Eight Great Reasons to Give Thanks for Beans

During this season of giving thanks, we wanted to share some of the many reasons why we give thanks for beans.

Beans are simply delicious, versatile ingredient.

dark-red-kidney-beansBeans are an incredibly versatile ingredient that can be incorporated into any meal. They work well in both sweet and savory applications. Beans can be prepared very simply and served as a delicious side dish, or they can be added to more complex dishes to boost protein, fiber, and flavor. One of our favorite ways to enjoy simply delicious beans this time of year is to sauté cooked or canned beans with olive oil, onion, sage, salt and pepper. This simple side dish pairs well with roast turkey.

Beans are naturally nutritious.

Beans are a nutrient rich food. All types of beans—including black, cranberry, great northern, dark red kidney, light red kidney, white kidney, navy, pink, pinto, and small red—are good sources of protein, excellent sources of fiber, and naturally fat-free, sodium-free, and cholesterol-free. Many types of beans are also good sources of potassium.

 Beans promote healthy blood pressure.

Beans are one of the foods highlighted in the DASH diet. DASH is an acronym for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Created by researchers, the DASH diet was designed to see if a healthful eating pattern could work as well as medication for controlling blood pressure. Researchers were surprised to learn that this diet is more powerful than medication! Additional research suggests the DASH diet may also reduce risk of certain cancers, stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. The DASH diet recommends eating beans most days of the week. This dietary patterns also highlights fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy.

 Beans are a sustainable crop.

Beans are part of the legume family. The roots of legume plants have nodules on them that house good bacteria that can convert nitrogen in the air into a form that plants can use, thereby reducing the need for natural or synthetic fertilizer. The nitrogen-rich soil from legumes makes other crops like wheat, planted in the same field in subsequent years, even more productive.

Beans are a gluten-free food.

People who need to avoid gluten for medical reasons or people who choose to avoid gluten for other reasons can enjoy beans. They are a gluten-free food that can enhance protein and fiber intake. Beans are also a good source of iron and an excellent source of folate, nutrients of concern for people who follow gluten-free diets.

Beans are a prebiotic food.

Beans provide non-digestible carbohydrates called oligosaccharides that provide food for the good bacteria in our gut, which may enhance health in many ways. Emerging research is exploring relationships between the gut microbiome and immunity. What we eat may be as important as what we feed our gut in terms of enhancing health and increasing longevity.

Beans are a low glycemic food.

The carbohydrates in beans come in many forms, including starch, non-starch polysaccharides, resistant starch, and oligosaccharides. The digestible carbohydrate fractions are broken down slowly in our bodies. Consuming low glycemic foods like beans may provide significant benefits when it comes to weight management and blood glucose management, especially if low glycemic foods take the place of higher glycemic foods.

Beans are an affordable source of plant-based protein.

Beans are one of the lowest-cost per serving protein foods. A ½ cup serving of cooked dry beans costs a mere $0.07 per serving. Compare that to a serving of lean ground beef at $1.14. If a family of four substitutes dry beans for lean ground beef twice a week for a year, they could save about $450!

These are a just a few of the reasons we give thanks for simply delicious, naturally nutritious beans. Let us know why you give thanks for beans via Facebook, Twitter or email.