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Health Benefits of Navy Beans

By Jill Corleone, RDN, LD

The navy bean is a type of kidney bean also known as the Boston bean or Yankee bean. It got its name after serving as an important source of nutrition to the Navy during the second half of the 19th century. As a nutrient-dense food, the navy bean is considered both a vegetable and a protein food, making it a healthy addition to your diet.

Basic Nutrition Info

Navy beans' high protein content means they can serve as an alternative to meat in your diets. Each half-cup of cooked beans contains 7.5 grams per cup. While this protein is incomplete -- missing 1 or more amino acids you need in your diet -- a well-rounded diet will protect you against an amino acid deficiency. Navy beans are also low in fat, at less than 1 gram per serving.

High in Fiber

A serving of cooked navy beans contains 9.6 grams of fiber, meeting 38 percent of your daily value for fiber. The fiber in the navy beans offers a number of health benefits. Fiber in food adds bulk to stool, improving bowel movements and alleviating constipation. Fiber can also help lower blood cholesterol levels, improving heart-health. Fiber also takes your body longer to digest, helping to control hunger and aiding in weight management. In addition, people with higher intakes of fiber have lower rates of diabetes.

Low Glycemic Index

The glycemic index ranks how food effects blood sugar. Foods with a low glycemic index, less than or equal to 55, only cause a small rise in blood sugar, while foods with a high glycemic index, greater than 70, cause a more rapid rise in blood sugar. The glycemic index is most commonly used by people with diabetes to aid in blood sugar control. But including more low glycemic index foods in your diet may lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and also aid in weight control, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Navy beans have a low glycemic ranking of 31.

Rich in Vitamins and Minerals

Not only are navy beans a good source of protein and fiber, but they can also help you meet your magnesium and folate needs. A serving of cooked navy beans contains 48 milligrams of magnesium -- 11 percent of the daily recommended intake for men and 15 percent for women. Magnesium helps control muscle function and supports your cell metabolism. Navy beans also offer a generous amount of folate, at 128 micrograms -- 32 percent of the recommended daily intake -- per serving. Folate helps you make red blood cells and plays an essential role in cell growth.

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