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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Colorado: Researchers Study Health Effects of Rice Bran and Navy Beans

Led by Colorado School of Public Health researcher, Dr. Elizabeth Ryan, the Ryan Lab at Colorado State University studies the potential power of navy beans and rice bran to promote digestive health and to prevent metabolic alterations in obesity, heart disease and certain cancers. In collaboration with the University of Colorado Cancer Center, Dr. Ryan’s latest clinical trials confirm that people can eat enough bean- and rice bran-enhanced foods to promote gut health at levels shown to prevent colorectal cancer in animals.

Guidelines from the American Institute for Cancer Research recommend reducing the risk of cancer by eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes, such as beans. Ryan has established from these studies that eating a half-cup of beans and 30 grams of rice bran per day is enough to see changes in small molecules that can confer protection against colorectal cancer – now it is just a matter of getting people to eat them.

People may not open up a can of beans and eat them every day, but they will eat granola, cookies, pizza dough and soups made with cooked dry bean powders and rice bran that provide the same level of cancer-fighting phytochemicals, Dr. Ryan and her team confirmed in a recent study with cancer survivors, published online in the Journal of Nutrition and Cancer.

The study’s lead author, Ms. Erica Borresen and Dr. Ryan’s research associate and study coordinator, worked with colorectal cancer survivors to make sure they ate their beans and rice bran provided in meals and snacks, and that they filled out their food logs and gastrointestinal health questionnaires.

“Our participants donated their time and effort, and I want to make sure they understand they are appreciated,” said Ms. Borresen, who also earned her Master of Public Health at the Colorado School of Public Health.

The next phase of Dr. Ryan’s research examines effects of the cooked navy bean powder and rice bran on the colon tissue of people who have already had colorectal cancer and are at high risk for recurrence.

Ryan’s work integrates findings from laboratory models, companion animals and human trials as part of a research project called BENEFIT, an acronym for Beans/Bran Enriching Nutritional Eating For Intestinal Health Trials. Ryan has led BENEFIT trials in the community to boost knowledge about how these simple foods affect human health.

​Read the full story at CSU Source.