Beans

I love beans! I love their versatility, their flavour and the wide variety of them. But this humble food doesn’t have the star status that some other foods have despite it being inexpensive, nutritious and filling.

This week I’m taking a look at the top three reasons why you should include beans in your diet and make them one of the star foods in your diet.

I’ll also be looking at what they are, how we should cook them and ideally how much we should be eating each day. And if you think you can’t eat them because they give you wind, I’ve got a solution for that!

Read on to find out why they’re so good for us and why we should eat them regularly.

What are beans?

They’re one of the world’s oldest cultivated crops and belong to the Fabaceae family, specifically the Phaseolus genus. These include kidney, haricot, lima, butter, adzuki and mung beans as well as a few others such as black gram, rice bean and moth bean.[1]

3 Huge Reasons To Eat Beautiful Beans

  1. They’re bursting with goodness, including protein, calcium, copper, phosphorus, manganese and magnesium as well as being a great source of iron. They also have thiamin and folic acid as well as riboflavin and vitamin B6.[2] Talk about nutrient packed!
  2. They’re also packed full of fibre, both soluble and insoluble, which means they’re great at filling us up with essentially no calories. You should aim for at least 40g of fibre per day. Read more here.
  3. They’re low in fat and contain predominately unsaturated fatty acids. Just one half cup of cooked dry beans contains approximately 115 calories and provides 8 grams of protein.

How to cook them

Ideally you should buy the dried variety as they tend to have more flavour and texture, but if you’re like me and sometimes you just don’t have the time, canned beans are fine too, just choose beans in water with no salt added. If you happen to buy canned beans that contain salt, just drain the beans in a colander and rinse them well before using.

If you’re cooking the dried ones, make sure that you pick out any stones or other debris then rinse them under cold running water, again, until the water runs clear. Then put them in a large bowl and cover the beans with water to soak over night. If your kitchen is warm then put them in a cool place to avoid fermentation.

In the morning, empty out the water and rinse again. You can then put them in glass containers and freeze them, or use them straightaway.

If you don’t want to soak them overnight you can put them into a large pot and cover them with clean water, bring to the boil and boil for 2-3 minutes then cover and put to the side for an hour. Then rinse them well.

If a recipe calls for 11?2 cups of home-cooked beans, just use 1 can (15 ounces/400g) of canned beans.

Make sure they’re cooked thoroughly and are not ‘al dente’. Heating beans makes them more digestible.

How many should you eat?

Work up to 1-2 cups of beans per day. If you eat beans regularly you’ll find that your cholesterol levels are, on average, about 7% lower compared with people who don’t eat beans.[3]

But they give me wind!

It’s the oligosaccharides in beans that give some of us gas/wind. That’s because they’re sugars that we can’t digest.

Here are five tips for reducing it:

  1. Soaking the beans overnight removes some of the indigestible sugars that gives us wind.
  2. Start eating small portions of beans if you’re new to them and slowly build up. You might find that smaller beans such as black beans, are easier to digest. You can then move onto bigger beans such as pinto, fava etc.
  3. Try adding a strip of kombu, edible seaweed, when you’re cooking beans and remove it once the beans are cooked.
  4. Try adding slices of ginger or fennel, coriander, caraway or cumin seeds when you’re cooking the beans. This reduces the amount of fermentable carbohydrates in the beans.
  5. You can also try adding a pinch of baking soda to the soaking water.

 What do you think? I’d love to hear from you. Please share your thoughts below. Thank you!

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[1] http://www.fao.org/es/faodef/fdef04e.htm

[2] – See more at: http://beaninstitute.com/health-benefits/nutritional-value-of-dry-beans/#sthash.0MzIc1YG.dpuf

[3] Anderson JW, Gustafon