Why Beans Top Our Superfood List August 22, 2016

by Jacqueline Parisi Behind the Scenes
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     We’re spilling the beans on one of the most underrated and mind-blowingly nutritious foods out there. They may be tiny, but beans definitely top our superfood list. Continue reading to learn why…

    We soak, boil, sauté, roast, and mash beans. They’re tossed into salads, piled high onto taco shells, and pureed into dips and hearty soups. Odds are you have these small but mighty gems hiding somewhere in the pantry but never realized how awesome they are. That’s about to change.

    We did some digging and talked to our expert dietitian, Rebecca, to get the lowdown on all-things beans. Here’s what you need to know about the inexpensive, delicious, and incredibly nutritious ingredient coming in at number one on our superfood list:

    What exactly are they?

    Beans are the edible seeds of pods. They fall under the legume family and are related to lentils, peanuts, and peas. Dating back at least 4,000 years, beans are among the oldest foods known to humanity.

    What’s so awesome about them?

    Although small, beans pack a mighty nutritional punch.

    • Loaded with protein

    Most legumes contain 17-25% protein, which is roughly double the amount in grains and higher than that of most meat and eggs.

    • Heart-healthy

    People who eat more legumes have a lower risk of heart disease, thanks in part to their high concentration of potassium and magnesium. Together, the two elements remove sodium and water from your cardiovascular system while regulating blood pressure.

    • Full of fiber

    The fiber in beans provides you with a sustained supply of energy, staves off hunger, and helps you maintain a healthy body weight. Plus, it stabilizes the rise of blood sugar that occurs after eating, which can also help stabilize your mood.

    • Rich in iron

    Beans are a perfect meat substitute thanks to their high concentration of iron. To put it in perspective, one cup of boiled black beans provides 29% of our daily recommended iron intake.

    Nutrition isn’t their only claim to fame  beans are also sustainable.

    By enriching the soil, they reduce the need for chemical fertilizers. Additionally, they require very little irrigation and boast one of the lowest carbon footprints of any food group.

    And the cherry on top? Beans are an incredibly affordable source of plant-based protein.

    In fact, the cost per serving is just $0.10 compared to $0.63 for chicken, $0.73 for pork, and $1.40 for beef.

    What’s the difference between each type?

    Of the over 40,000 varieties of beans out there, our four favorites are black beans, cannellini beans, chickpeas, and kidney beans.

    Black Beans:

    • Appearance: small and black with an ivory flesh
    • Taste: earthy, slighty sweet taste that pairs well with smoky chipotle flavors
    • How to use: puree into a hearty soup or add to salads

    Cannellini Beans:

    • Appearance: beige and kidney-shaped
    • Taste: creamy flavor
    • How to use: perfect for garlic bean dips

    Chickpeas:

    • Appearance: tan, round, and slightly wrinkled
    • Taste: nutty and buttery flavor
    • How to use: puree into a hummus dip or deep-fry into falafel

    Kidney Beans:

    • Appearance: deep red with a tough skin
    • Taste: robust, full-bodied flavor
    • How to use: key ingredient in chili and other Creole-inspired dishes

    Put your legume knowledge to good use by trying your hand at homemade hummus — you won’t believe how easy it is.