Tag Archives: Health

An image depicting a variety of dry beans.

For Fiber, Nothing Beats Beans

According to studies of eating habits, Americans get too little fiber. Since dietary fiber is linked to better weight control and can lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, eating more fiber-rich foods should be a priority for everyone.

Beans are unmatched in their fiber content. A ½ cup serving provides about 8 grams of fiber, which is just a little less than one-third of what experts recommend for the day. It’s also four times the amount of fiber in ½ cup of brown rice and twice what you get from ½ cup of other fiber superstars like berries. If you’re concerned about fiber, eat more beans. Just one serving every day can ensure that you get plenty of this health-promoting nutrient.

Bean Eaters Have Better Diets

People who eat more beans have better overall diets, according to research from Sweden. The study found that people who ate beans were more likely to meet the recommended intake of fiber. Fiber protects against chronic disease risk and is also associated with weight control.

In this study, bean eaters had slightly higher calorie intakes but were no heavier than non-bean eaters. People who included beans in meals also consumed more iron, magnesium, and folate, a B-vitamin that is especially important during pregnancy.  

Source: Steib CA, Johansson I, Hefni ME, Witthöft CM. Diet and nutrient status of legume consumers in Sweden: a descriptive cross-sectional study. Nutr J. 2020;19(1):27. Published 2020 Apr 3. 

Red Beans In Wooden Bowl And Spoon

Dry Beans for a Healthy Immune System

Iron deficiency anemia is one of the most common nutrient shortfalls in the world. When people get too little iron, they’re at an increased risk for infection. Dry beans are among the best sources of this mineral and pairing them with vitamin C-rich foods can increase iron absorption dramatically.

Even if you’re limiting trips to the grocery store right now, you may have plenty of vitamin C-rich ingredients on hand. Cook beans with frozen spinach and canned tomatoes to create a satisfying soup that is packed with iron and vitamin C. Simmer baked beans with chunks of canned pineapple for a savory-sweet dish to serve over rice. Keep frozen green or red peppers on hand to sauté with onions and stir into cooked beans for flavor and plenty of vitamin C.

While there is no magic potion or pill that can boost your immunity, a balanced diet that meets nutrient needs can keep the immune system functioning well.

An image depicting sprouted black beans

Sprouting Black Beans for Soup

Sprouting beans is a fun way to add a little extra nutrition to menus. Sprouting can make protein more digestible, improve absorption of minerals like zinc and iron, and may increase healthful phytochemicals in beans.

A little caution is warranted, though. Consumed raw, sprouted grains, seeds, and beans are a potential source of foodborne illness. Sprouted beans should always be cooked before consuming. You can use sprouted beans in any bean recipe like black bean soup.

Steps for Sprouting Beans:

  • Rinse 1/2 cup dried black beans, remove any stones or other debris, and place in a clean quart-size jar.
  • Add enough fresh water to fill the jar three-quarters of the way to the top. Cover with a mesh lid or cloth, secured with a rubber band, to allow airflow.
  • Soak for 24 hours at room temperature.
  • Drain and rinse the beans thoroughly. Repeat rinsing and draining 3-4 times per day until sprout tails appear. (Short sprouts are sufficient to see health benefits.)
  • Cook beans with sprouts as you normally would, but be prepared to check tenderness regularly. Sprouted beans may cook in half as much time as non-sprouted beans.
An image depicting folks exercising

Beans Support Aerobic Exercise

If your New Year resolution includes a commitment to more aerobic exercise, take a tip from the Tarahumaras, a group indigenous to the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains of Mexico. Considered among the most skilled long-distance trail runners in the world, they’ve been the subject of books, magazine articles, and scientific studies. Remarkably, the diet that sustains their extraordinary fitness is built around beans, especially pinto beans. Corn, chili peppers, squash, and greens also play important roles in their menu.

So, before you hit the track or the gym, load up on a healthy bean-based meal like these tostadas.



