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Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Bean, Beans, the Magical Fruit

You know the saying...The more you eat, the more you....let's just leave it at that! Beans have a reputation that makes us giggle (or blush), but beans have a serious side, too!

My nickname at a previous job used to be The Bean Queen. Everyone would come out of a consultation with me with the goal of eating more beans!

What exactly am I talking about? I am not talking about green beans (although they are good, too), but rather legumes, which is a big word for "dried beans." We don't actually eat them "dried" but that is the technical term for them. You do not need to purchase them dry (and soak overnight) to get the health benefits. Purchase them canned, open the can, and enjoy! It couldn't be easier!

You probably know them by the different varieties: pinto, black, kidney, pink, red, cannelini, navy, adzuki, cranberry, great northern, and garbanzo. You had no idea there were so many, did you? I even consider split peas, lentils, and blackeyed peas to be legumes, too.

Why should you eat beans? Well, for one they taste great! They are versatile and work in numerous recipes. Other nutritional highlights:
  • Low fat
  • High fiber
  • High protein (for a vegetable)
  • Folic acid, potassium, magnesium
  • Rich in antioxidants

Beans have soluble and insoluble fiber. Most beans have between 6-8 grams of fiber per half cup cooked. That is almost a third of your fiber for the day! Fiber and protein are filling, so eating beans will keep you full longer, helping you to manage your weight. They are also low in glycemic index, so they keep your blood sugar under control.

Interesting Facts:
  • In the 17th Century, beans were thought to be a magic cure for everything from the common cold to baldness
  • The US is the world leader in dried bean production
  • Michigan grows and exports 12 different varieties of beans
  • Red beans are the highest antioxidant vegetable (higher than spinach or broccoli!)
  • Pinto beans are the most popular bean consumed in the US at an average 2.67 pounds per capita
  • Duke, the loyal dog in the Bush bean family, is actually camera shy and they hired a stunt double named Duffy to act in the commercials and travel to events to get pictures taken with loyal fans.
My favorite bean is the garbanzo bean, also known as the chickpea. Bush's beans has an awesome recipe for Crunchy Garbanzo Beans as a snack! This is a very healthy alternative to chips or high fat nuts!

Another recipe favorite is Chocolate Lover's Chili. I LOVE chili, and this is a tasty twist on chili!

Oh, and one more thing.....if you are concerned about beans being too "magical", give Beano a try! It is a wonderful thing!

Check out these links for more bean information:

Photo courtesy of istockphoto.com
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About the Author


Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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