Beans: What are they and what are they good for?
The Magical World of Beans: What are they and what are they good for?
Beans are one of the most versatile and widely consumed foods in the world. They are a nutrient-dense and cost-effective plant-based source of both protein and complex carbohydrates. There are many different kinds of beans, and they come in a variety of forms to explore, from dried to canned to fresh. In this month’s blog, we are diving into the magical world of beans and what exactly makes them such a unique food group.
What exactly are beans?
Let’s start at the beginning. Beans are part of the legume family, a subset of the vegetable category. However, unlike other foods in the vegetable category, they are 20% protein in their composition! Beans are unique in this way because they are classified as both a vegetable and a plant-based protein source (according to the USDA’s My Plate guidelines).
What are they made of?
Nutritionally, they are also abundant in complex carbohydrates, soluble fiber, folate, iron, vitamins, and minerals, all while being naturally low in sodium and fat, making them one of the very few foods that can fulfill so many dietary requirements all at once. Beans come in a whole plethora of flavor profiles, and their nutritional value varies depending on the type. Certain fresh varieties of beans (like string and green beans) register nutritionally more on the vegetable end of the spectrum, as they are lower in protein content. That means selecting which type of bean to use should be dependent on what nutrients and flavors you are looking to include (or avoid) in your diet.
What exactly are beans good for?
Beans are a great source of protein.
If you are vegetarian, vegan, or simply looking to reduce the amount of animal protein you consume, beans are an excellent ingredient to substitute for meat in dishes. They are filling, protein-packed, and have a texture that is hefty enough to be suitable!
Beans are super affordable.
Buying beans won’t break the bank! They are one of the most affordable sources of both protein and complex carbohydrates (not to mention fiber and a variety of other nutrients!)
Some beans count as vegetables in your diet.
Incorporating more of the green varieties of beans is an easy way to get more vegetables into your diet. Try opting for some green beans or string beans as a healthier alternative to starchy sides.
*The health information provided in this blog or in any linked materials should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult a physician, nutritionist, or health expert for suggestions, and advice, or to answer questions about your own health and unique dietary needs.*
1. USDA Department of Agriculture, myplate.gov/,"What are beans, peas, and lentils?"https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/protein-foods/beans-and-peas