  • 12 tostada shells (the crisp kind)
  • 2 15-ounce cans refried beans
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • 2 avocados peeled, pitted and chopped, or about 1 cup guacamole
  • 1 cup salsa
  • Optional: 8 ounces grated Monterrey Jack or cheddar cheese


  1. Heat the refried beans in a frying pan over medium heat until hot.
  2. Prepare the tostadas by spreading a large spoonful of beans over each one and then sprinkling on the toppings.
An image depicting a healthy pregnant woman

Beans for a Healthy Pregnancy

According to the WebMD website, beans are a “must-eat” food for pregnant women. Packed with nutrients, they are especially rich in folate. This B-vitamin is needed for the production of red blood cells and the development of an embryo’s nervous system during the early stages of pregnancy. Even when health providers prescribe a supplement of folic acid (the synthetic form of the vitamin) during pregnancy, it’s important to eat a diet rich in natural folate. And beans are among the best sources. A half-cup serving of pinto beans provides nearly 25% of a pregnant woman’s daily need for folate.


Rice and Beans are Classic Comfort Food

September is National Rice Month and nothing goes quite so well with rice as beans. According to Consumer Reports, rice with beans is one of the healthiest dishes you can eat. A cup of the classic combo provides 12 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber – even if you choose white rice. And while white rice contains quickly-digested carbs that can cause spikes in blood glucose levels, pairing it with beans slows carbohydrate digestion to a healthier rate.

To make your favorite rice and beans dish even healthier, aim for two-thirds beans and one-third rice instead of the usual half-and-half combination. You’ll get even more protein and fiber that way.

Source: https://www.consumerreports.org/healthy-eating/is-rice-and-beans-good-for-you/


Eat Beans to Protect Against Cancer

Beans are more than protein and fiber. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, beans are a good choice among the foods that fight cancer. For example, the resistant starch in beans escapes digestion in the small intestine. It travels intact to the large intestine where bacteria metabolize it to produce short-chain fatty acids. These compounds are thought to protect colon cells against cancer.

Beans, especially those with deep colors like red and black beans, are also rich in an extensive variety of cancer-fighting antioxidants.




Beans for Iron

Beans are packed with iron and are among the richest sources of this nutrient. You can boost absorption of iron from beans by pairing them with vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits, leafy greens, potatoes, and peppers. Here are five ways to ensure that you’re making good use of the iron in beans:

  • Cook beans in tomato sauce
  • Add a bag of fresh or frozen spinach to a pot of bean soup
  • Add chopped red and green pepper to cooked or canned beans and flavor with any salad dressing
  • Add pineapple chunks to baked beans
  • Top a baked potato with cooked black beans and season with spicy salsa

Healthy Eating is all about Fiber

Carbohydrate-rich foods are essential in healthy diets when you choose them wisely. A group of New Zealand researchers analyzed data from nearly 250 studies to determine which types of carbohydrates affect risk for chronic disease and obesity. They found that people who consumed the most fiber-rich foods had the lowest risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer. High fiber intake was also linked to lower body weight. Eating beans is an easy way to pack your diet with health-promoting fiber. A half-cup serving of pinto beans has nearly 8 grams of fiber compared to 2.3 grams in one-half cup of broccoli and 1.6 grams in one-half cup of brown rice.

Source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673618318099?via%3Dihub

Beans Are Good for Your Mood

Although depression and other mood disorders are complex conditions that often require comprehensive treatment, evidence suggests that food choices can help with symptoms. In the latest study on this topic, researchers from Spain looked at eating habits of people with and without symptoms of depression. The subjects who didn’t have depression were more likely to be regular consumers of beans. Legumes are rich in the amino acid tryptophan and the mineral magnesium, both of which have been linked to improvements in mood and mental well-being.

Read the paper at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/30841895/

Keeping Gut Microbes Happy with Resistant Starch

Your intestines are home to some 100 trillion microbes. Most are bacteria and the vast majority live in the colon or large intestine. A thriving colony of bacteria is good for your health since these microbes are linked to lower risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Bacteria feed on certain types of carbohydrates, including the resistant starch found in beans. Resistant starch bypasses digestion in the small intestine and travels intact to the colon where bacteria ferment it for energy. A byproduct of this fermentation is a group of compounds called short-chain fatty acids which may have a host of protective functions. Short chain fatty acids are linked to appetite regulation, improved glucose metabolism and a lower risk for colon cancer. It’s one more way that including beans in meals helps protect against chronic disease.

For more information about how beans nourish a healthy gut, see our Beans, Beans the Magical Fruit handout.

