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You can find so many types of beans and legumes in our supermarket and they are highly underrated food ingredients. Many people look at it as a cheap food ingredient, bland tasting and not nutritious. On the contrary, beans and legumes are one of the most nutritionally power-packed foods which give you a bang for your buck! There are so many benefits to what it can give you as you incorporate it into your diet. Here are some reasons through the lens of a dietitian.
Protein for tissue repair
Beans are a great source of protein which is important during postpartum recovery especially in supporting tissue repair whether in terms of diastasis recti, collagen-building or wound recovery.
How protein from beans differs from animal protein like pork, beef or chicken is that it’s low in saturated fats. Despite animal protein being able to provide complete protein into our diet as compared to plant-based protein, this is definitely a plus point since animal protein has higher saturated fat content which ties to the concern of where higher dietary intake of saturated fat is associated with higher LDL cholesterol levels. Thus, having a diet that has a mixture of plant-based protein as well as animal protein instead of depending solely on animal protein for adequate dietary protein intake, will allow mummies to enjoy the benefits of both types of protein while still keeping the cons of each at a minimum.
Fibre for gut health
Besides that, beans and legumes are also made of complex carbohydrates and fibre. These fibres not only help to soften stools and promote bowel movement, but they also help to provide an environment for good bacteria to thrive in the gut.
When good bacteria thrive, they produce a protective mucus barrier on the intestinal wall which reduces bad bacteria from passing through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream to cause infection.
In other words, this is how good gut health helps to support a good immune system. Besides that, good gut health is associated with a lower risk of depression. This is because the fermentation of fibres from beans, herbs, whole grains, vegetables and fruits produces short-chain fatty acids like butyrate which acts as an antioxidant that reduces radical damage to our body cells.
A meal plan while breastfeeding that supports your immune system is essential. One thing that mummies want to avoid as much as possible while recovering during postpartum and breastfeeding is falling sick easily. Falling sick does not only prolong your time of recovery, it may sometimes affect you so much that your breast milk supply may drop or you feel too tired to attend to your baby with his or her breastfeeding needs efficiently.
Iron to fight fatigue
One other source of nutrients that beans are high in is iron! Yes, the bioavailability of iron may not be as high as animal sources from red meat like beef and pork, however, it is still able to sufficiently support adequate iron intakes especially when you take them with other foods that are high in vitamin C like tomatoes, capsicums and broccoli. This is because vitamin C helps to improve the absorption of non-heme iron which is usually found in plant-based foods.
When there is sufficient iron intake, the body is able to develop new red blood cells and replenish blood that was lost during childbirth. Besides that, beans are also good sources of folate which is another important nutrient needed by the body to develop healthy red blood cells too! When there’s a sufficient amount of blood, adequate oxygen is transferred around the body and prevents you from falling tired due to low blood count.
Complex Carbs for sustained energy
Beans are also great sources of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy our body uses. As beans are made of complex carbs, protein and a little fat, it does take a while for our gut to digest.
This does not mean that it is stressful for our gut, as a matter of fact, the longer digestion allows slower breakdown of carbs into sugar which is absorbed at a moderate pace into the bloodstream to produce energy.
This avoids sugar crash and allows your body to produce energy more sustainably without oversecretion of insulin which is linked to a higher risk of developing diabetes and possibly dysregulates female reproductive hormones.
B vitamins for good mood
Beans are good sources of folate, vitamin B6 and many more. A systematic and meta-analysis showed that B vitamin supplementation has been linked with improving the mood of those who are feeling stressed.
This gives us another good reason to incorporate foods that are rich in B vitamins into our diet. So why not beans especially so when many mummies may feel stressed out during their transition in motherhood during the early months after childbirth.
Examples of ReLacto dishes with beans
ReLacto’s breastfeeding menu plan was created for mummies after finishing confinement. It is designed to support mummies who want to continue recovering without restrictive confinement dietary practice, or mummies who simply just need help with healthier food to support themselves beyond confinement where they continue to breastfeed their baby.
With these needs of mothers in mind, ReLacto’s menu is filled with nutritious food and foods that boost breast milk.
Back to beans, some of the types of beans we commonly use in our menu are of course soybeans, black beans, kidney beans and adzuki beans. Some of the favourites are:
- Wok-fried Black Bean Basil Fish
- Pork Knuckle Arrowroot Soya Bean Soup
- Chinese Yam Black Bean Pork Ribs Soup
- Red Bean Puree
- Lemon Kidney Bean Soup
Some of the foods throughout the whole menu are incorporated with foods that boost breast milk like fenugreek, fennel, ginger, garlic, moringa oleifera and green papaya.
Learn more about our lactation meal menu and packages today!