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Cholesterol Vs. Beans

By Emilia Klapp, American Dietetic Association Registered Dietician:


For centuries, legumes or dry beans, have played an important part in the fight against heart disease in the Mediterranean countries.  Here’s why… 

  • Legumes contain essential minerals and vitamins such as iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, zinc, potassium, folic acid, and some of the B-complex vitamins.
  • They are low in fat and sodium, which make them an ideal food to keep high cholesterol and high blood pressure at bay.
  • Legumes are also high in soluble fiber, the kind that lowers cholesterol.
  • They can help balance your budget because they are very inexpensive.
  • Studies show that people who eat dry beans regularly have a lower risk of suffering from heart attacks than the ones who barely eat them. In fact, one study showed that consuming legumes four times or more per week, compared with less than once a week, lowered the risk of heart disease by 22 percent.


As you can see, dry beans are an almost perfect food.


How Eating Legumes
Will Help You Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease


1. Dry beans contain high amounts of soluble and insoluble fiber

Soluble fiber means that the fiber dissolves in water and forms a jelly-like paste with other foods in the intestine. This feature is very important because it reduces the amount of cholesterol circulating in your blood. Soluble fiber not only lowers LDL cholesterol, the “bad” guy, but it also raises HDL cholesterol, the “good” guy.   

Insoluble fiber does not have any effect on cholesterol but it is very beneficial for our whole body because it acts as a natural laxative


2. Dry beans help remove toxic waste and cholesterol in you system. 

Bile, produced by the liver, is a substance necessary to break down the fat we ingest in food. To produce bile, the liver grabs the cholesterol from the blood, converts it into bile, and sends it to the gallbladder where it’s stored until needed. Then, when we eat, the gallbladder sends the bile to the intestines to help break down the fat portion of the food. Once the bile has done its job in the intestines, one of two things can happen: 

  • If our meal has enough soluble fiber, the fiber grabs the bile and takes it out of our body through the feces. Once the bile is eliminated, the liver responds by drawing more cholesterol from the blood to make new bile. The result is less cholesterol circulating in our system.
  • If our meal does not have enough soluble fiber, the bile is not taken out of the body. In this case, the liver doesn’t need to draw more cholesterol from the blood to produce more bile because there is plenty available in the system. The result is more cholesterol navigating in our blood vessels.


3. Dry beans stops cholesterol from even forming.

When our meal includes soluble fiber, bacteria in the colon ferment it. This fermentation produces certain compounds that prevent the formation of cholesterol in the first place. This results in lower levels of cholesterol circulating in your blood vessels.


4. Dry  beans stop homocysteines from causing heart attacks.

Homocysteine is a substance our body needs to produce certain compounds vital for our organs to function properly. To produce homocysteine, our bodies need adequate amounts of vitamin B6, B12, and folic acid. However, when any of these vitamins is lacking, homocysteine is not converted into the necessary compounds. It then spills into circulation. 

Many studies have shown that when homocysteine accumulates in our system, it becomes toxic. Even in small amounts, it will dramatically increase your risk of heart disease. High levels of homocysteine concentrations in our blood may cause a heart attack or a stroke, even among people who have normal cholesterol levels. Here’s how…


How can homocysteine cause heart attacks?

Abnormal levels of homocysteine can:

  • Damage the inner lining of your arteries.

  • Promote blood clots.

  • Oxidize LDL cholesterol.


How to Lower Cholesterol, Prevent Homocysteine from Accumulating in Your Blood, & Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

Eat foods that contain folate, as well as vitamins B6 and B12. Legumes are an excellent source of folate and contain moderate amounts of B6. Recent data show that the practice of fortifying foods with folate has reduced the average level of homocysteine in the U.S. population. 

Based on studies conducted during more than 25 years, nutrition experts at the Michigan State University concluded that eating 2 to 4 cups of cooked dry beans every week can protect us against heart disease. So start eating dry beans, garbanzo beans and lentils today.


About the Author 

With her new book, “Your Heart Needs the Mediterranean Diet”, American Dietetic Association Registered Dietician Emilia Klapp has helped thousands of people just like you lower high blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels and remove the risk of heart disease. For more information on the book and to receive a free especial report on the “Top 10 Mediterranean Curative Ingredients” go to:


See also: Reducing Cholesterol


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