I work hard at eating healthy. I look for foods that are convenient, low cost and healthy. Beans are foods that fit my criteria perfectly. Beans are easy to add to soups and salads. Beans are some of the healthiest foods around. They are high in complex carbohydrates, protein and dietary fiber and low in fat, calories and sodium. They are cholesterol-free. They also contain omega-3 and many nutrients including thiamin, iron, folate, potassium, magnesium and B vitamins.
However, I don’t think beans get the respect they deserve. Sure beans are found in some lists of “super-foods” when you do a web search. But you typically don’t see them touted in many articles about healthy foods. You see kale, blue berries, green tea, açaí, seaweed, pomegranates, quinoa and other foods. The more exotic the food is the better. You’ll even see eggs, salmon and yogurt which I don’t think deserve super-food status since they have drawbacks like cholesterol, saturated fat or added sugar.
I think beans have a perception problem. Beans are not seen as sexy or exotic. Beans are seen as simply common and as a poor man’s substitute for meat. Why do we need beans when we have meat?
I think we need to see beans as better than meat. Although meat is a good source of protein, meat has a few problems. High consumption of meat is associated with chronic ailments including heart disease, some types of cancer and diabetes. The big problem with meat is that its protein comes along with a good helping of saturated fat. Saturated fat is linked to high cholesterol levels and heart disease.
Beans are good. Think of including some beans in your diet.
Here are some good links I found about beans when I was :
SuperfoodsRx: Has a good overview of beans
American Diabetes Association - Superfoods
Bicycling.com: Cycling Nutrition - Magic Beans