Beans for Blood Pressure

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet was introduced in 1996 and it remains among the most effective approaches to treating blood pressure that has been studied. It’s rich in nutrients that are associated with lower blood pressure like potassium, magnesium, calcium, fiber and protein, while restricting sugars and saturated fats.

DASH encourages regular consumption of beans, and that’s not surprising. These foods check all the DASH diet boxes. Beans provide a unique blend of fiber and protein, are packed with potassium and magnesium and many choices even provide some calcium. Eat beans often, along with generous amounts of fruits and vegetables, to create a diet that will keep your blood pressure in check.

Eat More Beans to Lower Your Cholesterol

Researchers from Germany and Austria compiled 66 studies that included more than 3500 people to determine which foods were best for reducing risk of chronic disease. When all the results were tallied, two food groups stood out for reducing cholesterol levels: nuts and beans. Beans were also among the best foods for protecting against a group of ten risk factors that are related to a host of chronic diseases. The researchers suggested that beans are protective because they are packed with soluble fiber and phytochemicals.

Reference: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30535089

Beans Build Strong Bones with Magnesium

Many Americans fall short of the mineral magnesium in their diets. Getting too little of this nutrient may raise risk for hypertension, diabetes, bone loss and migraine headaches. People who take proton pump inhibitors like omeprazole to inhibit stomach acid production may be at especially high risk for deficiency since these medications may reduce magnesium absorption.

Including beans in diets is one way to give magnesium intake a boost. A half-cup of black beans provides about 3 times the magnesium as 3 ounces of beef or chicken and twice as much magnesium as most vegetables.  It’s one more way in which beans may help protect against heart disease and osteoporosis.

Prevent Chronic Disease with Antioxidant-Rich Beans

Fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants, compounds that help prevent and repair damaging oxidative stress. Diets that are rich in antioxidants have been linked to lower risk for cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. But while berries and brightly-colored vegetables get most of the attention for their antioxidant content, red beans, like kidney and pinto beans, are the true antioxidant stars. One study found that three of the top five antioxidant-rich foods were beans and that small red beans provide more antioxidant power than either wild or cultivated blueberries. It’s just one more reason why eating beans is a powerful way to reduce your risk for chronic disease.



Beans May Help Protect Against Breast Cancer

The type of breast cancer that is sensitive to the female hormones estrogen and progesterone is an especially aggressive form of the disease and it’s most common in African American and Hispanic women. New research in California suggests that eating beans might be one factor that lowers risk. In particular, Hispanic women who had not been born in the United States were less likely to get this type of breast cancer if they regularly ate beans. One reason might be that these women are more likely to eat a traditional diet where beans play a major role. Hispanic women who were born in the United States eat less fiber in general and especially less fiber from beans, which may raise their risk for a number of cancers.

Click here to read the paper in Cancer Medicine.

Visit our research database for more studies on beans and cancer.



Beans in the Low-FODMAP Diet

The low-FODMAP diet is used to reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). FODMAPs are a group of carbohydrates that are either poorly digested or not digested at all. When these undigested carbohydrates are broken down by bacteria in the large intestine, they can cause bloating and gas. People with IBS may be especially sensitive to these effects.

Although beans are a source of FODMAPs, new research suggests that many people with IBS can still include these foods in their diet. Researchers at Monash University, which is where the FODMAP diet was developed, found that canned beans are lower in FODMAPs than beans cooked from scratch. Cooking beans and then straining them and discarding the liquid also reduces FODMAP content. Sprouting beans lowers their FODMAP content as well. By using these food preparation techniques, most people with IBS can include beans in their diet.

Source: Tuck C, Ly E, Bogatyrev A, Costetsou I, Gibson P, Barrett J, Muir J. Fermentable short chain carbohydrate (FODMAP) content of common plant-based foods and processed foods suitable for vegetarian- and vegan-based eating patterns. J Hum Nutr Diet 2018

Beans in the Blue Zones

Eating beans may help you live longer. That’s one message from research on the “Blue Zones,” which are geographic areas where people tend to live the longest. The three areas at the heart of this research are Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; and Loma Linda, CA.

People who live in these Blue Zones share a number of lifestyle characteristics. They are less likely to smoke and are more physically active. They enjoy active social lives and close family connections. They also eat beans. Blue Zone researchers recommend eating at least one cup of beans per day, based on 150 dietary surveys of the world’s longest living people. Beans may not absolutely guarantee a long life, but they are an important part of an overall plan to stay healthier.


