Cluster beans (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba), also called Gavar, is a legume widely grown in North-Western India. Its consumption is especially widespread in Indian states like Rajasthan, Gujrat, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.
These beans are also used to produce guar gum, exported to many nations. In recent years, guar gum has found widespread use as a food additive and health supplement. Guar gum is added as a thickening agent to many commonly consumed foods. These beans are high in protein (18%), dietary fiber (32% and the rest is gum (30-33%). Guar gum is mainly extracted from the endosperm of the beans.
Most studies about the health benefits of cluster beans in India have focused their attention on whole cluster beans. However, in the west, clinical studies have mainly focused on the use of guar gum as a health supplement.
Cluster beans maintain your digestive health
Cluster beans may help with digestive health in many ways. It is rich in dietary fiber, which can improve intestinal motility and act as a prebiotic. As a result, it helps in promoting the growth of microbiota.
Its high content of guar gum also helps. Guar gum can absorb a lot of water, and it is often used in the food industry as a safe and healthy thickener. It can also protect intestinal mucosa by forming a thin protective coating over it. As a result, it may reduce intestinal inflammation and prevent leaky gut syndrome.
Cluster beans are among the most abundant food sources of dietary fiber and guar gum helping in managing gastrointestinal issues. However, new studies show it also improves the production of antioxidants in intestinal mucosa and thus promotes tissue regeneration.
Cluster beans are also suitable for those living with functional gastric disorders. These are non-infectious diseases quite common globally. Almost 50% of all gastrointestinal disorders are functional disorders. A person may complain about bloating, frequent gastrointestinal cramps, abdominal pains, constipation, and mild diarrhea in these conditions. However, doctors often struggle to find the cause. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one such example. Studies show that cluster beans rich in guar gum and dietary fiber can help in these conditions.
Cluster beans aids in weight loss
Diet high in dietary fiber may aid weight loss by helping improve gastrointestinal mobility and satiety. Similarly, guar gum is now among the most commonly used weight loss supplements in the western world. Eating whole cluster beans may be pretty good for weight loss. Moreover, consuming cluster beans has a benefit over guar gum, not only because it is rich in dietary fiber but also because it has a better safety profile.
For weight loss, you may have to consume it daily in large amounts. This can be challenging. However, its regular intake like a few times a week in larger amounts may aid in weight maintenance.
Additionally, it is worth understanding that cluster beans are good for preventing other obesity-associated conditions like reducing bad cholesterol.
Cluster beans and diabetes
Foods that are good for obesity can also help in diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes. More than 90% of people diagnosed with diabetes in India have type 2 diabetes. There are many ways cluster beans can help. They are rich in dietary fiber, guar gum, antioxidants, and some bioactive compounds that may directly help lower blood sugar levels.
Even if cluster beans do not help lower blood glucose, it is worth understanding that they are low glycemic index foods. It means that people living with diabetes can regularly consume these beans in large amounts.
In the Indian context, it is vital to understand that they would help in diabetes only when used to replace high carb foods. Thus, one needs to eat a whole lot of beans but avoid eating too much flatbread (roti) or rice with such vegetables.
Studies show that cluster beans may help lower fasting blood glucose, HbA1C (on prolonged and regular use), body weight and may even positively affect other parameters of metabolic health.
Cluster beans lower cholesterol
Guar gum, high consumption of dietary fiber, antioxidants, and other bioactive compounds in cluster beans can help lower cholesterol. Additionally, it seems that it has some bioactive compounds that may directly impact blood cholesterol levels.
Cluster beans can boost cardiovascular health in more than one way. It may help by promoting weight loss, reducing blood pressure, reducing chronic inflammation, helping reduce blood cholesterol levels. Studies show that it can reduce blood pressure a bit, too. In addition, it may lower LDL-cholesterol and even C-reactive protein.
These benefits of cluster beans could be due to their dietary fiber content, guar gum, micronutrients, antioxidants, and some other bioactive compounds. Here, it is vital to understand that although any benefit for heart health may be mild, it is pretty good for regular consumption.
Cluster beans prevent formation of gall bladder stones
In India, the gall stones problem is common in some places. The risk of gall stones is higher in obese people. However, in India, they are even common among lean people. Studies show that cluster beans help prevent cholesterol crystallisation in the bile and thus exert anti-lithogenic action.
Therefore, cluster beans could be good to consume regularly, especially if a person lives in a region where gall stones are common. In addition, these beans could be good for those also with a family history of cholangitis or other biliary system disorders.
In recent years, people have been neglecting some of the traditional foods. For example, cluster beans are among the healthy foods that must be added to a regular diet to boost metabolic health. Reduced intake of such foods could be one of the reasons for the higher prevalence of metabolic disorders in various parts of India.
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