Do you recall this childhood playground song? In celebration of National Bean Day, take a minute to learn why you should be eating beans.
Although beans are not a fruit, they may be magical because they fit under not one, but two food groups. Within USDA’s MyPlate they are found under the vegetable and protein groups because they are so packed with vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber.
Beans are a mature form of legumes. They include kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, lima beans, and garbanzo beans (chickpeas). All are available in dry, canned, and frozen forms. These foods provide other nutrients such as iron and zinc and are excellent sources of plant protein. They are similar to meats, poultry, and fish in their contribution of these nutrients. Thus, they are considered part of the protein group. Many consider beans a vegetarian alternative for meat. However, they are also considered part of the vegetable group because they are excellent sources of dietary fiber and nutrients such as folate and potassium.
The high nutrient content makes consuming beans recommended for everyone, including people who also eat meat, poultry, and fish regularly. The USDA classifies beans as a subgroup of the vegetable group. The USDA also indicates that beans may be counted as part of the protein group. This allows individuals to count beans as either a vegetable or a protein food.
Beans are convenient and cost effective. They are available in the dry form in sealed bags and precooked in cans. A can of cooked dry beans can easily be used in dips, main dishes, soups, or salads.
How do canned beans compare to dry-packaged beans?
Canned beans are convenient since they don’t have to be presoaked and cooked. They can be eaten straight from the can or heated in recipes. According to the American Dry Bean Council, one 15-ounce can of beans equals one and one-half cups of cooked dry beans, drained. For most recipes, one form of beans can be substituted for the other.
Unless canned without salt, precooked canned beans generally are higher in sodium than dry-packaged beans. Always thoroughly drain and rinse canned beans in a colander or strainer under cold running water before using them in a recipe. This may help lower the amount of sodium by 41% and may help remove some of their potential gas-producing properties.
- Beans are low in fat and calories and high in dietary fiber and protein. The fiber in beans provides a sense of fullness that helps keep food cravings down. Depending on the variety, a half cup of cooked dry beans is only about 120 calories.
- Because of their high fiber, low glycemic index, and high nutrient content, eating beans may help reduce the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers.
Recipes and Uses
Navy beans are great for soups, stews, or baked beans. Kidney beans are used in chili and three-bean salads. Pinto beans are used refried in stews and dips. Black beans are used in casseroles, soups or baked bean
dishes. Great northern beans and lentils are used in soups and stews. Garbonzo beans are used in salads and hummus. Check out these “no recipe required” bean meals and snacks.
Writer: Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, email@example.com
The Bean Institute, http://beaninstitute.com/no-recipe-required-pdf/
The Bean Institute, http://beaninstitute.com/volume-6-number-2-2015-dietary-guidelines/
Michigan State University Extension, http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/eat_more_dry_beans_enjoying_their_health_benefits
United States Department of Agriculture, https://whatscooking.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/factsheets/HHFS_BEANS_BLACK_110020.pdf
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, http://food.unl.edu/chili-bean-dip
US Dry Bean Council, http://www.usdrybeans.com/