HEALTH AND WELLNESS

‘Njahi’: Black beans could improve your insulin sensitivity - study

When this sensitivity reduces in the blood, it could cause type 2 diabetes or prediabetes

In Summary

•The mice that were fed one half cup of cooked black beans a day, equivalent to a human being portion which saw an 87% drop in insulin resistance

•There was a 28% drop in bad cholesterol which is responsible for heart disease, heart attack and stroke and improved gut bacteria 

Black beans and Yellow beans on a display
Black beans and Yellow beans on a display
Image: MARGARET WANJIRU

Black beans, commonly known by Kenyans as “Njahi’ is what experts are now referring to as the miracle food as it improves insulin sensitivity.

According to a research study conducted by the USDA Agricultural Research Service, this legume that contains a significant amount of dietary fibre, protein and other essential nutrients is a great superfood for diabetics.

The research, which was conducted on obese mice, showed that the animals’ sensitivity to insulin improved dramatically when cooked black beans were added to their high-fat diet.

The mice that were fed one-half cup of cooked black beans a day, equivalent to a human being portion saw an 87% drop in insulin resistance.

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Insulin is a hormone that is responsible for moving glucose into muscles, fat and liver for energy production, especially after eating.

When this sensitivity reduces in the blood, it is then called insulin resistance which can lead to type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.

A patient undergoes a blood test at Coast General Hospital on World Diabetes Day
MONITORING: A patient undergoes a blood test at Coast General Hospital on World Diabetes Day
Image: FILE

There was a 28% drop in bad cholesterol which is responsible for heart disease, heart attack and stroke and improved gut bacteria in the bean eating mice as well as a decrease of bacteria associated with inflammation.

Those that fed components from the black beans did reap the same benefits.

"This research suggests that eating even a small amount of black beans can have multiple health benefits," said ARS research chemist Wallace Yokoyama with the Healthy Processed Foods Research Unit of the Western Regional Research Center in Albany, California.

Yokoyama led the study, which was published in the scientific journal Foods.

From the research, it appears that chronic inflammation is believed to be the basis for insulin resistance and other metabolic diseases and black beans does well in controlling those inflammatory responses.

Do remember to soak the beans longer and cook them well before eating, to avoid gases and bloating which is a common symptom associated with legumes.

Remember, moderation is key and it is better to eat a diet with a variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.

Cooked black beans, rice and avocado
Cooked black beans, rice and avocado
Image: MARGARET WANJIRU