Does that old song from your childhood about beans and their ‘musical’ powers keep you from buying them when you visit the grocery store? Don’t let a little hot air scare you away… beans are incredibly nutritious and can be prepared in numerous delicious recipes. Where would the almighty burrito be without the bean? Hummus would be non-existent. Chili would be lackluster. The list goes on…
While beans are essential to many classic recipes, they also give us plenty of essential nutrients. They’re super economical (especially when you buy them dried), adding heartiness to recipes without costing you a fortune. Add beans to your diet and you’re getting a good source of fiber, protein, minerals and vitamins. Thanks to their nutritional content, beans can help lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Here’s our breakdown of some of the most nutritious beans you can eat:
Black beans are an excellent low-calorie, low-fat source of energy and fiber. One half-cup serving of black beans gives you 7 grams of fiber, 8 grams of protein, less than 1 gram of fat and only 113 calories. This means they’ll fill you up while at the same time contributing to healthy weight management. Black beans are also a great source of folic acid, magnesium, potassium and iron.
How to eat black beans: They’re excellent in burritos, enchiladas, dips and salads. I like to sprinkle a handful of them inside a sprouted grain wrap with some chopped tomatoes, lettuce, green onions, avocado, salsa and cheese.
Shaped like the internal organ of the same name, kidney beans are a great source of nutrients, including dietary fiber, which is essential for digestive function and maintaining a healthy weight. They’re also a good source of lean protein, folate, magnesium, iron and copper–all necessary for optimal human health.
How to eat kidney beans: They tend to absorb flavors well, which is probably why they’re a key ingredient in soups and chillis.
We’ve covered these versatile legumes before, so if you’ve been following along, you know lentils give you tons of protein, fiber, iron, zinc, folate, potassium and B vitamins. In fact, ¾ of a cup of cooked lentils gives you 13 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber!
How to eat lentils: Lentils come in several varieties from the small red kind to the plump, dark green variety. The red ones are great in soups, and green ones are more suited to salads. I highly recommend trying this recipe for coconut red lentil soup, which is a staple in my kitchen and freezes very well!
Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas, like many beans, are an excellent, low-fat source of protein and fiber. They’re also packed with vitamins and minerals, like vitamin B6, folate, calcium, magnesium and potassium. Eat a cup of cooked chickpeas and you’re getting the equivalent potassium content of a small banana.
How to eat chickpeas: Hummus and falafel are the most common chickpea dishes but you can also sprinkle them on salads and add them to soups and curries, or mash them up with herbs and spices and form them into veggie burger patties.
Pinto beans are another incredibly nutritious food, with about 7.5 grams each of protein and fiber in one half-cup cooked. They also deliver large amounts of iron, magnesium, folate, manganese, thiamin and vitamin B-6. In fact, they’re a very high source of folate, which is a B-vitamin essential for healthy blood and healthy growth of babies during pregnancy.
How to eat pinto beans: Pinto beans are commonly used in slow cooker recipes, chillis and baked beans, and they also work well as refried beans.
Pro Tips for Maximum Bean Enjoyment
If you’re concerned about beans causing excess gassiness, there are measures you can take to prevent that from happening:
- Eat them more often–as your body gets used to them, their gaseous powers decline.
- When using dried beans, discard the soaking water and rinse them several times before cooking.
- Add coriander or cumin during cooking.
- Drink plenty of water.
Start eating more beans today! We’ve got a few tasty ways you can eat them. They’re featured in many of our good-for-you burritos and several of our entrees, including our Chicken Enchiladas.