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Why Aren’t You Eating More Beans?

Garbanzo Beans, Kidney Beans and Black Beans

People constantly ask me what they should eat to help them reduce their cholesterol. So, naturally I start listing food items that I know help lower cholesterol, such as, oatmeal, oat bran, walnuts, almonds, fish, olive oil and beans.

When I get to beans most people say, “Stop there Talli, beans make me gassy and  I just can’t eat that.”  My reply is always “What a shame, because beans have so many health benefits that you are missing out on.  Plus there are ways to reduce the gas.”

Why You Should Eat Beans

Beans are among the healthiest foods that you can eat. They provide a multitude of nutrients and antioxidants that can help lower cholesterol, fight infections and diseases and may even lower the risk of certain types of cancer. The United States Department of Agriculture placed beans in their number one spot, out of twenty, for the common food that has the highest-antioxidant levels.

Health Benefits
Beans are rich in:

  • Calcium – Necessary for growth and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. A calcium deficiency can lead to rickets and osteoporosis.
  • Iron – Increases your energy and protects you from infection.
  • Zinc – Important for healthy skin and immune system.
  • Potassium – Aids in promoting proper muscle contraction and nerve impulses and promotes optimal electrolyte and pH balance in your body. It also helps to regulate blood pressure.
  • Folic Acid – Decreases risk of spinal birth defects and has been shown to decrease risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Protein – Necessary for growth, development and repair of body tissues and muscles.
  • Fiber – Helps relieve constipation and helps with weight loss by creating a feeling of fullness. Fiber also lowers your chances of developing conditions like heart disease, some cancers, diabetes, kidney stones and diverticulitis.

Ways To Minimize Gas
A common problem with beans is gas, which is caused by certain complex sugars that cannot be digested.  But the good news is that there are things you can do to minimize this gas.

  1. Try to purchase the freshest dried beans. It seems that the longer the bean has been sitting around, the more likely it is to cause gastrointestinal discomfort.
  2. Soak your beans overnight and discard the soaking water 2-3 times. The complex sugars are released into the water.
  3. Then when boiling the beans in water, make sure to discard the water again. Don’t use that water in a soup base.
  4. If that’s not enough or you aren’t able to make your own beans from scratch, you can add a food enzyme dietary supplement to your beans before eating them, such as Beano to help break down the complex sugars and reduce gas.

These methods listed above can eliminate a significant amount of the gas-producing complex sugars.  If you don’t have time to start from scratch and you buy canned beans instead, be aware that they have extra sodium. If you don’t want that sodium, make sure to wash the beans off first. That should remove a lot of the salt.

Beans are also a great, low fat food. They contain no cholesterol, little fat (except soybeans which are high in unsaturated fat) and have a low glycemic index. That makes beans great to consume if you are diabetic or trying to lose weight.

Plus, beans provide almost the same amount of protein as meat. Usually, one or more essential amino acids are missing, but that gap can be filled by eating other foods such as bread, rice, dairy products or small amount of meats, when eaten the same day.  However, the protein in soybeans is considered by many to be a complete protein source. So, why are you not eating beans again?

Comments (19)

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  1. Gotta love beans!

    Really though, they are great, but didn’t know the antioxidant concentration.

    Thanks for the heads up!

    Wonder how refried beans play into that…

    I think I’m makin burritos tonight :)
    -Sean

  2. Nicole Gustas says:

    I actually eat beans almost every day! I have never had any digestive problems with beans (lucky me!)

    I think some people don’t realize that each bean has its own flavor. Just because they dislike one bean doesn’t mean they’ll hate ‘em all.

  3. LindaM says:

    I’m a lucky one too..love’em and can eat’em. I love black beans in my salads. Nice post Talli–and no excuses folks, eat ur beans!

  4. Talli van Sunder says:

    @Sean It depends where you get the refried beans from. At fast food places they tend to be full of saturated fats or trans fats. However, if you make it on your own it can be healthier.

    Here is a link to an article with a recipe: http://tinyurl.com/6gmn4a

  5. Talli van Sunder says:

    @Nicole I agree! There are lots of great varieties out there. In my kitchen I have 7 different types of beans for every occasion. Off course, there is many more out there. :-)

  6. Rosy says:

    First of all, Talli is so right,eat more beans! I believe the more beans you eat, the less gas you will experience. It’s similar to eating certain fresh veggies, such as, broccoli or cauliflower, once your body gets use to it, then you are good to go.

  7. Blake Hagen says:

    I love beans. My mom is from Guatemala, so naturally, I grew up eating beans. Great info on the beans. thanks!

  8. i think i eat TOO MANY beans. If i could only eat garbonzo beans for the rest of my life, Id abe one stinky, happy camper.

    Kelly Turner
    http://www.groundedfitness.com

  9. Faye says:

    You’ve got me into beans!

    They’re cheap too!

    Thank you!

  10. rob sellen says:

    Very true, I eat alot of beans, beans on toast is lovely.

    The thing I find with beans is they are so easy to have, they are so adaptable and work in lots of combinations.

    I think alot of people underestimate the value of beans.

    Apart from the gassing aspect that is! ;)

    Didn’t know you could minimise that so I learn’t something here and thanks for that, I can make sure I DO that when I cook em for my boys!

    Take care,

    Rob

  11. Ah, the forgotten world of legumes! I eat beans regularly and as you mentioned, soaking the beans overnight is a great way to curb any digestive issues.

    Now there’s no excuse not to eat them.

    Thanks for that great post Talli!

  12. I have learned to love beans. I embrace them. Cook lovely meals with them. They are a side dish, a main course, and a nice appitizer. If you have Celiac’s, like my daughter and I, beans replace oatmeal, bran, and all those other gluten ladden, colon cleaning goodies! Plus make a mean white bean and ham soup that is to die for!

  13. I love beans….I don’t love my hubby on beans.

    I can’t wait to try your technique.

    Off to look for some recipes…..

  14. Mark Salinas says:

    I love me some beans! Great post….so much information! Thank you!

  15. [...] asks Why Aren’t You Eating More Beans? She even shares some secrets on how to combat the gas [...]

  16. Annette says:

    I cook with beans at least twice a week! They are also economical on a budget :)

  17. [...] dried beans overnight prior to cooking: This will remove some of the carbohydrates that cause gas.  Make sure [...]

  18. cjacobs says:

    Hey, Just wondered how many cups of beans or the quanity you should eat at each meal. Is it a cup of beans for dinner instead of meat, I am trying my best to get off of meat and have started to eat beans. I just need to make sure I am getting the protein at each meal so I can get the fiber. For breakfast I don’t mind eating beans either but need to know if it is 1/2 cup or cup. Thanks for having patience with me. CJ

  19. Isabel van Sunder says:

    We eat it sometimes.

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