Even though many of us are familiar with folate and its positive effect on reducing birth defects, there’s increasing evidence that this B-vitamin, naturally found in abundance in beans, may also be important in reducing the risk of vascular disease and coronary death.
Canadian research has linked low blood levels of folate to increased odds for fatal coronary heart disease. A study of more than 5,000 people found that those in the quarter of the group with the lowest folate levels were 69 percent more likely to die of a coronary problem than those in the quarter with the greatest reserve of the vitamin. The data shows that as folate levels dropped, risk of death rose in a stepwise fashion. Folate appeared most protective in women and in people under age 65. An interesting finding in all age groups was that risk increased even at folate levels that are presently considered normal. The study was published in the June 26, 1996 issue of JAMA (Vol 275, pp. 1896-1896).
In a 1995 review of work exploring the relationships among homocysteine levels (homocysteine is an amino acid in the blood), folate and blood vessel disease (JAMA, vol. 274, pp. 1049-1057), University of Washington researchers proposed that increasing folate intake might prevent as many as 50,000 heart attack deaths a year. Folate may protect against heart disease because it breaks down homocysteine and allows it to be cleared from the blood stream. Among the studies reviewed by the University of Washington was Tufts University research which showed for the first time that inadequate intake of folate is the main determinant of the homocysteine-related increase in the risk of carotic blockage.
Because our bodies do not produce folate, it’s important to get it from the foods we eat. Foods high in folate include beans, leafy green vegetables, fruit and fruit juices, and whole cereal grains. Of all these, beans are the most concentracted source of folate. A mere cup of beans is packed with almost half the folate needed for a day.
How much folate?
|Bean Variety (Cooked)||Folate (mcg/cup)|
* Source: National Nutrient Databank of the USDA
Information refers to cooked, dry packaged beans
Want to know more about storing and soaking dry packaged beans?
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Want to know more about cooking dry packaged beans?
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