As a child I rarely ate beans. They just weren’t on the menu in my mother’s kitchen—except for taco night when we’d have a side of canned refried beans. My only other introduction to beans, were the sweet canned beans that tend to show up at 4th of July and Labor Day parties. Beans are often the brunt of jokes and caricatures, like in the movie Blazing Saddles when the cowboys pass gas after their evening bowl of Pintos. Did you ever have this happen to you? If these were your first acquaintances with legumes you might be surprised to learn that beans are a Power Food, and they are this week’s topic for our Power Foods blog group.
So why do beans make it onto the power foods list? According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, they are nutrient rich and “they are also loaded with micronutrients, fiber, and so-called resistant starch, both of which keep these foods’ glycemic index (an index of their rate of conversion to sugar) and caloric density low” (Super Immunity pg. 313 Kindle). Resistant starch also promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive track. Dr. Fuhrman recommends eating ½ cup of beans at least once a daily, along with other select foods, in order to promote a healthy body immune resistant to disease.
Other benefits of eating beans, is that they are inexpensive, fat free, and they may lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. Studies also indicate that they may reduce the risk of estrogen related cancers, and they may curb pancreatic, colon, and prostate cancers (38 Power Foods).
Other than lentils and peas, beans must be soaked in water overnight to shorten the cooking time and to reduce your chances of getting gas. By the way, if you do get gas from beans try blending them. I used to have this problem with white beans until my mother-in-law taught me this trick. Now my body is accustomed to them and I can eat whole bean stew and not be embarrassed later on.
Beans are well worth the effort to get used to. They have long been a star food in the Mediterranean for their great flavor, health benefits, and their versatility. There is a wide variety of beans to choose from; white, pinto, black, chickpea, lentils, peas, adzuki, etc., and they can be used in dips, soups, stews, patties, and even desserts. Children love them, too. Cooking beans is easy—especially with a pressure cooker where they will be ready in a fraction of time. Give them a try! See below for some of my favorite recipes. (BTW, you may also want to check the links below to see what the other bloggers cooked up this week).
If you are a blogger and would like to take part in our group blogging about Power Foods: 150 Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients, (from the editors at Martha Stewart’s Living Magazine) we’d love to have your company. Contact: Mireya(at)myhealthyeatinghabits.com for details.
Check out what these other bloggers have cooked up! Alyce - More Time at the Table, Ansh - Spice Roots, Casey –SweetSav Jeanette - Jeanette’s Healthy Living, Martha - Simple-Nourished-Living, Minnie – The Lady 8 Home, Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits