There’s a reason why most people get too
much carbohydrate and fat and too little protein: most kinds of protein are expensive. Meat and cheese, two of the
best sources of protein, are also two of the priciest ingredients you can buy.
Beans are a cheap crop, readily available
in large tins for not very much money at all, and yet they are an excellent source of protein, and taste good too.
There’s no shortage of variety, either: you can get everything from baked beans to kidney beans to butter beans,
all lined up there in the same section for you.
Beans are also called legumes and pulses.
These include lentils, kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas and many others. These are a perfect balance of fibre,
protein and complex carbohydrates. Dietary fibre found in beans lowers the risk of prostate
Because bans are a very good source of
protein, we can use them to reduce our meat consumption, as red and processed meat can increase the risk of several
cancers including colorectal. Hence, replacing some of the meat with beans in soups and stews
If you’re not sure of what to do with
them, find some vegetarian recipes, which tend to be very bean-heavy, and give them a try.
It can even be nice to mix together a few
different kinds of beans and have a bean salad with a sauce – a simple side dish, but an easy way to add protein to
your meal. Pasta with a dairy-based pasta sauce containing beans is an example of an ideally balanced meal, as long
as you don’t overdo it with the pasta, as is rice with bean curry.
Beans release their energy slowly, which
is good for blood-sugar levels and appetite control, so they help with weight management. Carbohydrates found in
nutrient and fibre-rich beans, for instance, are caught up in strings of fibre and inedible material. When you
consume them, they are slowly released to your body as it needs them and therefore most of them are used up
completely and don’t turn into fat.
Beans contain folate and vitamins A and C.
Mature (shelled) beans are high in protein and iron but can cause flatulence. Fava beans may be toxic to some
Lima and Fava beans are a good source of
protein, providing about 7 gram per half cup serving. The same size serving of baby or green lima beans contains 2
mg of iron, more than twice the amount as the Favas and four times the amount in a half cup of green snap
All these varieties hold folate and
vitamins A and C. Shelled beans have more thiamine, vitamin B6, potassium, and magnesium. The soluble fibre in
shelled beans may lower cholesterol, but the presence of carbohydrates such as raffinose may also cause flatulence.
Green beans are one of the best plant sources of iron.
Some Mediterranean people lack an enzyme
needed to protect red blood cells from damage by vicine, a toxic substance in fava beans that causes a type of
anaemia. Those taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors to treat depression should avoid fava beans. The combination
could raise blood pressure.
Now, some types of beans – most notably
lima beans and soybeans, have some natural toxins in them that are made safe by cooking.