Beans Do Double Duty as a Super Food Vegetable with Protein
There aren't many foods that hold more than one place on the food pyramid. But, long before the concept of super foods was known, our ancestors appreciated the benefits and healing powers that beans offer, both as a protein source and a vegetable.
Traditional Indian medicine has recognized a system of living and healing for hundreds of years that includes a vegetarian diet. They have utilized legumes like peas, lentils, and beans, for ages to keep their bodies healthy. Middle-Eastern cultures have followed suit, and many people now recognize the power of beans in supporting well-being and wholesome nutrition. Beans are well respected as a super food with a double dose of healthful benefits.
Beans Have Many Levels of Nutritional Value
Beans are part of a family of edible seeds contained in pods called legumes. Beans are a favorite food in many parts of the world because they are inexpensive, convenient, and easy to prepare. They store well at home, and have great potential for a long shelf life, especially when dried.
Beans offer sustained energy and nutritional value due to their low glycemic index. This means that the energy beans provide is released slowly over a long period of time. They satisfy appetites for longer periods of time.
There are enough varieties of beans and legumes to choose from to prevent you from getting bored with one type for long. There is also a wealth of delicious recipes to help incorporate beans into your daily diet. A short list of the more popular varieties would include black beans, lentils, navy beans, great northern beans, mung beans, soybeans, pinto beans, black eyed peas, garbanzo beans, and kidney beans.
Beans are an excellent source of minerals, vitamins, and fiber, and are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. Many delicious and nutritious main or side dishes will satisfy your appetite completely, and have less-costly consequences for your body than other proteins from meats. These are compelling reasons that earn beans their super food status, but there's more to offer here.
Eating multiple servings of beans every day helps fulfill your daily vegetable requirement, but also adds healthy protein to your diet. That's why we consider them a super food with "double duty" health benefits. Beans go well in recipes with vegetables, starches like corn, whole wheat, or brown rice, and other protein sources, creating 'complete proteins' that contain all the necessary amino acids our bodies need to function well.
Beans Contribute Important Health Benefits
One of the best qualities beans provide is that they make excellent additions to any diet as a meat substitute. Reducing the amount of high-fat protein sources like red meats in your diet is a wise decision. Substituting low fat beans as a protein source helps lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and a host of other ailments that occur from high-fat diets.
Beans also have high levels of antioxidants that battle free radicals, which damage cell tissues in our bodies. This benefit varies between different bean types, but all beans help regulate blood sugar and blood pressure levels, aid digestion, and help lower cholesterol. Beans also contain enzymes and dietary fiber to help block compounds in the intestines and colon and other cancer-causing cells.
Kidney beans contain a healthy dose of thiamin, which regulates brain function and memory. Many bean types also contain isoflavones, which can improve bone and prostate health and ease menopause symptoms, among other benefits. Thus, any bean you choose will apply as a super food well worth its title.
Beans are a main ingredient in countless healthy dishes like stew, soup, stir fry, tacos, chili, salads, omelets, and casseroles. Experiment with several combinations for satisfying main dishes and side dishes.
Beans and rice is a classic dish many people enjoy, but you don't have to limit your options. Create a tasty, new bean dip for chips, or combine a few different types in your next salad. Beans are versatile enough to be served, cold, hot, whole, or mashed.
Economically, dried beans offer the best value, as opposed to canned varieties. Cooking dried beans is simple. Rinse dried beans and cover in water, then soak them overnight. When you're ready to cook, cover them with fresh water in a large pot, bring to a boil and simmer for an hour or so until they're soft.
You can also skip the soaking method by increasing the cooking time to around two hours.
There are also many recipes for cooking dried beans in a pressure cooker or crockpot. A little bit of research will give you some great ideas, in combination with any directions on the package itself.
Your body will benefit from a healthy dose of beans, as a super food with plenty of nutritional power. Meals with beans will satisfy the heartiest appetites without consuming large amounts of calories and fat. They are economical, and provide high fiber, vitamins, and minerals. A bag of beans in your pantry is a handy protein source for quick, healthy meals.