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Costs are low, benefits high with legumes

7 foods thare said boost your mood (dark chocolate salmon/sardines walnuts potatoes/sweet potapumpkseeds lentils/beans) studio. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

7 foods that are said to boost your mood (dark chocolate, salmon/sardines, walnuts, potatoes/sweet potato, pumpkin seeds, lentils/beans) in studio. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

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Updated: July 21, 2012 6:04AM

The inexpensive legume family, which includes beans, peas, peanuts and lentils, has priceless benefits:

† Legumes are rich in folic acid, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc and antioxidants.

† Their high protein and complex carbohydrates provide steady energy that lasts for hours.

† They are especially high in soluble fiber, and a daily serving of cooked beans may lower blood cholesterol by as much as 18 percent, decreasing the risk of heart disease.

† Most legumes also contain protease inhibitors, compounds thought to suppress cancer cells and slow tumor growth.

† And then there are the prebiotics in beans, substances that aid in beneficial bacteria growth in the intestine.

† All legumes, and especially soy, are important in vegetarian diets for their high protein content.

But best of all, beans taste great. Dried beans have a superior taste and texture but they take longer to cook. Canned beans offer a quick alternative and most of the same health benefits. Rinse canned beans with water before cooking and you’ll remove as much as 40 percent of the sodium used in processing.

Scripps Howard News Service

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