Jack exchanged his family’s cow for a handful of beans, not just any beans, magical beans, beans that changed his family’s lives forever. I find it symbolic that he exchanged beef for beans. That is what many Americans are doing. They’re reducing their consumption of meat, and are turning more often to dried legumes. They are good for you, and they provide tasty food with great recipes.
Don’t Live Without Them
Beans and legumes are wonderful because of what they do to your body. They are a great source of protein without the fat and cholesterol. They lower cholesterol levels, control diabetes, prevent constipation, and help maintain optimal weight.
Dry beans and peas are known as legumes and grow in pods that hang from the stems of plants. In the pods are hidden lentils, peas, beans, and peanuts which have been part of people’s diet for thousands of years. Beans were cultivated in China, Egypt, Central and South America, and Africa.
Despite their bad reputation (flatulence) and their long cooking time, dry beans and peas have the most protein from all plant foods. They also contain starch, dietary fiber, and are a good source of iron, potassium, folic acid, and B vitamins including thiamine, niacin, and folic acid. Legumes are also low glycemic index foods.
|"A green bean". Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.|
Great Source of B Vitamins
Legumes are an excellent source of B vitamins, even though some B vitamins are water-soluble and are lost in the process of cooking. A serving of cooked beans supplies 40% of the daily recommended amounts of thiamine and B6. Black eyed peas, can match liver and wheat germ for the folic acid content per serving.
Dietary fiber plays a major role in maintaining healthy weight in a few ways. Fiber slows down the speed in which food gets processed through our stomach and leaves us feeling full and satisfied with no desire to continue eating. Fiber also promotes bowel regularity.
Combine Beans and Grains for Better Protein
Research has indicated that amino acids in beans join perfectly with those in grains to provide protein that is equal or better than animal protein. Lentils and rice, minestrone soup, or a peanut butter sandwich provides the protein found in a hamburger, an omelet, or a serving of chicken. Recent research has brought to light that beans have anti-aging agents or antioxidants found in the seed coat. There are eight flavonoids in the outer bean layer, six of which are particularly strong anti-oxidants.
Are Beans and Legumes Honored Guests in Your diet?
Beans and legumes are a hearty food and contain nutrients that are beneficial to our health. Combined with their rich protein content, that could be a great substitute for meat thus avoiding concentrated saturated fats and cholesterol and keeping your weight at bay.
Finally, beans and peas are low-fat. Whatever fat they contain is Polyunsaturated which protects us from blood vessel and heart diseases. The food pyramid calls for having 5 – 6 servings of beans and legumes weekly.
Serving size: 1/2 cup dry beans and legumes.
*Based on “Jack and the Beanstalk”, an English folk tale