Just like the saying goes, beans truly are “magical.” Beans are the ONLY food that are a lean protein, an excellent source of fiber AND a vegetable all in one.
Wondering if you read that right?
YES, beans are so full of nutrients that, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (the most scientific source for diet recommendations), beans (and green peas) count toward your recommended 5 servings of vegetables daily, even the beans in your burritos!
Beans are high in both vitamins and minerals. They contain many of the b-vitamins, which help the body produce energy and aid in many other bodily functions. Beans are especially good for women to eat as they are high in folate and iron, two essential micronutrients that many females do not get enough of, contributing to anemia (low iron) and birth defects (low folate).
Beans certainly have a reputation for moving things through the digestive tract. That’s because just one cup of beans has enough fiber to meet your daily requirement; about 30 grams. That’s a ton more than even other high-fiber foods; for example, a piece of whole wheat bread has 2 grams of fiber. So beans are the best source of fiber per volume of food.
Fiber has some really important health benefits. It lowers cholesterol which reduces risk of developing heart disease. It also rids the gut of harmful bacteria that can cause colon cancer. And since it aids in excretion, it can also help prevent diverticulitis and hemorrhoids. Yet another great thing about fiber is it makes you feel full. Therefore, it’s a natural weight loss aid. So, eating beans means you can eat low calorie without going hungry.
Last but not least, beans are very high in protein.
This is good news for firefighters since they typically eat a lot of meat and majorly over-consume protein. While I don’t promote vegetarianism, I do try to help firefighters see that meat (even chicken!) contains cholesterol and saturated fat, and there are other, leaner sources of protein. You might be surprised to know that one cup of beans has over 40 grams of protein in it. A 180 pound (82 kg) man only requires 65 grams of protein daily.
A question I frequently get is whether this applies to all types of beans. The answer is yes – except green beans which belong to a different family altogether (but are still a healthy food)- garbanzo beans (chickpeas), kidney, black, pinto, even refried beans! In Mexican food, it’s often better to enjoy beans in homemade dishes since Mexican restaurants typically cook their beans in lard.
Try eating four half-cup servings of beans per week. Your arteries and your waistline will thank you.
(Part 6 of 6 FINAL)