Beans are a low-cost healthy food that can be used in a variety of ways. Many people think of them as a way to stretch the budget, but they have so much more to offer than monetary savings.
You may be wondering, is it healthy to eat beans every day? Well, the answer is yes! In fact, a solid cup of cooked beans will give you about 30-40 grams of fiber. That is more than the recommended dietary allotment of 25 grams per day for adult women or 38 grams for adult men. A cup of beans can literally help you meet your dietary fiber goals for the day!
Beans, beans they're good for your heart! That's right! They really are… so here's to eating more of them!
Eating beans regularly can actually promote a healthier heart. In fact, not only do beans lower your risk of heart disease, regular consumption of beans is associated with a longer health span. Eating beans daily lowers all-cause mortality risk, according to multiple studies.
Health Benefits of Beans
If heart health is important to you, then you probably already know you need soluble fiber in your diet. The best dietary sources of soluble fiber are beans, oats, and flaxseeds.
In addition to being protective against cardiovascular disease, beans Beans also offer a good source of sustained energy.
Better Blood Sugar Levels
Yes, beans have carbohydrates, but don't let that stop you from eating them.
They also have a low glycemic index which will assist in blood sugar management, perfect for type 2 diabetes. In fact, eating a serving of beans is recommended for type 2 diabetes by the American Diabetes Association as part of the wellness plan for managing diabetes.
Cholesterol Levels and Weight Management
Beans are a high fiber food, which makes them excellent for weight loss. Yes, they contain carbs, however, if you look at net carbs, the numbers will surprise you.
Studies also show that folks tend to weigh less when they consume more fiber, so that is a plus for those trying to keep a slimmer waistline. The fiber content in beans make them one of the healthiest ways to get protein.
Lower weight means better blood pressure, lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and lower risk of other diseases. In addition, the fiber in beans lowers the absorption of cholesterol and can even contribute to better overall cholesterol numbers. Just a can per day of baked beans can lower your ldl cholesterol (the bad one) by five percent!
Eating beans regularly may reduce the risks of certain cancers due to the phytochemicals contained inside these little powerhouse superfoods.
Being high in fiber but low in calories, beans can help lower cholesterol while providing protein, antioxidants, B vitamins, folate, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, zinc, and more. Combine beans with rice and you'll have all nine essential amino acids to form a complete source of protein.
Beans contain oligosaccharides which act as a prebiotic in your digestive system. It is this very substance that can cause many people to have gas and bloating after eating beans. Oligosaccharides are a carbohydrate whose molecules are composed of a relatively small number of monosaccharide units.
Soaking the beans before cooking releases some of this substance into the water which is discarded.
Beans vs Legumes
All beans are legumes, but not all legumes are beans. Legumes are plants that bear fruit that grows in pods. Beans are seeds collected from plants. Some beans to try:
- navy beans
- kidney beans (very high in fiber)
- chickpeas or garbanzo beans
- baked beans
- white beans
- lima beans
- fava beans
- fermented soybeans
What About Phytic Acid?
Beans do contain phytic acid which can strip the body of minerals, but if you prepare them properly. Soaking beans in clean filtered water will increase the activity of enzymes which help break down phytic acid.
According to experts, the longer you soak them the easier they are to digest. Around 48 hours or more is recommended for easier digestion. This also means less of those pesky side effects, such as bloating or flatulence.
In addition, you can add baking soda to the soak water to make it alkaline which causes the cell structure to begin breaking down. This also means they'll cook faster and become softer. Adding baking soda will prevent you from having that gassy feeling after you consume beans.
Another way to make beans more digestible is to sprout them. Try this with chickpeas first. I've found they are the easiest to sprout. (Soak in water for about 12 hours, drain, rinse, then leave them in a colander over a bowl. Rinse every 12 hours until they sprout. When they are sprouted, you can cook!)
Sprouting beans is an incredibly nutritious way to eat beans.
Just because a food contains phytic acid doesn't mean you have to avoid it. In fact, Weston A Price shares information about phytic acid and how to properly prepare these nutritious foods to get the most benefit.
Preparing Dry Beans
Beans come in so many colors, shapes, flavors, and textures there should be a favorite bean out there for even the pickiest eaters. Beans are found in most civilizations dating back as far as ancient times. When families of the Great Depression couldn't afford to purchase meat, beans were used to fill the protein void.
Don't know how to prepare dry beans? It's fairly straightforward.
- Measure, then rinse the amount of beans you want to cook. Rinsing the beans first will ensure they are clean.
- Sort through as you are rinsing to make sure there are no rocks or other debris in the beans.
- Put the rinsed beans in a clean bowl and fill with water.
- Soak the beans for 4-12 hours, depending on the type of bean.
- Discard soaking water; you're ready to cook the beans.
You can cook beans in a pan on the stove, a crockpot, or even a pressure cooker like the Instant Pot.
Looking for some awesome recipes for beans? Well look no further, here is a list of delicious bean recipes!
- White Chili
- Easy Fiesta Beans
- Cowboy Pinto Beans
- Southwestern Black Bean with Mango and Quinoa
- Try your luck with black eyed peas in this recipe for Hoppin' John
- Even Martha Stewart creates something special with beans in this recipe for Red Bean Tahini Spread
- Adzuki Beans with Yam will knock your socks off!
- Black Bean and Quinoa Burrito – Gluten Free
- Minestrone Soup Recipe with Purple Sweet Potatoes – A delicious soup with veggies and beans.
- Black-Eyed Pea Fritters with Corn Salsa
- Smoky Chicken Tostados with Black Eyed Peas and Chile-Lime Salsa
Hopefully, you are eating plenty of whole grains such as oats, along with beans, and vegetables for a healthy overall diet. Keep a few bags of dried beans as well as some cooked, canned beans stocked in your pantry. They make an excellent quick meal.
What are your favorite bean dishes? Join the Healthologist Community, we'd love to have you join the conversation.