Beans and Fiber

When it comes to fiber, beans have it all. Not only do they offer nearly twice as much total fiber as whole grains, but they also provide generous amounts of the two different types of fiber you need to stay healthy. Beans are a rich source of insoluble fiber, which is the type that protects the digestive system. They also provide plenty of soluble fiber which helps lower blood cholesterol.

Beans are also rich in a type of starch called resistant starch that helps you feel full longer and improves the way your body uses insulin. Including beans in your diet is the easiest way to ensure that you’re consuming generous amounts of both types of fiber and of resistant starch.

Beans Help Protect Blood Glucose Levels

The glycemic index (GI) is a value assigned to a food based on how slowly or quickly it causes blood glucose levels to rise. Foods with a high GI, which includes many refined grains and processed carbs, can quickly dump glucose into the blood, causing levels to spike. Over time, eating too much of these foods may raise risk for diabetes and heart disease. But not all carbohydrates are created equal. The type of carbohydrate in beans is slowly digested, resulting in a more gradual rise in blood glucose levels. This slow and steady influx of glucose into the bloodstream is associated with lower risk for chronic disease and may help with weight loss.

New research from investigators at three universities shows that eating beans can even counter some of the harmful effects of high-GI foods in a meal. The researchers found that adding beans to a meal that contains refined grains affected the overall GI of the whole meal. Eating beans plus white rice (which has a high GI) produced a much smaller glucose response compared to eating the rice alone. The response was smaller right after the meal and also for the following two hours. So the next time you want to enjoy white rice or some other type of refined grain, be sure to also include beans in your meal.

Eat More Beans to Lose Weight

Weight loss is more than just cutting down on your diet. It’s also about eating the right types of food. One of these foods is beans, where incorporating just a single serving can improve your daily diet and weight loss efforts.

Though it isn’t clear how beans help people shed pounds, it is known their content of slowly-digested starches may help you feel full longer. Beans may also affect the way the body metabolizes fats according to research at Colorado State University. These investigators found that feeding beans to rats caused reductions in visceral fat. This is the “deep” fat that accumulates around organs and is associated with a higher risk of chronic disease.

They may not be the whole answer to permanent weight loss, but growing evidence points to benefits of adding beans to your diet if you’re hoping to shed a few pounds.

Potassium-rich Beans for Healthy Bones

Keeping bones strong requires more than calcium and vitamin D. A host of vitamins and minerals are involved in building bones and preventing them from weakening. One of these is the mineral potassium. It’s especially important because studies of American habits suggest that many people don’t consume nearly enough potassium.

Eating more fruits and vegetables is one way to increase potassium intake. Eating more beans can help, too. Beans are unique among good sources of potassium because they also provide plenty of high-quality protein. Not surprisingly, in the Adventist Health Study-2, a large epidemiologic study involving more than 33,000 people, those who ate the most beans and foods made from plant proteins were the least likely to suffer a hip fracture.

The combination of protein and potassium in beans makes them an important part of a diet aimed at protecting bones throughout the lifecycle.

Potassium Content of Selected Beans, Fruits and Vegetables

Food Potassium in milligrams (Daily recommendation is 4700 milligrams)
1 medium banana422
1/2 cup spinach443
1/2 cup pinto beans394
1/2 cup cooked kidney beans379
1/2 cup cranberry beans362
1/2 cup black beans323
1 medium peach285
1/2 cup cooked potato270
1/2 cup cooked broccoli241
1 medium orange237
1/2 cup diced cantaloupe220


Boosting Iron Intake with Beans

Iron deficiency anemia is the most common nutrient deficiency among Americans. It affects children and young women most often, but anyone can fall short of the RDA for this mineral. When iron intake is too low, the body can’t make enough red blood cells. The result can be fatigue, headaches and dizziness, among other symptoms.

Improving iron status can be as simple as adding a few servings of beans to your diet. Just one-half cup of navy beans, for example, provides more than 10 percent of the daily iron requirement for women.

But while beans are rich in iron, they also contain compounds called phytates that reduce iron absorption.

