There is more to a LEGUME than meets the eye. Legumes also referred to as beans or pulses, are also known as “the poor man’s protein”. Known mostly for keeping our colon healthy, legumes offer an array of health benefits including cancer prevention. Legumes are an excellent and economical source of protein, iron, and folate and a substantial source of magnesium and potassium, not to mention phosphorous, zinc, and copper. Dry beans, split peas, and other legumes also contain a variety of phytochemicals. Scientists are studying the phytochemicals present in legumes for their anti-cancer effects. In laboratory studies, flavonoids found in legumes have slowed the development of cancers during several stages of development. Current research suggests that cell protection may come from both directly affecting cell growth and from antioxidant activity. More research is needed, but the studies are promising. Legumes provide 20% of your recommended daily allowance for fiber. Dietary fiber plays a role in lowering cancer risk by helping with weight control and keeping the colon healthy. Weight control is important in cancer prevention because research suggests that excess body fat can increase the risk of eight types of cancers and can increase the risk of recurrence in cancer survivors. Gut bacteria feed on fiber, which produces compounds that can protect colon cells, playing a role in keeping the colon cancer-free. Total dietary fiber intake should be 25 to 30 grams a day from food, not supplements preferably. Currently, dietary fiber intake among adults in the United States averages about 15 grams a day. Legumes are a fantastic way to help meet your recommended 25-30 grams per day. When increasing fiber in your diet, do so gradually and make sure you are drinking plenty of fluid to avoid constipation.

Source: American Institute for Cancer Research