10 Best Beans and Legumes for Cognitive Functions

Best Beans and Legumes

According to the CDC, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting around 5.8 million people in the United States. Although dementia can’t be cured, research suggests that our diet might play a significant role in protecting our brains.

Beans and legumes are good for the brain! We’re not just talking about green beans from the fresh produce section but about a diverse group of legumes, including black beans, chickpeas, soybeans, and kidney beans. These beans are packed with anti-inflammatory compounds that seem to be neuroprotective.

Incorporating beans and legumes into your diet can be a savory and nutritious way to boost cognitive function. Packed with essential nutrients like protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, certain varieties stand out for their brain-boosting properties.

Here are some beans and legumes that show promise for boosting cognitive function.

Best Beans and Legumes for Cognitive Function

1. Lentils

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Lentils belong to the legume family. They are a good source of B vitamins, folate, iron, and potassium. They also contain high levels of protein and fiber. Lentils are relatively quick and easy to prepare, and their low cost makes them an accessible form of high-quality protein for many people around the world.

Lentils are a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that stimulates brain growth and controls blood sugar. 100 grams (g) of cooked lentils contains 116 calories (kcal), 9.02 g of protein, and 0.38 g of fat.

2. Chickpeas ( Garbanzo beans)

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The chickpea or chick pea (Cicer arietinum) is an annual legume of the family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. Its different types are variously known as gram. Consumers of chickpeas and/or hummus have been shown to have higher nutrient intakes of dietary fiber, polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, potassium, and iron as compared to non-consumers.

They help with digestion. Chickpeas are high in dietary fiber, especially a soluble fiber called raffinose. They can help lower cholesterol. Soluble fiber is good for more than gut health and lowers your cancer risk. They give you stronger bones and boost your mental health.

There are 180 calories in 100 grams of Chickpeas.100 grams of chickpeas soaked in water contain approximately 17.3 grams of protein. This is a great source of plant-based protein, which can help to support muscle growth and repair, as well as provide essential amino acids for overall health and well-being.

3. Black Beans

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Black beans are also called turtle beans, caviar criolla and frijoles negros. Black beans are rich in protein. beans are high in protein and fiber. The iron, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, and zinc in black beans all contribute to building and maintaining bone structure and strength.

The folate and magnesium content in black beans supports brain health and cognitive function. Folate plays a role in neurotransmitter function, while magnesium is essential for nerve transmission and muscle contraction. There are 341 calories in 100 grams of Black Beans. Calorie Breakdown:

  • 4% fat
  • 72% carbs
  • 25% protein

4. Kidney Beans

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The kidney bean is a variety of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) named for its resemblance to a human kidney. Kidney beans are rich in a variety of important nutrients, including Iron, Manganese, Folate, Phosphorus, and Thiamine (Vitamin B1).

Kidney beans and pinto beans contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which may promote healthy brain function. These fatty acid chains may help regulate neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which can keep your brain happy, healthy, alert, and cognitively sharp.

Kidney beans are a good source of protein and are mainly composed of fibers and carbs. 100 grams of cooked beans contain 127 calories. The other nutrients present include:

  • 67% water
  • 8.7g of protein
  • 22.8g of carbs
  • 0.3g of sugar
  • 6.4g of fiber
  • 0.5g of fat
  • 30.17g of omega.

5. Soya Beans

what are beans good for

The soybean is a species of legume native to East Asia, widely grown for its edible bean. Soybeans are high in protein and a decent source of both carbs and fat. They are a rich source of various vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds, such as isoflavones.

For this reason, regular soybean intake may alleviate the symptoms of menopause and reduce your risk of prostate and breast cancer. soy isoflavones improve overall cognitive function and memory.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 100 grams (g) of cooked green soybeans without salt contains:

  • 141 kilocalories
  • 12.35 g of protein
  • 6.4 g of fat

6. Pinto Beans

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The pinto bean (/ˈpɪntoʊ/) is a variety of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris). In Spanish, they are called frijoles pintos. Pinto beans are free of gluten and cholesterol and are rich in protein, fiber, and folate.

Pinto beans also have essential nutrients such as iron, magnesium, thiamin, zinc, and calcium. They are low in fat and sodium when they are prepared without any salt and additives. Beans—especially kidney beans and pinto beans contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which may promote healthy brain function.