Phytates are antioxidants and they may have important health benefits. So it’s not bad to consume a diet that’s rich in these compounds. And fortunately, it’s easy to counter their effects on iron absorption. Pairing iron-rich beans with good sources of vitamin C is one simple way to improve iron absorption. Vitamin C severs the bond between iron and phytate, freeing up the iron for absorption. In some studies, simply adding vitamin C rich foods to diets without changing iron content of the meals was enough to improve iron status.

Good sources of vitamin C are peppers, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, tomato sauce, cantaloupe, grapefruit, oranges, pineapple, kiwifruit, honeydew melon, and strawberries.

Pairing iron and vitamin C can be as simple as enjoying a serving of steamed broccoli alongside your favorite bean soup. Adding vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables to bean recipes is another easy way to ensure that you’ll absorb as much iron as possible. Here are a few ways to combine vitamin C-rich foods with iron-rich beans:

  • Drain a can of pineapple cubes and add them to canned baked beans
  • Toss cooked black beans with shredded cabbage in your favorite coleslaw recipe
  • Sauté red peppers and onions in olive oil and stir into white navy or Great Northern beans
  • Add any type of cooked beans to a massaged kale salad
  • Bake any type of cooked beans in a savory tomato sauce and serve over rice or pasta

Are You Getting Enough Fiber and Potassium?

There are many reasons why nutrition experts are recommending more plant-based protein. One major reason is that plant-based protein foods like beans also
contain “nutrients of concern” like fiber and potassium, nutrients that most Americans don’t get enough of in their diets.

Adults need 25-38 grams of fiber per day. The average American adult only gets about 16 grams. A single serving of beans can provide one-third of your daily fiber needs. And the average potassium intake of 2,640 milligrams per day falls short of the recommended  4,700 milligrams. Most types of beans are good sources of potassium and excellent sources of fiber.

Black Beans ½ cup, cooked 114 8 8 306
Kidney Beans ½ cup, cooked 112 8 6 358
Navy Beans ½ cup, cooked 127 8 10 354
Pinto Beans ½ cup, cooked 122 8 8 373
Almonds ¼ cup 164 6 4 208
Peanuts ¼ cup 161 7 2 200
Walnuts ¼ cup 190 4 2 125
Hummus ¼ cup 100 5 4 137
Tofu 2 oz. 183 20 3 299

Beans for Breakfast: For Health & Deliciousness

It’s no doubt that breakfast is an important meal. In addition to the simple act of breaking the overnight fast (i.e., “break” – “fast”), and fueling your body and brain with energy, there is ample research to support that eating breakfast is important for overall health. Research studies have shown that eating breakfast can:

  • Protect Your Heart: A 2013 study of male US health professionals found that men who regularly skipped breakfast had a 27% higher risk of coronary heart disease than those who ate a morning meal.[1]
  • Lower Risk for Type 2 Diabetes: A 2015 meta-analysis found that skipping breakfast was significantly associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.[2]
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: A 2013 study found that individuals who ate their main meal later in the day had 20% less weight loss and higher insulin resistance than those who ate their calories earlier in the day. [3]

Breakfast is undoubtedly an important meal, but not all breakfasts are created equal. Finding breakfast foods that are convenient and delicious, as well as nutritious, is essential to reap the benefits of breakfast.


Beans are an awesome food to add to your breakfast routine.  They offer an array of important nutrients as well as health benefits. Here are a few reasons to add beans to your morning meal:

