Beans are one of those foods that are easy to pass over at the grocery store. Sure, they’re cheap, but with big cuts of meat just an aisle over they’re quite easy to pass up. But take a closer look – those bags of dried beans and legumes hold a nutritional powerhouse that can transform your diet, your body, and your health. Read on for some of the biggest reasons why you should eat more beans.
They’re a Great Source of Vitamins and Minerals: It’s easy to associate a luscious piece of fruit or a colorful vegetable with the essential nutrients our bodies need, but the humble bean can pack in just as much nutrition as fruits and veggies. In fact, a cup of beans can count towards the recommended five servings of fruits and veggies a day. Beans (and their cousin lentils) are a great source of folate, potassium, iron, and magnesium.
They Keep You Regular: Yes, it might not be the most palatable of reasons to eat beans, but it’s one of the most important. Beans and legumes are chock full of fiber, which is the roughage your body needs to make sure your digestive tract keeps moving. A cup of lentils, black beans, or split peas all offer at least 15 grams of fiber a serving – that’s more than half of the fiber you need in a day! As such, regular consumption of beans can help eliminate digestive problems like constipation and can greatly improve the health of your colon.
They’re Full of Protein: Vegetarians have always loved beans for their high protein content, but even meat lovers can benefit from what they have to offer. A cup of black beans has over 15 grams of protein per cup. This is not as much protein as you’d get out of a big, juicy steak. However, by forgoing meat and opting for beans you’ll also forgo the saturated fat and cholesterol that come with many cuts of meat. As a result you’ll lessen your risk of heart disease.
They Can Help You Lose Weight: If weight loss is your goal, there’s no better sidekick than a serving of beans. As we’ve stated before, beans are full of protein, fiber, and vitamins. What hasn’t been said, though, is that beans are low in calories and virtually fat free. An average cup of beans has between 200 and 230 calories. Yes, that’s more calories than an apple, but the protein and fiber that you’ll get in return will keep you full for a long time. If you’re looking to use calories efficiently, beans are tough to beat.
They Help Lower the Risk of Certain Diseases: A diet that’s high in bean consumption can lead to a reduced risk for many common (and sometimes deadly) diseases. A standout benefit is their ability to reduce cholesterol due to their high fiber content. People who suffer from diabetes will also benefit from the blood sugar regulating effect the fiber in beans can have after a meal. In 1991 and 1995, the Nurse’s Health Study II found that women who regularly ate beans and legumes had a lower occurrence of breast cancer than their non-bean eating counterparts. Finally, bowel problems like constipation can become a thing of the past when beans are eaten regularly.
They Taste Great: If all the above was not enough to convince you that beans are a worthy addition to your diet, then take a look at all the delicious ways they can be prepared! Chick peas can be puréed into humus for a delicious and quick dip. Black beans and kidney beans can be added to soups, stews, and chilies for an extra punch of texture and protein. Legumes can be added to ground beef to give it more bulk and make it go further. You can even get your hands on some bean flour to make breads, muffins, and pasta. There’s no end to the delicious ways to add beans to your diet.
While the humble bean may remain the butt of many jokes, there’s no reason to skip over it while grocery shopping. They’re an affordable, nutritious and completely delicious way to enhance your diet. There’s no reason to leave them sitting on the shelf – take some home today.