These fatty acid chains may help regulate neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which can keep your brain happy, healthy, alert, and cognitively sharp. 171 grams(1 cup) of cooked pinto beans has:

  • Protein 15 grams
  • Fat 1 gram
  • Sodium 407 mg
  • Thiamine 28% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • 245 calories.

7. Peas

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Pea (Pisum in Latin) is a pulse, vegetable, or fodder crop, but the word often refers to the seed or sometimes the pod of this flowering plant. Peas are a good source of vitamins C and E, zinc, and other antioxidants that strengthen your immune system.

Other nutrients, such as vitamins A and B and coumestrol, help reduce inflammation and lower your risk of chronic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. Beans, peas, and lentils are amazing sources of fiber, plant protein, and slow-digesting carbohydrates to fuel brain function and physical activity.

Heart Health Essentials Beans and Legumes

Legumes also contain phytochemicals such as isoflavones that are associated with improved memory and mood. peas contain just 68 calories per 100g and are saturated fat-free, and a cup of green peas contains about 8 grams of protein.

8. Navy Beans

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The navy bean, haricot bean, pearl haricot bean, Boston bean, white pea bean, or pea bean is a variety of the common bean. Navy beans are a rich source of folate, magnesium, potassium, and other nutrients that help with weight loss, trigger metabolism, and regulate blood sugars.

Navy beans contain phosphatidylserine, a phospholipid type that contains amino and fatty acids. These essential molecules increase the levels of brain chemicals that work to improve memory and brain cell communication.

Research suggests that phosphatidylserine may help slow down age-related cognitive decline. 100 grams of dry navy beans provide

  • 15% of calcium
  • 69% of iron
  • 62% of manganese
  • 58% of phosphorus
  • 33% of zinc
  • 67 calories

9. Edamame

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Edamame is a Japanese dish prepared with immature soybeans in the pod. Edamame is a rich source of several essential nutrients, including common vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium, and potassium. Magnesium and potassium are commonly low in most American’s diets due to overreliance on ultra-processed foods and underconsumption of fruits and vegetables.

Beyond its protein content, edamame is also teeming with fiber, folate, iron, choline and plant compounds called isoflavones that may benefit your brain health. In fact, a 2020 study published in Nutrition Reviews noted that soy isoflavones may improve cognitive function, namely memory, in adults.

There are 67 calories in 20 grams of Dry-Roasted Edamame, with 8 g of carbohydrates, 0.9 g of fat, and 9 g of protein.

10. Mung Beans

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The mung bean (Vigna radiata), alternatively known as green gram, mungo bean, or mongo bean, is a plant species in the legume family. Mung beans are also rich in potassium, copper, thiamin (vitamin B1), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, and manganese.

They provide smaller amounts of selenium, calcium, choline, and vitamin K. Mung beans are also a good source of B vitamins that are necessary for a range of bodily functions and help maintain the brain’s health. 1 cup(202g) boiled Mung Beans contains

  • Calories: 212
  • Fat: 0.8g
  • Sodium: 4.04mg
  • Carbohydrates: 38.8g
  • Fiber: 15.4g
  • Sugars: 4.04g
  • Protein 14.2g


In conclusion, incorporating beans and legumes into one’s diet can significantly benefit cognitive functions. Additionally, black beans, packed with antioxidants and flavonoids, protect brain cells from oxidative stress, enhancing cognitive performance. Incorporating a diverse range of beans and legumes into meals provides a holistic approach to supporting cognitive functions, making them essential components of a brain-boosting diet.

Eating beans and legumes offers numerous health benefits, particularly for the brain and nervous system. As a staple food group, these fiber-rich foods help in blood sugar control and blood pressure regulation, which are crucial for protecting brain health and heart health.

Among the healthiest beans, green beans stand out for their ability to improve gut health, contributing to overall well-being. Regularly incorporating this food group into your diet not only protects brain health but also brings many health benefits, making beans and legumes a smart choice for a healthy lifestyle.

Johan Perez
Johan Perez is an experienced agriculturalist with over twenty years in the field. He holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Sciences and has contributed extensively to research on sustainable farming practices. Johan has also written for numerous agricultural periodicals, offering expert advice on farming technologies and methods. In his free time, he enjoys outdoor adventures, which often inform his professional insights into ecological agriculture.

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