Pinto beans can be a healthy protein source. Eating 1/2 cup of pinto beans adds 8 g of protein to your daily intake. You will also get 8 g of dietary fiber without any fat or cholesterol from 1/2 cup of plain cooked pinto beans. Eating large amounts of pinto beans, however, can cause side effects, both negative and positive.
Pinto beans may cause intestinal discomfort and gas. Beans naturally contain gas-causing substances and large amounts of fiber, both of which can lead to an increase in stomach cramping and flatulence. The Centers for Disease Control recommends soaking dried beans and changing the soaking water several times to cut back on the gas-causing properties found in pinto beans. Canned pinto beans tend to produce less intestinal gas than dried beans as well. Talk to your doctor about taking an over-the-counter enzyme tablet before eating pinto beans to help reduce stomach discomfort.
Slowed Tumor Growth
Pinto beans contain polyphenols, which are antioxidants that can prevent some forms of cancer, according to an article in the January 2005 issue of "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition." Pinto beans specifically contain kaempferol, a flavonoid that helps reduce inflammation. The antioxidants found in pinto beans may slow the growth of tumors and increase the survival rate of healthy cells.
Increased Iodine Levels
If you suffer from thyroid cancer, your doctor may suggest that you avoid eating large amounts of pinto beans. Because thyroid cancer is treated with iodine radiation, avoid adding extra iodine to your diet during treatment. The Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association states that pinto beans are naturally high in iodine. Consuming excess iodine during thyroid cancer treatment can reduce the effectiveness of the radiation because your body may not use all of the administered iodine in the treatment if your iodine levels are already high.
Reduced Heart Disease Risk
Consuming 1/2 a cup of pinto beans daily can help reduce your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, according to a study published in the June 2007 issue of the "Journal of the American College of Nutrition." Replacing a less healthy protein source, such as fatty meats, with pinto beans helps reduce unhealthy fats from your diet and also helps increase your intake of dietary fiber, both of which can help lower your cholesterol and possibly reduce your risk for developing heart disease.
- USDA; Pinto Beans, Dried; April 2009
- Centers for Disease Control: Vegetable of the Month: Beans
- USDA; Polyphenolic Profiles of Three Beans Varieties; Devanand L. Luthria, et al.
- "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition"; Polyphenols: Antioxidants and Beyond; Augustin Scalbert, et al.; January 2005
- PubMed.gov; Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Flavonoids; M. Hämäläinen, et al.
- Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association: Radioactive Iodine
- Whole Foods Market: Guide to Beans