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The Surprising Connection Between Beans and Your Heart

 Heart conditions are no joke. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 out of 4 annual deaths in the US can be chalked up to heart-related illnesses, making heart disease the leading cause of death in America. Every year, about 735,000 Americans undergo cardiac arrest. Of these, 210,000 have already had one prior. 


According to research published in Heart Rhythm Journal in 2013, one prime contributor to sudden cardiac death is an elevated resting heartbeat. For most adults, the acceptable range lies at around 60-80 beats per minute, with every increase above that signifying a greater chance of experiencing heart complications.

So how can you mitigate the risks? One surefire way of decreasing your resting heartbeat is regular aerobic exercise. Be it cycling, jogging, or swimming, putting in the work and getting your sweat on may increase your heartbeat momentarily, but in the long run, it definitely helps keep you in the green zone.

But there’s another surprising way of reducing resting heartbeat; according to research published in JAMA Internal Medicine Journal (2012), regularly eating protein-rich legumes (such as beans) can lower heartbeat as effectively as regular exercise does. Who knew that children singing “beans, beans, they’re good for your heart” about the legume’s musical properties were actually right, all along?

To celebrate the healthy, potentially life-saving benefits of beans, here is a recipe (courtesy of my own mother) for a hearty meal of chili con carne:

3 cups of kidney beans
750 grams (1.6 lbs.) ground beef 
1 can chopped tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1-3 garlic cloves, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 glass of red wine
1 bay leaf
For the seasoning:
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoons hot paprika
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons cilantro, minced
½ teaspoon turmeric 
1. Soak the beans in water overnight. Cook the beans for around an hour, make sure they are covered in water.
2. While the beans are cooking, sauté the onion to a golden hue in a separate pot and add garlic, cook for an additional minute. Brown the meat in a frying pan, drain the juices and add the meat to the onions. After the beans are done cooking, put the beans through a sieve and add to the meat (you can save the broth the beans had been cooking in and add it to chili later).
3. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, and seasoning and stir. Add the wine and either water or the bean water, making sure the stew is completely covered. Stir well and cook over low heat for at least two hours.
Image source: Global Reactions
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