Start Eating Beans Now: How to Buy, Eat and Enjoy Legumes

Beans have been supper staples since the dawn of time, and were an integral part of hunger-gatherer societies. Their easy-to-store dried form made them an ideal ancient choice, as well as their abundance of fiber and nutrition. Fava beans, chickpeas, broad beans and the Windsor beans were consumed tens of thousands of years ago.

Beans, Beans, They’re Good for Your Heart

Modern eaters should take a cue from our ancestors, as more and more research shows that beans are in fact, good for your heart, especially when eating in combination with a healthy diet. Beans are good source of protein and fiber, and contain thiamine, folic acid, and vitamin E.

In 2007 the National Institutes of Health conducted a study that involved the largest U.S. investigation into the Mediterranean diet, which involves eating healthy beans or legumes three times per week. The results showed that those continuing this diet were 20 percent less likely to die of heart disease or cancer.

Beans also have a great effect on weight reduction. Best Nutrition magazine’s article about eating healthy beans to maintain weight cites recent developments that prove bean eaters weight less. “People who eat ¾ cup of beans daily weigh 6.6 pounds less than those who don’t eat beans, even though the bean eaters consume 199 calories more a day,” the article states.

Healthy beans can be added to any diet as an easy swap for traditional protein like meat or poultry. The USDA recommends men under 50 eat 6 to 6 ½ ounces of protein per day; 5 to 5 ½ ounces for women. In the world of beans, 1 ounce equal ¼ cup of dried beans.

Beans, Beans, The More You Eat The More You…

Yes, beans cause gas, in what is scientifically known as food intolerance. Beans contain a complex sugar called oligosaccharides, and the stomach lacks the enzymes to digest them. Oligosaccharides move through the digestive track to the lower intestine, where bacteria ferment the sugars and produce the aforementioned flatulence.

Commercial enzymes are available that can be taken orally, in pill form, or added to food directly in liquid form to help aid bean digestion.

Bargain Beans: Dry or Canned

Beans aren’t just good for you: they’re cheap. Most canned beans are under a buck, and a one-pound bag of dry beans, which will result in 6 cups of cooked beans, is a dollar bargain.

 

Most cooks and food experts will attest, for nutritional bang and flavor superiority, dry beans are superior to canned beans. Quick-soak cooking methods can take the time element out of dry bean preparation, and leftovers can be easily portioned and frozen until ready for the next bean recipe.

Canned beans are popular for their convenience and no-cook time. When choosing canned beans, opt for low-sodium varieties, and be sure to drain and rinse beans thoroughly before using. Remember that in any recipe calling for canned beans, the equal portion of cooked dried beans can be substituted.

Yes, the world should “eat beans at every meal.” With extreme health benefits, cost efficiency and versatile recipe options, beans are one ingredient that may indeed, be a magical fruit.