  • Beans Provide Key Nutrients: Consuming lots of nutrients at breakfast is a great way to ensure your body gets all the nutrition it needs. For those who are looking to pack a nutrition punch at breakfast, beans are not to be missed. All types of beans are good sources of protein, excellent sources of fiber (both soluble and insoluble), and are naturally fat-free, sodium-free, and cholesterol-free. Beans are also excellent sources of copper, phosphorus, manganese and magnesium—nutrients that many Americans don’t get enough of—and most beans are good sources of potassium and a rich source of iron.
  • Beans are a Low Glycemic Index Food: Many health professionals encourage patients, particularly those with diabetes or insulin sensitivity, to look for low glycemic index (GI) foods to control blood sugars and insulin levels. This may be especially important in the morning when some have a tendency to be insulin resistant. The glycemic index (GI) of a food is a ranking on a scale of 0-100, according to the extent to which a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugars (glucose) levels after eating. Low GI foods produce smaller fluctuations in glucose and insulin levels, which may produce long-term health benefits. Beans have a low glycemic index, and therefore produce less fluctuation in blood sugars. In addition, research has also shown that the GI of breakfast may impact cognitive performance. A 2007 study showed that test scores of attention and memory decreased more substantially following a high GI versus low GI breakfast.[4] The researchers concluded that breakfast composition may play a role in cognitive function.
  • Beans Add Plant-Based Protein to Breakfast: Optimal protein intake is a hot topic in the nutrition community. However, total protein intake is not the issue of concern – most Americans get more than enough protein. The goal is ensuring that people eat enough protein at each meal to promote muscle health, as well as a healthy mix of different protein sources. Experts recommend that adults consume approximately 25-30 grams of protein at each meal. Beans provide approximately 8 grams of protein per half-cup serving and this is in the form of plant-based protein, a key recommendation to promote health and sustainability in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Eat a half-cup of beans and 2 eggs – you’re at 20 grams of protein!


Looking to add more beans to your morning? Here are some tips for adding them to breakfast, brunch or a mid-morning snack.

“Make Ahead” Idea: A Breakfast Bean Burrito

Fill a plain or whole grain 10” flour tortilla with ¾ cup canned, drained, and rinsed reduced-sodium black or pinto beans. Add ¼ cup shredded cheese. Roll tightly to form a burrito. Wrap in plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, remove from plastic wrap and simply microwave the burrito for 45-60 seconds on a microwave safe plate. Unfold tortilla, add 2 tablespoons salsa and re-roll tightly. Wrap in foil to keep it warmer longer, and then grab and go!

Calories: 500, Fiber: 15 g, Protein: 25 g

“5-Minute or Less Breakfast” Idea: Berry Bean Smoothie

Combine 1 cup non-fat vanilla Greek yogurt, 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen), 1 medium banana, ½ cup canned, drained and rinsed reduced-sodium black beans and 2 tablespoons honey in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into two glasses, add straws and then grab and go!

Calories: 315, Fiber: 7g, Protein: 4g

“Morning Bean Snack” Idea: Pinto Bean Hummus with Pita Chips

Combine 1, 15 oz. can of pinto beans (drained and rinsed), 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons water, 1 small garlic clove, and 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning in a mini food processor. Process until smooth. Transfer ½ cup servings to four small plastic, covered containers. Keep in the refrigerator until you’re ready to enjoy.

Calories per serving: 170; Fiber: 7 g; Protein: 7 g

“Leisurely Morning Breakfast/Brunch” Idea: Breakfast Torta

Tortas, traditional Mexican sandwiches, are made with large, oblong, crusty white rolls. The rolls are cut in half and the top half is covered with pureed black beans. The fillings are diverse and can include meats, vegetables, and cheeses. They can be eaten cold or warm as pressed sandwiches (think of Italian Panini). You can make a breakfast torta by cutting your roll in half, spreading the top half with pureed black beans and loading the bottom with scrambled eggs and chorizo, a Mexican sausage. You can also spread the bottom with avocado or guacamole, a fried egg, and a few slices of ripe tomato. The creative interpretations are endless for this craveable Mexican sandwich.

For more breakfast bean recipe ideas, visit www.BeanInstitute.com/recipes/ and check out our interview with registered dietitian Sanna Delmonico to find her favorite recipe for Chilaquiles with Black Beans.

Also, if you’re looking for resources to encourage patients to enjoy more beans at breakfast, check out our downloadable Beans for Breakfast handout.

[1] Cahill, LE, Chiuve, SE, Mekary, RA, Jensen, MK, Flint, AJ, Hu, FB, Rimm, EB. Prospective study of breakfast eating and incident coronary heart disease in a cohort of male US health professionals. Circulation. 2013; 128(4): 337-43.

[2] Bi, H, Gan, Y, Yang, C, Chen, Y, Tong, X, Lu, Z. Breakfast skipping and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Public Health Nutr. 2015; 18(16): 3013-9.

[3] Garaulet, M, Gomez-Abellan, P, Alburquerque-Bejar, JJ, Lee, YC, Ordovas, JM, Scheer, FA. Timing of food intake predicts weight loss effectiveness. Int J Obes (Lond). 2013; 37(4): 604-11.

