every four deaths.
The cause is clogged arteries, and things like calcium, plaque, and fatty acids can do the damage.
“There is no one magic food that acts like Drano and cleans out the accumulated plaque,” says Florian Rader, MD, a cardiologist at the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles.
“But good habits can help slow down that process, and maintaining a healthy weight and diet is one factor you can control to a great degree. And,” he says, “It’s never too late to start.”
You can start the path to heart health by looking at your alcohol intake. Red wine may protect you from heart disease, but some people shouldn’t drink it at all.
It’s been more than 20 years since the US FDA approved heart-healthy claims for these whole grains, and research keeps uncovering new benefits.
The main one, says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You from Label to Table, is their rich supply of soluble fibre, which has been shown to lower bad LDL cholesterol levels.
Why that’s good for your arteries, according to Dr. Rader: “Cholesterol can seep into the inner layer of blood vessels and form plaque over time.”
Since most Americans fall chronically short on fibre, the four grams per cup that oats deliver are a welcome addition.
Fibre is a key ingredient to a bloat-free belly.
In addition to being a great source of soluble fibre – black beans have three times as much of it per cup as oats – studies have found that bean-rich diets may help make arteries more elastic, contributing to lower blood pressure.
Another perk: Antioxidants, which are especially abundant in colourful varieties such as black beans and red kidney beans, may fight the inflammation that contributes to heart disease.
Black beans not already part of your cooking repertoire? Try this delicious lamb and black bean dish.