Now that you’re here…I’ll let the cat out of the bag right away. One of the superfood staples I am most passionate about isn’t acai berries or chia seeds: it’s beans.
Wait, was that a let down?
If so, then it’s because you don’t realize how incredibly worthy of the super food title beans are. And that’s what this post is all about.
Beans are one of the most versatile, economical, delicious, and healthy foods out there. They are nutrition powerhouses full of vitamins, minerals, and nourishing nutrients for your body. They help support digestive health in a world where digestion has gone seriously awry and they feed the beneficial bacteria in your body so that they might support better health.
So whether it is in a salad, a mash, a soup, or even just as a simple side, legumes definitely deserve a place on your plate! Yes, beans can increase gas production but the antidote is simply to eat more beans. Your digestive tract and the bacteria that live there will adjust and that gas production is proof of bean’s beneficial effects. Here are some more reasons why you should have beans more often.
Beans can help lower your cholesterol (yes, that still matters!)
Beans have soluble fiber, which plays a crucial role in regulating your body’s blood cholesterol levels. Similar to oatmeal, this means that having more beans will help lower your LDL levels! They also have compounds such as phytosterols that help decrease the amount of cholesterol your body absorbs from the food you eat too. All the fibre in beans (much more than most fruits and vegetables) also keeps your digestive system humming along.
They keep you full and energized
The complex carbohydrates in beans means that they will slowly digest in your body, resulting in moderate blood sugar rise to keep your energy as you go about your day. Also, their fiber content helps you feel full quicker and for longer!
They’re a great source of protein
People often think that meat is the best source of protein out there. Well, beans are pretty darn fantastic too. Especially when paired with a grain, you’ll have a complete amino acid profile and a substantial amount of protein to help your body grow and repair. Another benefit is that by having more beans as your protein source, you will also decrease your intake from protein sources such as beef and pork, which helps fight inflammation.
They provide a wide variety of vitamins and minerals that over-processed diets are lacking
While the specific types of minerals and vitamins in beans depend on their variety, they all are incredibly nutrient-dense. Folate, magnesium, potassium, iron, B6, and zinc are just some of the vitamins and minerals you might find in a bean. A half cup of cooked lentils has 3.5mg of iron, more than the same amount of cooked ground beef. A cup of kidney beans has 84mg of magnesium, 1/4 of a woman’s daily needs. Isn’t it amazing how many nutrients can be packed into such a tiny little package?
They’re incredibly affordable!
Whether you purchase them canned or dry, beans are one of the most affordable grocery items you can find in supermarkets. They have a very long shelf life, and should definitely be a staple in your pantry. Especially for college students and families on a tight budget, beans are a great way to stay nourished but on a student budget!
Try to eat beans at least 3 times per week. Need recipe ideas? Check out my Pinterest Page for healthy plant-centred recipes that feature beans.
A big thank you to my student Jason Lau for helping me put this post together!