Packed with nutrients like fiber, B vitamins and protein, beans are versatile and cheap enough to be a diet staple. Due to the high fiber and water content, nutrient dense beans keep you feeling fuller longer than meat, which has little to no fiber. Although bean calories are similar to those in meat, bean eaters actually eat less quantity because they feel full quicker. In a recent study, bean eaters weighed an average of seven pounds less than non-bean eaters even though they ate an average of 200 calories more!
What is in a Bean?
High in fiber, B vitamins, iron, folate, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and antioxidants, beans are worthy of their superfood status. As a plant food, nutrient-rich beans contain no saturated fat. This powerful combination of macro- and micronutrients provides the following benefits:
helps prevent cancers such as pancreatic, colon, breast, and prostate
eliminate free radicals from the body with protective antioxidants
raises HDL (healthy) cholesterol and reduces LDL (lousy) cholesterol levels
controls blood sugar with its high amounts of soluble fiber
keeps you feeling full longer
Buying Dried Beans
When buying dried beans, make sure the beans are fresh because old beans are tough even after they are soaked and cooked. If you choose the dried variety, you can store beans for up to a year in an air-tight, cool place.
Stop Gas From Beans
Despite its superfood status, this high protein and high fiber vegetable is shunned because it can cause painful stomach bloating and gas. However, preventing flatulence is easy once you know the causes of this embarrassing side effect. Flatulence and bloating experienced by bean eaters can be attributed to a sugar in beans called oligosaccharide. Since humans lack the enzyme to break down this sugar, it builds up in the intestines, which causes gas and bloating. In order to prevent flatulence and bloating, soaking beans in water draws the pesky sugars out of the food. Some larger varieties of beans like navy and lima beans cause the greatest amount of intestinal discomfort. One possible reason for this connection is because larger beans contain more sugar, which is built up in the intestines. Other common types of beans, including smaller varieties include:
Black beans — Pinto beans
Kidney beans — Cannellini beans
Fava beans — Garbanzo beans (Chickpea)
If you already include beans in your diet, try branching out with out legumes like lentils and peas. Just like beans, these foods are rich in protein and provide a wealth of nutrients for a very cheap price. One great reason to check out lentils or dried peas in particular is that some varieties, like red lentils, are quick-cooking and are ready in less than 15 minutes with no pre-soaking required! Try the recipe at the end of this article for a simple way to try a tasty, zesty bean recipe.
Follow this easy guide on how to cook beans and you can enjoy tasty beans and their nutrients but avoid bloating and gas:
Soak beans in water overnight, changing soaking water to ensure that sugars to do reabsorb back into the beans. Amount of water should be approximately 3 times the amount of beans (for example: soak 1/3 cup of beans in 1 cup of water). *Soaking beans overnight can reduce over 50% of the pesky sugars in most beans.
After soaking, rinse beans several times until water runs clear. This helps eliminate any extra sugar water.
Cook beans in boiling water until soft (around 1 hr). Make sure to add water to the pot as water evaporates so the beans don’t burn.
Black Bean and Corn Salad
2 cups cooked black beans
1 cup frozen corn, cooked and cooled
1 tomato, roughly chopped
1 red, yellow, or green pepper, roughly chopped
1 avocado, roughly chopped
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1/4 medium cucumber, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
In a small bowl, mix cumin, lime juice and olive oil. In a large bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Drizzle dressing over vegetables and sprinkle cilantro on top.