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Spill the Beans, Are They Healthy or Not?


I always tell my clients to “shop the perimeter of their grocery store.” Now, I’m realizing if they skip the middle, they’re missing out on some wholesome, delicious food choices. One of these items happens to be beans/legumes, one of the most neglected and under-valued items.

When I tell my clients beans offer a myraid of  health benefits, they usually tell me beans make them feel bloated and gassy? I used to feel the same way too! That is why I’m going to tell you my secret to not feeling this way and to get the biggest health benefits from them…I always soak and sprout my beans!

You can buy already sprouted beans at the grocery store, but they’re more expensive. That’s why I recommend taking dried beans home and soaking yourself.  Simply rinse and allow them sit in water for at least 8 hours.  When you’re ready to cook, add 3 cups of water to every cup of soaked beans, and simmer until tender.

This soak does the following for your beans and your belly:

  • Soaking removes the phytic acid found within raw legumes (which is what makes them hard to digest). This acid also binds with calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc which makes it impossible for you to absorb these nutrients from the bean unless it is broken down
  • Sprouting aids digestibility by diminishing some of the fat content and converting the dense protein into simpler amino acids
  • Sprouting breaks down the complex sugars also responsible for uncomfortable digestion
  • Sprouting allows you to unlock many of the nutritional advantages found deep within beans that are being locked up by anti-nutrients. Once the bean is sprouted it becomes a live plant with more nutrients and enzymes and those anti-compounds are cast away.

*One bag of beans will make about 5 cups, so the value is worth the cost! Purchase organic dried beans and if you must buy in cans, make sure they are organic BPA-free cans like Eden Organics

In addition to the cost effective healthy choices, beans are nutritional musts:

  • The amount of vegan protein you’ll receive from beans is huge. I’m adamant about getting plant based sources of protein & one cup of beans provides about 15g of protein!
  • Beans have the magic ratio of protein to fiber (15g to 15g) which you cannot find in fruit, veggies, grains, meats, nuts, or dairy products
  • Beans keep the digestive tract, heart, and muscles happy and strong!

These are 8 of my favorite and most beneficial legumes:

Black Beans – These medium sized beans have a dense, meaty texture and are great for Mexican inspired dishes, cold salads, and even cake.  Try my Black Bean Burgers for dinner and my Dark Fudge Black Bean Brownie for dessert.  Black beans are a huge source of fiber and this plus their protein content benefits the digestive tract, the blood sugar regulatory system, and cardiovascular system. They are also a great source of folate, vitamin B1, and iron for energy and vitality.

Pinto Beans – High in fiber and protein, 1 cup of this rich bean contains an excellent source of iron, magnesium, selenium, thiamin and vitamin B6. They are exceptionally high in folate, supplying 294 mg which is 74 percent of the recommended daily allowance.

Chickpeas – Regular intake of chickpeas can lower LDL and total cholesterol while their folate strengthens the blood vessels. Because of their high fiber content and low glycemic index they are excellent for weight loss. Especially for women, garbanzo contain saponins which act as antioxidants lowering the risk of breast cancer and protecting against osteoporosis.

Chickepeas are versatile and can be thrown into soups, pastas, and meat dishes.  You can enjoy in a delicious Roasted Veggie Bowl or Braised Chicken with Artichoke and Olives.  Chickpeas can be fried, roasted, or pureed into an array of hummus selections.

Cannellini Beans – White beans have strong detoxifying properties as they are one of the most concentrated food sources of molybdenum which is required to make and activate a number of detoxifying enzymes. Eat white beans to help your body cleanse and feel lighter! White beans are also low on the glycemic index which helps curb cravings and mood swings.

I can’t give up my comfort foods and Kale and White Bean Soup or Creamy Cauliflower “Alfredo” are delicious and make great use of cannellini beans.

Black Eyed Peas – A smaller legume, a 1/2 cup of these guys contains 239mg of potassium which helps keep your blood pressure at healthy numbers and lowers your risk of heart disease while supporting your muscles and bones. Black eyed peas are low in fat and low in calories making them a healthy addition to a weight-loss regimen. About a 1/2 cup is generally less than 100 calories and contains about 1g of fat. Also strong in iron, black eyed peas prevent anemia, fatigue, and weakness and ward off that sluggish afternoon low.

Navy Beans – If you’ve ever fallen asleep after your Thanksgiving turkey dinner, these beans will have the same effect! They are rich in tryptophan, an essential amino acid that you need to sleep deeply to rejuvenate your cells and stay emotionally calm. If you have insomnia or are dealing with too much stress, try navy beans at dinner to bring you into a calmer state of mind.

Kidney Beans – Red kidney beans are a hearty, nutrient dense bean perfect to fill you up. They are supercharged with antioxidants and anti-aging properties, promoting longevity and limiting damage caused by free radicals. They also help to protect the skin from environmental factors and unhealthy foods and are a complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids in the correct proportions.

My Summer Vegetable Minestrone is chalk full of vegetables and kidney beans!

Lentils – Lentils prevent constipation and IBS and are also a huge source of molybdenum. Their iron value will boost your iron stores and transport oxygen around your body, increasing energy and blood flow.

I have so many great lentil recipes, I don’t know which ones to share! Quinoa and Lentil Chili, Lentil and Squash Salad  and Coconut Curried Lentils are just a few!

From soups, salads, “meat” loaf, to hummus and dips, I vote beans the most versatile food around. Bring them back into style with me by checking out my recipe blog or e-mail me and I’ll help you come up with recipes to fit your dietary needs!



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