3 Reasons to Eat More Beans
In my recent posts you’ve discovered that I really like thimble analogies. It’s also possible you’ve learned some new and interesting things about Chard, Beets and Collard Greens. This week we’re going to take it to a whole new level: Beans!
Beans have been around for millennia. Literally. There is archeological evidence, which I have no idea how they obtain, that dates dried beans and their use as far back as 9,750 B.C. Which is pretty awesome. Beans were a gate-way crop for human civilizations as we moved from hunter-gatherer groups to agrarian-based societies. Evidence of beans and their cultivation have been found in human societies before the written word was even developed!
Coming back to the present, however, beans are an incredible form of nutrition and have more than 40,000 varieties (recipes for each type can be found at the end of this post – just kidding; but there are two that I hope you will like below). Beans are typically grown on vines and are produced throughout the world on almost every continent. Beans can be eaten raw, sprouted or cooked, ground into flour, curdled into tofu, and fermented into soy sauce, tempi and miso.
1. Nutritional Dynamo!
Beans are an incredible source of nutrition, and when combined with grains, form what is called a “complete protein”. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but it sounds terrific. Beans, black beans in particular, contain 115% of your daily fiber needs. A cup of cooked dry beans contain 20 grams of protein. Beans are considered THE Super Food by some nutritionists. You vegetarians out there will love this: vitamin B12 is one of the only know micronutrients that we cannot get from plant foods. And guess what! Beans are an excellent source of Vitamin B12. Beans are also a solid source of folate and iron and can help lower your cholesterol.
For those of you engaged in the many variety of beans, Aduki beans not only have the protein and fiber already mentioned, they are also packed with trace minerals. A ½ cup of Aduki beans provides almost 200% of the daily requirement of molybdenum which helps in liver detoxification.
2. Fiber (and gas!)
Beans contain an enormous amount of fiber and soluble fiber, which is one of the reasons they can cause an increase in gas, but that also means they help a great deal in digestion, which then leads to quality fat burning. So while there may be some embarrassing results of increase bean consumption, you will see those results for much longer because you will live longer.
3. Hidden Costs of Protein
Plant based proteins are considered a clean protein, meaning that if grown properly, they do not contain any hidden costs after reaching the consumer. Many animal proteins have what is called a “hidden cost” – meaning there are costs associated with consuming animal proteins that are not necessarily associated with their grocery price. Animal proteins that come from feed-lots (beef and pork) or animal cage farms (chickens) required large amounts of hormones and antibiotics in order to breed, grow and survive in that kind of environment. Those additives find their way into our meals, and then into our bodies. Moreover, prolific use of antibiotics create super-viruses that are resistant to the majority of human antibiotic medicines.
The answer to these problems, of course, is to insure that your meats come from grass-fed and free-range farms. I myself am a meat lover, and when I go to pick out my meat and eggs and dairy products, I make sure there are no hormones or antibiotics used. Beans are also considered a heck of a good buy for those pinching pennies. One cup of cooked dried beans can cost as little as 21 cents. That’s right. $0.21. And remember how much they provide? It’s truly a windfall.
Awesome and Interesting Facts!
In Nicaragua newlyweds are given a bowl of beans on their wedding day for good luck. In ancient Greece, minor public officials were elected by putting one white bean with a load of black beans inside a “bean machine.” Whoever picked the white bean got the job. In the 1980’s an archeologist found a clay pot sealed with pine tar that contained bean seeds that were 1,500 years old . . . and they grew! We now call those beans Anasazi beans. And refried beans are actually only fried once. The reason they are called refried beans is because of a translation error: the originals are frijoles refritos which actually means “well-fried beans” – not re-fried.
Bet You Didn’t Know:
Beans are technically considered a fruit! Seriously.
If you are concerned about the flatulence that is caused by consuming beans, or you find that your “output” is more than you think is normal, you can add Beano to your meals (or take separately), which will counter the oligosaccharides (a sugar molecule) that cause improper digestion. We humans have just slight problems with digesting beans because we do not naturally create sugar molecules that are needed to fully break down beans. You can also soak them in alkaline (baking soda) over night before rinsing thoroughly.
Quick Recipe –
One of my favorite green bean recipes is one my wife made up a few months ago. She took some fresh green beans, cut them up into small pieces and set them aside. She sliced some shallots thinly and browned them in a pan with some butter, then added the beans and some fresh lemon juice to the mix. Cooking them for no more than a couple of minutes kept them fresh and slightly crispy. The taste is like a bite of summer.
What are you making with beans these days? What is your favorite legume? Need some help creating bean-tastic dishes? Try this Fava Bean and Mint Hummus.