Canned Beans

canned beansBeans have are known to effectively lower serum lipid levels, possibly because they are a rich source of fibre. The reduction in serum cholesterol levels can be as high as 20% even in healthy individuals. A 1% reduction in serum cholesterol reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease ≈2%, and beans therefore show significant beneficial properties. The most commonly eaten variety of beans in Western nations are baked haricot beans in tomato sauce, however, questions remain about their health benefits because of the sugar present within the tomato sauce. To elucidate the health benefits of baked beans in tomato sauce, researchers1 supplanted the diets of 24 hyperlidipaemic subjects for 21 days with either 120g of beans with 107g of tomato sauce in divided doses (A), 120g of beans with 107g of tomato sauce in a single dose (B), or 162g of beans in 20g of tomato sauce in a single dose (C).

The results showed that the reduction in serum triglycerides were 1.4, 14.5 and 13.4% for diets A, B and C, respectively. For total serum cholesterol the reductions caused by diets A, B and C were 13.7, 17.3 and 17.0%, respectively. The mean reductions in triglycerides and cholesterol in all groups combined was 10.8 and 10.4%. Statistically both the single dose high tomato sauce and the low dose tomato sauce diets were as effective as each other, and both diets were significantly more beneficial than the high tomato sauce divided diet. There was no change in the ratio of HDL-cholesterol to LDL-cholesterol in any for any of the diets. The reduction in serum cholesterol levels was positively associated with the total and soluble intakes of fibre. Interestingly, the body weight of all subjects decreased by 1.0 to 1.5 kg over the course of the study despite there being no energy restriction.


1Anderson, J. W., Gustafson, N. J., Spencer, D. B., Tietyen, J. and Bryant, C. A. 1990. Serum lipid response of hyperlidipemic men to single and divided doses of canned beans. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 51: 1013-1019

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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