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Beans, Beans,
The Magical Fruit...

Today is National Bean Day…. Who knew? 

The whole nation eating beans may sound like a scary prospect, but truly, what a good idea to get people more familiar with beans.

Beans are some of the most underrated foods on the planet, and they have a bad rap.

(Scroll down for links to recipes.)

They are excellent sources of dietary fiber, folate, protein, B vitamins and many other important vitamins and minerals. They’re also low in calories.

Many scientific studies have shown that eating beans has a number of health benefits, including reducing cholesterol, decreasing blood sugar levels, and increasing healthy gut bacteria. Also, they can help reduce weight and potentially even the risk of cancer, especially when they replace red meat in the diet. Some of these studies found:

  • When participants ate a pasta meal that contained lentils, they ate significantly less during the meal (fullness factor) meal and had lower blood sugar than those who ate the same meal without lentils. 
  • People with type 2 diabetes found that eating kidney beans with rice significantly reduced the spike in blood sugar after the meal, compared to rice alone.
  • Lentils benefit gut health by improving bowel function and slowing the rate that the stomach empties, which could help with digestion and prevent spikes in blood sugar 
  • Eating 1/2 cup of pinto beans per day for eight weeks significantly reduced both total cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood.
     
(These studies were based on certain types of beans, but ALL of the beans are beneficial. Eat the ones you love the most…)

Beans are a great replacement for meat as a source of vegetarian protein. So, they’re good for the body AND good for the environment as well! 

Note – To make the protein in beans a complete protein, (meaning they contain all 9 essential amino acids,) combine them with a whole grain or nuts and seeds. For example, a whole grain such as brown rice combined with beans will give you all 9 of the essential amino acids.  And although quinoa isn’t actually a grain, but a seed, it DOES combine with beans to make a complete protein. 

Some easy to do combos (many of which you’re probably already doing) are:
  • Whole grain pita bread and hummus
  • Peanut butter on whole grain toast
  • Whole grain crackers with white bean dip
  • Spanish rice with black or pinto beans
  • Split pea soup with barley

The list really goes on and on… And it isn’t actually necessary to have the combos together… You might have oatmeal in the morning and lentils for lunch. That’ll do it. But if you’re not into planning, having the grain with the bean or legume at the same time will keep you on track!

You may have heard that beans are harmful based on the fact that they contain lectins. Well, yes, they do, but these lectins are almost completely destroyed by cooking. Most people, that I know of, do not eat beans raw! 

So, join in on the national craze! Throw them in salads, add them to pasta, mash them with some lemon, garlic, olive oil and spices for a dip or spread. 

Tip
, if you're not used to eating much fiber, do take it slow and increase your intake little by little.


Want some recipes to help you on the bean train?

Beanie-Boy Oatmeal Cookies
Red Lentil Brownies
Tutty-Fruity-Power Cubana Ensalada
This Ain’t Your Mama’s (Cauliflower) Salad

Want more?  Go to my website and in the Search Box enter BEANS or the type of bean you're looking for, such as LENTIL or GARBANZO.

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