This is the first Super Food in our big series on foods you should eat more of.
When I was a child all the way through to somewhere in college, I really disliked beans. Chili was always on my “don’t eat it” list, and I never did refried beans. I’m not sure what happened to my tastebuds – or most likely my texture sensors – but I’ve grown to love them. The more I learn about beans (the legume kind – kidney, pinto, black, lentil, etc.), the more I find to love. My family tries to include beans in at least one meal a week.
My Changing World of Beans
When I was pregnant with my first child, I ate more beans because of the protein and iron content. After a friend of mine went to a nutritionist for PCOS, she learned some information that really got me to appreciate beans. You can always find someone who says there’s something in there that you shouldn’t be eating, but beans have a pretty clean rapsheet. Almost everyone says they’re good for you, and I concur!
This Food for Thought will give you the briefest overview possible of why I’m going to recommend you eat more beans. Read it if you want, or just skip to the Monday Mission to get practical ideas for MORE BEANS.
Nutrition of Beans
Beans will give you the following nutritional benefits:
- Protein (1/2 cup = 7-8 g, 15% RDA, best if eaten with whole grains to form a complete protein)
- Fiber (best if long soaked and long cooked)
- Iron (1/5 RDA, eat with vitamin C to increase absorption)
- Vitamins B1, B6
- Folic acid (HALF recommended daily amount in ½ cup)
- magnesium, copper
- omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
All those nutrients can improve your health:
- lower LDL (bad) cholesterol
- reduce risk of heart disease
- improve digestion/reduce constipation
- low glycemic index = good for diabetics
- fills you up longer = good for dieters
- reduce risk of cancer
- folic acid is especially important in pregnancy for healthy babies!
This is a serious list. If you are pregnant or might become so, diabetic, pre-diabetic, or it runs in your family, have a family history of heart disease or high LDL cholesterol, want to lose weight, have digestive issues, or are just poor and want healthy food…EAT MORE BEANS!
Beans, Beans, Beans
Are you curious about the info from my friend’s nutritionist that really convinced me to include beans more often? First, I’ll tell you that the diet my friend was put on was pretty strict: no sugar or carbs of any kind, no caffeine, 7 servings of veggies, 5 of protein every day…and beans 3 times a day, once at each meal. Three times a day! That’s beans and eggs for breakfast, beans on a salad at lunch, beans in SOMEthing at dinner…every day. Phew. That’s a lot of beans.
The nutritionist explained that my friend’s body was stressed, and that’s why she wasn’t ovulating. Her analogy: If your mother was sick with cancer, what would you do? You would drop everything and help take care of her. Even though you’re not sick, you’ll have a lot of stress. It’s the same thing in the body – if adrenal/pituitary glands are under stress and over producing, your ovaries don’t ovulate. You must get your body to stop freaking out. She needed to put her system into complete rest mode: no sugar, no carbs, no caffeine, because all those things make your body work harder and stimulate your adrenal glands.
There are a lot of impurities that our bodies encounter every day that stress out our system. The job of the, of course, is to clean out impurities in the blood. The bile in the liver, however, can only take so much. To maintain it and clean out the bile so it’s not saturated with “junk”, beans will do the job. The beans take the impurities out of the bile in your liver and carry them out of your body. Think of beans as the janitorial crew, worthy of a “Dirty Jobs” episode to be sure.
That’s why the nutritionist starts out her patients with beans three times a day, for major spring cleaning, then as the system starts to regulate, you can level off.
Incredible. Beans are cool. Beans are cheap. Beans do a lot of good for the body. Do move on to the Monday Mission to learn how to prepare and serve beans in delicious ways, including Homemade Refried Beans.
85 pages all about beans, with science geek info like this post plus 30 recipes, from appetizer to desserts:The Everything Beans Book is on sale now!
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