About 360 million years ago, beans began to evolve along with other flowering plants. About 20,000 years ago, when the first people came to South America, they most likely began to pick and eat wild beans. Many cultures around the world owe their development to beans.
Sometime around 7,000 to 5,000 BCE, maybe as far back as 10,000 years ago, South Americans began farming a type of pinto bean that grew on a bush. Central American farmers were growing corn and cultivated veining beans that could be supported by the corn stalks. Native Americans grew the “three sisters”, corn, beans and squash, in the same fields. Eventually, Indian traders spread the pinto bean throughout the Americas.
Pinto, meaning painted, was the name given by the Spanish due to the pinto bean’s speckled coloration. In Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, bean is known as yetl. When cooked, the speckles disappear and the bean turns a lovely pink. Pinto beans can be eaten raw, sprouted, dried and cooked or ground into flour. When the bean is combined with grain, like brown rice or corn it will yield a complete protein.
One cup of cooked pinto beans contains 15 grams of protein, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 244 calories, 15 grams of dietary fiber, 746 mg of potassium, 85 mg magnesium, vitamin B-complex, molybdenum, copper, iron, selenium, zinc and more. Pinto beans are cholesterol free and virtually fat free. Potassium is important for the contraction of all muscles including the heart and for maintaining normal blood pressure. Most people are deficient in magnesium. Magnesium is an essential mineral for staying healthy and is required for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body including the metabolism of calcium. Pinto beans will also help replenish iron to the body. Copper and manganese help to disarm free radicals. Thiamin, one of the B-complex vitamins, is needed to synthesis the neurotransmitter essential for memory, and beneficial for age-related impairment such as Alzheimer’s disease.
One cup of cooked pinto beans will supply 1/2 of RDA of dietary fiber for most adults. Pinto beans provides both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. Dietary fibers are plant cell walls that are not digestible by the enzymes in a mammal’s digestive system. The fiber passes, just about intact, through the stomach, the small intestines, large intestines and out the colon. According to Dr. Marcola,” pre-diabetics who ate 30 grams of fiber per day lost nearly the same amount of weight as those who cut calories and limited their fat intake; they also improved their cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. No exercise recommendations were provided. After one year, both groups lost about the same amount of weight. The mean weight loss for those on the AHA diet was 2.7 kilos, compared to 2.1 kilos for the high-fiber group. Both soluble and insoluble fiber helps feed the microorganisms living in your gut. These beneficial bacteria in turn assist with digestion and absorption of your food, and plays a significant role in your immune function”. Dietary fiber prevents sugar levels from rising rapidly, slowing down the digestion process and making you feel full longer. It also has heart-health benefits by lowering LDL, the “bad”, cholesterol and blood pressure. Dietary fiber increases stool bulk and relieves constipation. A diet high in dietary fiber may help prevent colorectal cancer. Adding pinto beans to your diet will be a benefit to your overall health.