Did you know, thousands of new processed food products are introduced each year, with billions of industry dollars spent encouraging us to eat them?  The US is now the most overweight industrial nation in history.  Do they really think we need more food?

Top Ten Reasons to Eat Your BeansNewsflash industrial ag!  You’re heading in the wrong direction.  We don’t need more additives, chemicals or GMOs, it’s time we turned back to the basics, where natural nutrition and good taste meet.  In other words, back to the beans.

Beans are so nutritious that the latest dietary guidelines recommend we triple our current intake from 1 to 3 cups per week  If nutritional punch and sheer deliciousness don’t grab you, how about the biggest bang for your buck as another great reason to get those beans boiling?  Here are ten quick reminders that reserving a regular spot for legumes on the menu is a key means to better health.

  1. Protein and antioxidants.  1 ½ cups of cooked beans contain protein equivalent to one serving of animal based protein, without the saturated fats and cholesterol.  They contain more nutrients too!  In a U.S. Department of Agriculture study, researchers measured the antioxidant capacities of more than 100 common foods. Three types of beans made the top four: small red beans, red kidney beans, and pinto beans, but all varieties are a good source of these important nutrients.
  2. Value.  Dollar for dollar, beans offer the most satisfying, nutritional value there is.  Here’s how:  pick up a cup of black beans in bulk for about .50, which cooked gets you 3 cups, then pour them into some organic corn tortillas alongside brown rice, chopped avocado and salsa, you’ve got a high protein, fiber-rich, super nutritious dinner for 2 for about $5.  Now that’s what I call a happy meal, factory farm-free of course.
  3. Heart health.  According to Dariush Mozaffarian, MD and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, certain key food s can dramatically reduce your risk of heart disease.  Studies show eating that eating legumes like beans and lentils at least four times a week had a 22% lower risk compared with eating them once a week or less.   Like Hippocrates said, “let food be thy medicine”.  Who are we to disagree?
  4. Easy to cook – even for the most culinary-challenged among us.  Many recipes require less than five ingredients, and you simply can’t go wrong with black beans, a little coconut oil and salt.   Give it a shot and you’ll quickly discover, delicious, home cooking just doesn’t get any easier.
  5. Delicious.  My molasses-baked beans, garlicky hummus or Fudgy Black Bean Brownies wow ‘em every time.  So much better than anything you can pick up pre-packaged, and less expensive too!
  6. Weight control.  In a recent study, bean eaters weighed, on average, 7 pounds less and had slimmer waistlines than their bean-avoiding counterparts — yet they consumed 199 calories more per day!  Here’s the skinny:  Fiber rich foods like beans actually bind to nutrients to keep them from blasting through the small intestine and creating an insulin rush, which will leave you hungry again sooner than later.  Fiber keeps things slow and steady, even helping to move and eliminate excess fats through the digestive system instead of padding your hips and thighs, just as it should be.
  7. Minimal packaging requirements.  Another good thing about beans, they’re so practically indestructible they need very little packaging.  How often have you gotten your perfectly packaged pasta home, and the once-lovely linguini has turned into spaghetti confetti?  Never happens with beans.  You can run practically them over with your car, wash ‘em off and serve them for dinner that same day.   So bring your own bag, head to the bulk bin, and effortlessly gather your vittles, waste-free.
  8. Reduce cancer risk.  Certain starches found in beans are through to mimic estrogen and effectively assist in helping to pass harmful forms of this hormone through the body.  According to author and dietician Dave Grotto, “Black beans may also block the circulation of estradiol, a form of estrogen that’s a problem for those at risk of cancer”.  And these days, who isn’t?
  9. Versatility.  With dozens of different varieties and thousands of easy bean recipes out there, you won’t be bored.  Since beans don’t need to be refrigerated (stored properly, they keep for at least 2 years) and are easy to find in bulk, simply stock up and start experimenting.  Try boiling some white beans ‘til soft, whip in some pesto to taste and you have a fantastic dip for veggies and crackers.  On the next go round, chop some onion and celery, add olive oil and balsamic, and you have a delicious Italian White Bean Salad – you get the idea.
  10. Sustainably grown.  To date, probably the most widely-accepted water estimate of water required to produce a pound of beef is 2,500 gallons/pound, ten times the amount required for the equally protein-dense soybean.   Newsweek once put it another way: “the water that goes into a 1,000 pound steer would float a destroyer.”  Or you can just stick with beans.

Worried about too much music?  Here are some easy tricks to keep those beans gas-free.

Soak your beans overnight and rinse well before cooking.  Slow cooking on the stovetop (aside from lentils, most varieties cook for about an hour.  You can’t over cook most legumes, so just keep em boiling until their soft, which often takes long then you think.  Tossing in a few cumin or fennel seeds, a a bay leaf, a slice of fresh ginger or a 3” strip of dried kombu seaweed during cooking can also do the trick.