Sunday, February 20, 2011

Beans beans good for your heart, the more you eat the more you...

....want (gosh what were you guys thinking)

I think beans are an underrated health food. There are so many blogs out there advocating tofu, seitan, tempeh and other vegetarian protein sources that beans and legumes get to sort of get pushed into the background. But in reality beans are a wonderful, healthy food that is incredibly versatile and tasty. There are so many different varieties of beans, as well as tasty recipes that you are bound to find something that works for you.

Beans are an often-overlooked source of incredible health benefits. Some people believe that because of their high amount of carbs they they should be avoided and seen as a weight gain risk . Nothing could be farther from the truth though, as research has shown that the carbohydrates found in most beans are of the complex variety. Complex carbohydrates are not contributors to any sort of weight gain, instead providing the brain and muscles with a lot of good, stable energy supplies.

Beans actually contain a wider variety of healthy nutrients than most foods. These include calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium, folate, and alpha-linolenic acid. These nutrients work together on several key areas of the body promoting total health. Beans also happen to be good sources of proteins (around 15 g per cup), and when paired with other whole grains form complete proteins without the added fats and cholesterol often found in animal sources. Another thing that you might not have known is that, red, pinto, and kidney beans are the highest antioxidant food, beating both blueberries and cranberries.

Studies also tie beans to a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, , and breast and colon cancers high blood pressure. Sometimes the reduction in risk is substantial (the risk for heart disease, for example, may be reduced by as much as 22%.)

Here are some spesific health benefits of particular beans.

Black beans

Rich in anthocyanins, the same heart disease– and cancer-fighting antioxidants that are found in grapes and cranberries.

Garbanzo (chickpeas)

A recent study found that a chickpea-fortified diet slashed “bad” LDL cholesterol levels by almost 5%.


The thiamin (vitamin B1) in this bean protects memory and brain function; a deficiency has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

Potassium regulates blood pressure and ensures normal heart contractions.


Fiber helps stabilize blood sugar, lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Beans and legumes are a definite staple in my diet and I eat them at least 4-5 times a week. I like the versatility and different flavors they provide, because it helps keep things interesting. Besides that they're fairly easy to prepare, very cheap (unlike most other vegetarian sources of protein) and healthy to boot. You can substitute them in most meat recipes, blend and use them as thickening agents in soups, make a variety of sauces, dips and spreads or (if you're feeling daring) add them to your dessert.

Here are some tried and proven bean recipes:

Simple rice and beans (my go-to meal when I want something quick and simple)

There's no real recipe for this one. All I do is add:

kidney beans
tomato past and/or chopped tomatoes
sauted onions and garlic

I don't ever measure the ingredients because it is entirely to taste. All that goes into one pot and boils for about 20 minutes to infuse the flavors. Then I serve it over rice with avocado and yogurt. Delicious

Next on my agenda is : black bean brownies

1 comment:

  1. All of the recipes look splendid! Beans are such a groovy ingredient, I can't wait to try those black bean brownies, I've never heard of anything like them before, thanks for sharing! I feel like I've learned so much about beans and am ready to give them a bit more attention! :)