Beans Are Healthy for Your Bones

A recent study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food asked a simple question: Do people who avoid high phytate foods legumes, nuts, and whole grains have better bone mineral density? No. Those that consumed more high-phytate foods actually had stronger bones, as measured in the heel, spine and hip. The researchers conclude that dietary phytate consumption had protective effects against osteoporosis and that  low phytate consumption should actually be what's considered an osteoporosis risk factor.

Phytates are a plant compound found in beans, whole grains and nuts, that was thought to inhibit mineral absorption. Due to this absorption problem, people would soak, roast or sprout their foods containing phytates, so minerals were more easily absorbed.

For years we thought phytates were bad for us to eat.   However, that assumption was based on animal studies, completed years ago.   Recently human studies were concluded, on phytate levels in womens' bodies showing that increased levels reduced bone loss over time, and lowered the risk of fractures at the hip and spine. Phytates have the same benefit as antiresorptives a common bone loss medicine but without the many side effects.

If low phytate levels lead to bone loss, you can see their importance in our diet.   Below are some legumes that contain phytates that you can use to make great recipes, and include in your families diet.




  • Black beans

1 cup


  • Kidney beans

1 cup


  • Split peas

1 cup


  • Chickpeas

1 cup


  • Lentils

1 cup


  • Fava

1 cup


  • Edamame

1 cup


  • Green, snap

1 cup


Here's one of my favorite recipes for three bean salad.   You can make this any time of year, since beans are always available, and it's a great recipe for Memorial Day when we look for light, but full-of-protein dishes for our picnics outdoors.

Three Bean Salad Recipe

¼ cup garbanzo beans drained/rinsed

1 Tbs. vegetable oil

¼ can kidney beans drained/rinsed

¾ tsp. honey

¼ can green beans

1/8 tsp. ground mustard

¼ stalk celery sliced

1/8 tsp. garlic powder

1 green onion chopped

1/8 tsp. ground black pepper

2 Tbs. cider vinegar

1/8 tsp. onion powder


In a bowl, gently mix the garbanzo beans, kidney beans, green beans, green onions and celery.   In a separate bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, honey, mustard, garlic powder, black pepper and onion powder.   Pour dressing over the salad, and toss gently to coat.   Cover, refrigerate at least 2 hours, and gently toss before serving.

If you are following your doctors' advice, to get more whole grains and legumes, you now know that the phytates in foods will help keep your bones strong for a healthy life.


Michael Greger M.D_. How Beans Help our Bones_ Care 2 Accessed on 23 May 2014

Dietary Information on Beans Accessed on 23 May 2014