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Beans: Nutritious and Versatile

Por Ana C. López, Nutrition Counselor, MyDiet™ -
Beans: Nutritious and Versatile

Whole or blended, served with rice and tortillas, or mixed in a delicious salad, beans are an extremely versatile food that gives your favorite recipes added nutritional value.

In addition to being a good source of vegetable protein, beans also contain soluble and insoluble fiber which improve digestion and prevent constipation. Also, soluble fiber decreases the re-absorption of cholesterol in the intestines and slows down the absorption of sugars. This is beneficial because it decreases and maintains blood cholesterol and glucose levels.

Among the many nutrients found in beans are: carbohydrates (main source of energy), proteins, vitamins(especially B complex such as niacin, thiamine, folic acid and riboflavin), and minerals (iron, calcium, zinc, copper, phosphorous, potassium, and magnesium among others).

As if that weren't enough, beans are naturally low in fat and are  cholesterol-free (due to their vegetable origin). In addition, they contain polyunsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic acid which is an essential fatty acid that is very healthy for your heart. These characteristics make them especially recommended if you have problems with high cholesterol.

Among the bean varieties, you'll find multiple colors (black, yellow, red, white, and purple), sizes, and shapes, but they are all loaded with nutrients and flavor.

Remember, if you leave beans soaking overnight or for a few hours before cooking them, it's best to throw the water away and replace it. Before beans are cooked, they contain substances called "tannins" and "phytates" which can affect the absorption of some nutrients such as calcium and iron. However, when you soak the beans, these "anti-nutritional" components stay in the water, therefore you eliminate them when you throw the water away and cook the beans.

Now that you know a little more about the properties of beans, add them to your diet and enjoy! Experiment by adding them to your favorite salads, soups or stews--or just enjoy them on their own!

Try the delicious recipes MyDiet™ offers:

Sourch: Serrano, José; I. Goñi (2004)."The Role of Phaseolus vulgarisBeans in the Nutritional Status of the Guatemalan Population." Archivos Latinoamericanos de Nutrición. Reviewed June, 2008 from http://www.scielo.org.ve/scielo

 

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