Why do we need beans in our diet?

Beans, a common substitute for meat, or a necessity in our diet?

While vegetarians have rejoiced in the protein properties that beans over meat can provide, there are other dietary profits that come from these high-fiber and anti-oxidant rich little friends. Experts agree that beans have the potential of warding off cancer, diabetes and heart disease, according to an article on the WebMD website.  By increasing our bean intake, our waistlines become smaller, preventing the types of diseases that come along with being overweight. Also according to WebMD, the water and fiber content of beans make you feel full longer, and the phytochemicals makes beans high in antioxidants, debilitating free-radicals in your body.

Note if you are vegetarian or vegan: Your body gets iron in two different ways. Heme iron is iron that your body absorbs well and comes from meat, fish and poultry. Non-heme iron found in beans and fortified cereal and grain products are not absorbed well by the body. In order to get the right amounts of iron in your body, make sure you are eating foods with enough iron. Also eating foods with Vitamin C will boost the absorption of iron, so for example eating broccoli with your tofu will satisfy your body’s need. Calcium and coffee and teas decrease iron absorption in your body, so make sure you give your body time to transition to digest these before eating your iron. Source: Hallberg L. Bioavailability of dietary iron in man. Ann Rev Nutr 1981;1:123-147.

More Beans Please

Low in fat and containing no cholesterol, beans are a great source of fiber to add to your diet. If you are looking for a quick meal, try using frozen beans or canned beans.

  • Frozen beans: Frozen foods, including beans, are frozen at the peak of their ripeness, so you can be assured that you are getting the full nutritional benefits. Frozen beans such as garbanzo, navy and black-eyed beans can be added to casseroles and soups or reheated by way of steaming or microwave.
  • Canned beans: Canned beans are also convenient but may be packaged with high amounts of sodium. To lower the quantity of sodium, drain and rinse your canned beans. Chili, soups and dips can benefit from canned beans.
  • Dried beans: Dried beans are cheap, however you will have to invest time soaking them. Overnight soak is the easiest- rinsing them before cooking them for an hour or so. Look at the package, some beans you are able to ‘quick soak,’ saving you time and giving you the freshest approach.

Have your cake and eat it too Tip

Beans over meat will offer the same amount of protein with the added benefit of no cholesterol. Substitute beans for meats in tacos, lasagna, stews and chili. Feel full longer by increasing your beans to 3 cups a day. The beans that have the highest feel-full longer affect is the kidney bean.


by Amanda Holst


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