[4] Ingwersen, J et al. A low glycaemic index breakfast cereal preferentially prevents children’s cognitive performance from declining throughout the morning. Appetite. 2007; 49(1): 240-4.

Enjoy a Delicious, Bean-Filled Mediterranean Diet for Health

The Mediterranean diet receives a lot of positive attention from the nutrition and health community, and for very good reason. This dietary pattern, which is traditional to countries along the Mediterranean Sea, has been associated with remarkable health outcomes, including an increased lifespan, reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes, and lower risk of certain cancers, as well as a wide range of other health benefits.

Hundreds of peer-reviewed journal articles, including intervention trials and large epidemiological studies, have supported the healthfulness of the Mediterranean diet. When you ask experts about the health benefits of this “diet,” they are quick to tell you that it’s not a diet, but in fact a lifestyle. Instead of a prescriptive way of eating, it’s a recommended pattern that emphasizes certain foods and food groups. The major tenants of the Mediterranean Diet are:

  • It encourages plant-based eating with an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans and peas), whole grains, nuts and seeds.
  • It promotes healthy fats. It focuses less on total fat consumption and more on choosing better fats, like olive oil, in place of saturated fats, like butter. The traditional Mediterranean dietary pattern consists of 43% calories from fat, most of it unsaturated.
  • It encourages people to enjoy fish and seafood at least twice a week.
  • Cheese and yogurt are eaten regularly.
  • Eggs and poultry are enjoyed weekly.
  • It emphasizes herbs and spices to add flavor and to decrease salt.
  • It encourages people to limit their consumption of red meat and sweets.
  • It allows you to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, if you choose, and it recognizes the fact that both red and white wines provide health benefits when consumed in moderation.




What sets the Mediterranean diet apart is that it’s not only healthy but also flexible and delicious! These dietary recommendations can easily be adapted to meet specific tastes and needs. Also, using healthy fats, nuts, small amounts of cheese, and herbs and spices adds great flavor and interesting texture to dishes and can transform ingredients from ordinary to extraordinary.

Beyond the foods that are associated with this diet, it encourages people to enjoy the entire process of creating meals, including cooking and eating meals together. It also emphasizes being physically active each day.

Why Do Beans Matter?

Beans are a key component of the Mediterranean diet, but they are sometimes overlooked as one of the dietary contributors to good health. A lot of media attention focuses on other aspects of the Mediterranean diet like red wine or olive oil, but beans are not to be missed. They really are at the cornerstone of this dietary pattern. They have been a major food source in all the traditional food patterns in the Mediterranean, and they pack a unique combination of nutrients that gives them a profile similar to both a protein and vegetable. Further, beans have been identified as a factor in “Blue Zone” regions, areas of the world that researchers have identified as having the highest concentrations of centenarians. In “Blue Zone” areas, they found that the longest-lived people eat a full cup of beans every day!

How to Fit Beans Into Your Mediterranean Eating Pattern

 Incorporating beans into the Mediterranean diet is a no brainer because they are already a key dietary component, plus they are healthful, easy, and delicious. At breakfast, consider sautéing some dark leafy greens with extra-virgin olive oil. Add drained and rinsed canned black beans and top with poached eggs.  You have a delicious breakfast that packs a healthy dose of protein. Delight in a homemade pinto bean hummus with fresh vegetables and whole grain chips for a simple, satisfying snack. Whole grain pasta with fresh, seasonal vegetables and white beans makes an excellent dish that is easy, delicious, and great for entertaining a crowd. Or enjoy a fresh, heart-healthy salad with dark leafy greens, mixed vegetables, your favorite bean, a nice drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar. The possibilities are endless and delicious!

Also, remember that the Mediterranean Diet not only encourages eating certain foods, but also taking joy in preparing healthful meals at home. Cooking with dried beans is a simple yet rewarding process. Check out the Traditional Four-Step Method to preparing dried beans, as well as our interview with Dr. Guy Crosby from America’s Test Kitchen to read food science insights for preparing dry beans using the brining method.

Looking for more information and inspiring bean recipes?

Visit Oldways for a wealth of information on the Mediterranean diet and the World Bean Kitchen’s “Bean Cuisine from Mediterranean Masters” to discover delicious recipes that highlight the foods and flavors from this region of the world.