Beans are truly one of Nature’s most perfect healing health supporting foods. In fact, in some countries around the world, beans are used as a main source of protein. Beans and legumes are usually grouped together and are considered to be in the same family. To make this article easier to read we will refer to legumes as beans. Some common beans are navy, pinto, kidney, garbanzo, soy, great northern and fava beans. Some common legumes include peas, lentils and peanuts. There are many reasons that we can be thankful for beans and should try and include them in our diet.
George Eisman, RD shares this information about beans: “Beans are high in complex carbohydrates, protein and fiber. Beans are low in fat (other than soy and peanuts), low in sodium (unless added to the can), and they are cholesterol free. Studies show that including beans in our diets can help us reduce our chances of getting heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and certain cancers; and help people manage their weight as well as their blood sugar levels. Flours made from beans are also nutritious ways to add more protein to baked goods. Milks and cheeses can be made from soy or other beans and is a great way to avoid cholesterol and other harmful food components, such as growth hormones (some added, some naturally there), which are present in all animal derived milks and cheeses.”*
Dry beans and canned beans do not require refrigeration so are a convenient and inexpensive source of protein. There are numerous ways to use beans in recipes. Baked beans, split pea soup and rice and bean dishes are a few of the traditional bean dishes that Americans have enjoyed for centuries. Some popular ethnic bean foods include black beans and rice, dal, falafel and hummus.
Because beans are harvested in their natural state, always sort through and rinse dry beans and legumes before cooking.* Canned beans may also be rinsed and helps to reduce salt if added to the can. It is too bad that over the years’ beans have gotten a bad reputation because they can cause flatulence (stomach gas). George Eisman, RD offers us the following helpful advice. “If you are cooking dry beans from scratch, gassiness can be reduced by boiling dry beans for about three minutes, then let them soak in that water for four to eight hours. Then pour off that water, and rinse beans. Add fresh water to cover beans and gently boil again until soft. How long will depend on the size and toughness of beans. Adding a teaspoon or so of vinegar to a pot beans after cooking can help take away the gassiness. Smaller beans have less gas producing compounds. Sprouting beans and then cooking them can reduce gassiness. Online information is available to learn how to sprout beans.” We can all be thankful and enjoy the many different types of beans and legumes; for they truly are healing and wonderful sources of plant based protein.
*Always consult your physician when changing your diet.
Compassionate Actions Project® (CAP)