Naturally Nutritions

It’s hard to find a simply delicious, naturally nutritious food that provides more benefits than dry beans like pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans and other types that are harvested when the beans are dry in the seed pod.

From protein and fiber to cost-savings and convenience, dry beans are a simply delicious, naturally nutritious food that’s a great choice for any meal.

Need more convincing? Here are five great reasons to love beans.

Beans are good sources of protein, excellent sources of fiber, and naturally fat-, sodium-, and cholesterol-free. According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, beans are a “unique food.”  Because of their unique combination of nutrients, beans may be considered both a vegetable and protein food when building a healthy plate.

A ½ cup serving of cooked beans contains, on average, 115 calories, 8 grams of protein, less than half a gram of fat, 21 grams of carbohydrate, and 7 grams of fiber. Canned beans contain added sodium, but draining and rinsing removes up to 40% of the added sodium.

There’s abundant research showing regular bean consumption provides a variety of health benefits. What does “regular bean consumption” mean? The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommends eating about 3 cups of legumes, like pinto, kidney, or black beans per week. If you eat about ½ cup of beans every day, you’ll meet the weekly Dietary Guidelines for beans.

Eating beans may reduce your risk of health issues we face as we age. Several studies demonstrate that regular consumption of beans—eating about ½ cup of beans most days of the week—may reduce the risk of many diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

Eating beans may help you maintain a healthy weight. People who consume beans frequently have been shown to have a lower body weight.

Eating beans may support a healthy gut. Researchers are gaining a better understanding about the health of the gut or gastrointestinal (GI) tract, how it contributes to overall physical and mental health, and how certain foods benefit or harm the gut. Beans contain a type of fiber called oligosaccharides (all-uh-go-SACK-are-rides), which are non-digestible, fermentable fibers. These fibers make their way intact to the colon where they feed the good, beneficial bacteria.

Beans’ satisfying texture and mellow flavor make them the perfect blank canvas as a starting point for any meal. Beans can be served with breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as a snack. Beans can be added to so many foods to add flavor and nutrition. For example, you can add beans to smoothies, soups, and salads for a boost of plant-based protein and fiber.

Beans are considered a staple ingredient in many traditional dietary patterns because they are eaten so frequently. In Mexican home kitchens, beans may be served three times a day! Look to world cuisines and cultures to find inspiration for cooking with beans.

Beans are one of the lowest-cost per serving protein foods and one of the most nutrient-rich low cost foods. A vegetable cost analysis found that beans and potatoes are the most nutritious vegetables per penny.  The study examined 98 vegetables—fresh, frozen and canned—and calculated the cost per 100 grams, per 100 calories, and per edible cup. A nutrient density score was based on six nutrients: dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium; and vitamins A, C & K.

Opting for plant-based proteins like beans may also help our planet. Beans use less water and energy than other sources of protein, meaning they feed more people using fewer resources. Additionally, bean plants help collect nitrogen from the atmosphere and bring it into the soil, helping nourish farmers’ land.

Move beans to the center of your plate! There is an increasing movement to rethink the main foods on the plate. This means featuring beans and other legumes, whole grains, and produce as the star of the plate, and using meat in smaller amounts.