Beans like kidney beans, pinto beans, white beans, black beans, lima beans and fava beans are all more than just “the magical fruit.” They’re an excellent food choice that’s packed full of fiber and plant-based protein. Plus, they’re affordable! Keep reading for more on these three reasons to get on board with beans in your healthy lifestyle.
Beans are full of fiber. The nutrition profile of beans is unique in that it’s similar to foods in both the vegetable food group AND the protein food group. Like vegetables, beans are an excellent source of fiber. And getting enough fiber (ideally about 25 grams a day for women, and about 38 grams a day for men) can help keep you regular, stabilize blood sugar levels, and aid against heart disease. Why? Because fiber passes through your digestive system practically unchanged. Here are some quick reference values for the fiber content of various cooked beans:
- ½ cup of black beans = 7.5 grams of fiber
- ½ cup of garbanzo beans = 6.3 grams of fiber
- ½ cup of soybeans = 5.2 grams of fiber
Beans provide a good source of plant-based protein. We just shared how beans are similar to vegetables. But beans are also like meats in that they are superb sources of protein, no matter if you’re a vegetarian, vegan or not! One half cup serving of cooked beans has about the same amount of protein (7 grams) as one ounce of cooked chicken, beef, pork or fish.
Beans won’t break the bank. Meats are often the most expensive ingredients at the grocery store, but you can give your wallet a break by incorporating more beans at meal and snack times! Here are some simple ideas for your week:
- Blend beans into a dip like hummus.
- Crisp beans in the oven for a crunchy snack.
- Sub beans for half the meat in a recipe, such as half lean ground beef and half black beans for tacos.
Fortunately, canned and dried beans keep for a while so you don’t have to stress about them
spoiling soon. Just remember to drain and rinse your canned beans to reduce the amount of
sodium that makes it into your meals and snacks.