Background: Bean consumption can reduce chronic disease risk and improve nutrition status. Consumer knowledge of bean health benefits could lead to increased intakes. Low-income women have poorer health and nutrition, but their level of knowledge about bean health benefits is unknown. Beans are a familiar food of reasonable cost in most settings and are cultural staples for Hispanics and other ethnicities. Study objectives were to assess awareness of bean health benefits among low-income women, and to evaluate any differences by acculturation status for Hispanic women in the Southwestern United States.
Methods: A convenience sample of 406 primarily Mexican-origin (70%) low-income women completed a survey on knowledge of bean health benefits and general food behaviors. Principal components analysis of responses identified two summary scale constructs representing "bean health benefits" and "food behaviors." Acculturation level was the main independent variable in chi-square or ANOVA.
Results: The survey completion rate was 86% (406/471). Most women agreed or strongly agreed that beans improved nutrition (65%) and were satiating (62%). Over 50% answered 'neutral' to statements that beans could lower LDL cholesterol (52%), control blood glucose (56%) or reduce cancer risk (56%), indicating indifference or possible lack of knowledge about bean health benefits. There were significant differences by acculturation for beliefs that beans aid weight loss and intestinal health. Scores on the bean health benefits scale, but not the food behavior scale, also differed by acculturation.
Conclusions: Limited resource women have a favorable view of the nutrition value of beans, but the majority did not agree or disagreed with statements about bean health benefits. Greater efforts to educate low-income women about bean health benefits may increase consumption and improve nutrition.