Whether you call them beans, legumes or pulses, beans are nutritionally wholesome. They are gastronomically versatile, economical, and with the exception of soy, most beans are non-genetically modified foods. Beans are a great source of soluble fiber, high-quality protein and minerals, including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium and zinc. Soluble fiber has been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels.
How are beans trending?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that affects about 2.5 million people in the United States. An estimated 18 million people have gluten sensitivity and many others have joined the gluten-free trend for health reasons. The only treatment for celiac disease is to eliminate foods containing gluten which damage the small intestine. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye or barley. According to Euromonitor International, sales of gluten-free products in the United States could reach about $1.31 billion dollars in 2011. Chick pea, lentil and soy flours have been used to reformulate foods containing gluten. Lentil and pea flour can be used in gluten-free pasta, pizza crust and to boost the nutritional composition of other foods.
Low Glycemic Index – Foods with low glycemic index are digested slowly and produce a slow and steady rise in blood sugar levels. Beans have a low glycemic index. Studies have shown that eating beans help manage blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance.
Resistant Starch – As the name indicates this type of starch is resilient to digestion. Lentils, peas and white beans are good sources of resistant starches. The health benefits of resistant starches include: blood glucose management, maintenance of good digestion, and weight maintenance.
From breakfast to dinner, great ways to include beans in every meal:
- Breakfast: Bean/egg burrito with pico de gallo
- Snack: Red peppers/Carrots/Grape tomatoes with a hummus dip
- Lunch: Black bean soup with a chicken breast/guacamole/tomato sandwich
- Dinner: Pasta with white beans and escarole
[i] http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/28/food-glutenfree-idUSS1E78L1CZ20110928 [ii] http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/R-D/Beans-peas-lentils-From-poor-man-s-meat-to-the-hottest-gluten-free-ingredients [iii] “http://www.usdrybeans.com/2010/09/diabetes-bibliography/