Wait....what do fairy tales have to do with food, or witches casting spells for that matter? (Seriously, I promise this will all make sense if you read on! I can't help it, I've recently been inspired by Katy Perry's song: "Dark Horse" from her album Prism!)
I grew up eating these fabulous legumes (beans) in soups, chili, hummus, 3 Bean salad, baked beans, etc., but never knew their nutritional impact.
It's no secret that Vegans and Vegetarians rely heavily on beans to substantiate their "meatless" diets. But, are beans really that good for you? I mean, are they really a substitute for the protein found in meat? The answer is YES!!! (Please don't be put off by the "gas factor"! By eating beans at least 2-3 days a week, this unpleasant side effect associated with it will be no more, and will actually help keep your digestive tract healthy! However, there is always "Beano" just in case.)
Beans are also considered a "Superfood", for their amazing dietary properties. Believe it or not, there is actually a "US Dry Bean Council", and it is an excellent website to go to for any/all information on the power of dry beans!
All of the dry bean varieties contain an excellent source of easily digestible protein, fiber, antioxidants, and an amazing amount of vitamins and minerals. In particular- black beans, have a higher amount of phytonutrients than some of the other beans- which are especially helpful in reducing the risk of colon cancer. Beans also have been linked to reducing the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, as well as beneficial to those that are diabetic. Although beans can be high in carbs, they are also high in protein and fiber. The fiber actually slows down the absorption of glucose in the blood while being digested- which doesn't much effect the sugar levels for those with the disease. (I myself had Gestational Diabetes with my last pregnancy, and was not aware of this! I often wondered why my blood sugar levels didn't spike after eating beans with other carbs! For Diabetics, feel free to consult with your Doctor/Dietician first.)
They are also beneficial for: reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, those with food allergies/ Celiac disease, pregnancy/ healthy babies, muscle and bone strength, healthy blood and nervous system, maintaining a healthy weight, and providing energy and vitality. Some of the vitamins/minerals found in beans are: Protein, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Flavonoids (an antioxident), vitamin B9, Iron, Vitamin B1, phosphorus, zinc, Vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin B2, and Vitamin B3. For you to really gain the optimum benefit from beans, the USDA recommends that we include at least a 1/2 cup of beans daily into our diets. With today's economy, beans happen to be very inexpensive, and readily available in almost every market and grocer. In meals, they are so versatile, and can be used in most soups, stews, rice or casserole dishes, salads, dips, main dishes, appetizers, and even desserts!
So, what are you waiting for? Go out and stock your shelves full of beans today.....you'll be glad you did!
**For some recipe ideas on beans, visit my "Recipe" page!
Resources: USdrybeancouncil.com & whfoods.com