Be it dried or canned black beans are available thought the whole year. Black beans could not be more appropriately named. Commonly called turtle beans, black beans carry a rich flavor that has been compared to mushrooms and a velvety texture. Black beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, like most other legumes. The high fiber content in black beans also prevent blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meals, making beans a great choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. Combined with whole grains, black beans provide virtually fat-free high quality protein. Fiber and protein are the elements of black beans most people are familiar with but that’s far from all black beans have to offer.
In addition to providing slow burning complex carbohydrates, black beans can help to increase energy by replenishing your iron stores. Although tannins in black beans may block absorption of some of the iron they contain, a single cup of black beans still contains enough iron (about 20%) that still provide benefit. Particularly for menstruating women, who are at more of a risk of iron deficiency, adding to their iron stores with black beans is a good idea. Iron is an integral component of hemoglobin, which is responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to all of the body’s cells. Iron is also a key enzyme for energy production and metabolism. Black beans also contain manganese which is also an essential co-factor in numerous enzymes that are important for energy production as well as antioxidant defenses. A single cup supplies about 38% of the daily value of manganese.
The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry published research indicating that black beans are as rich in antioxidant compounds as grapes and cranberries. When different types of beans were analyzed, researchers found that the darker the bean’s seed coat, the higher its level of antioxidant activity. Black beans were found to have the most antioxidant activity, which help to protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.
Black beans certainly contribute to your hair health. Black beans provide plenty of protein to promote hair growth as well as iron, zinc and biotin. With its heart healthy, immune boosting, and digestive health nutrients black beans can be a great addition to your hair care diet. Try including black beans with your other favorite toppings the next time you make a baked potato or blend cooked black beans with tomatoes, onions and your favorite spices to create a hearty black bean soup. Or for a quick and simple meal serve whole grain brown rice topped with black beans.
Making and Keeping Healthy Resolutions
2010 is almost over and many of us have already decided on our resolutions for the new year. It’s a time old tradition to start off the new year with a brand new resolution but most often many of us find our resolutions slipping away as the first few months of the new year pass us by. In making this year’s resolution, especially if it’s health and fitness related, keep in mind that your resolution should be reasonably attainable to help set yourself up for success instead of disappointment. Focus on small intermediate goals that will ultimately lead you down the road to your primary goal. Do not expect to be perfect (and really who is?). If a healthy lifestyle is part of your resolutions this year, then aim for a healthy lifestyle you will feel comfortable with and here’s how:
1. Take small steps. Just establishing a goal of a living a healthy lifestyle should make you feel great about yourself. To make your goal more attainable come up with smaller goals that you know you can meet each day to help keep yourself feeling positive. If the goal is too large, it’s easy to get caught up in them and feel disappointed when the results are not immediate. Instead add a plan of action that will guide you toward your goal. For example if you wish to drop 10 pounds then set yourself the smaller goal of dropping 1-2 pounds a week. Instead of saying “I will exercise more” try “I will go for a walk at lunch on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.” By taking smaller steps you can really feel a sense of accomplishment every day, and if you miss a day, you can get right back in track and avoid feeling like a failure.
2. Change for yourself! I cannot stress this enough. Any goal that you set for yourself should come from a sincere desire to change for yourself. All resolutions should be thought of as positive changes that will help you reach optimal health and well-being. This is an opportunity to look forward to a new year in a positive way and not to punish yourself for past behaviors. DON’T DECIDE TO CHANGE TO PLEASE ANYONE OTHER THAN YOURSELF!
3. Be creative. Try to find a way to exercise while you accomplish other goals. If the weather permits try walking or riding a bike to run errands that are in close proximity to your home or office. If you would like to spend more time with your family try taking family walks or let your children ride their bikes while you walk or jog. If your goal is to read more then try taking that new book with you to the gym and read while you walk on the treadmill.
4. Anticipate roadblocks and reward yourself for success. Make a backup plan for situations you can’t avoid, like bad weather or illness. Also, it’s most important that you do not let a missed day or two throw you completely off target. Just do your best to get back on track as quickly as possible, which won’t be difficult if you have set proper goals. Also reward yourself as it is easier to stick to your plan when you feel good about yourself. Reward yourself for meeting your smaller goals. For example, if you’ve eaten healthy all week, or have been sticking true to your new healthy habits thought the week, it’s ok to reward yourself with a small dessert at the end of the week.
5. Build a support system. Having a great support system is another element of importance when engaging in behavior-changing programs. Get the support of your family, friends and coworkers. If your goal involves quitting a serious addiction such as drinking, smoking or overcoming an eating disorder, get professional help and join a support group. Also remember that you are your best supporter and that you’re trying to improve your own health. Appreciate what you have and treat it a little better than you have in the past. Taking better care of your body will help you feel better and perform better at all that you do.
Whatever resolutions you make this year, keep in mind that a well planned and thought-out resolution can be useful tool to help you live your life the best way possible.
Until next week…
Happy New Year!!!