Pinto Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) as a Functional Food: Implications on Human Health
Most foods are considered functional in terms of providing nutrients and energy to sustain daily life, but dietary systems that are capable of preventing or remediating a stressed or diseased state are classified as functional foods. Dry beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) contain high levels of chemically diverse components (phenols, resistance starch, vitamins, fructooligosaccharides) that have shown to protect against such conditions as oxidative stress, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and many types of cancer, thereby positioning this legume as an excellent functional food. Moreover, the United States has a rich dry bean history and is currently a top producer of dry beans in the world with pinto beans accounting for the vast majority. Despite these attributes, dry bean consumption in the US remains relatively low. Therefore, the objective of this manuscript is to review dry beans as an important US agricultural crop and as functional food for the present age with an emphasis on pinto beans.