Adulting is hard, let’s just admit it. You have to pay bills, and keep things clean. And forget about late-night greasy meals – the older you get the harder your body will punish you for this transgression.
You don’t have much of a choice, you are going to munch on some beans and other healthy things now and then. So let’s take a look at what you will get out of it.
A larger variety than you thought
Most people are aware that there are different types of beans – a three-bean salad is a rather good indication of this.
What you perhaps didn’t know is that there are estimated to exist over 400 different kinds of beans.
Most of these won’t be for sale at your local grocery store, as beans are produced and consumed locally all over the world. Besides, a 400-bean salad would just be silly.
In South Africa we produce three different bean species:
- The common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris). This includes varieties such as the small white and red speckled (sugar) beans.
- The tepary bean (Phaseolus acutifolius).
- The large white kidney bean (Phaseolus coccineus).
|What are dry beans?|
|Dry beans are legumes that form seed pods. These seed pods tend to split when the seeds are mature. The beans mature right there on the plant until the pods have dried.|
Then, the whole plant gets pulled up, placed in the shade and is left to dry for one or two more weeks, after which the pods are split and the beans removed.
Interestingly, in the case of green beans the seeds are too small to harvest. So we just eat the whole thing – pod included.
Health benefits of beans
Nope, you can’t secretly feed the beans to the dog under the table anymore. As an adult, they are part of your responsible, healthy lifestyle. Here’s why:
- Beans are a great source of amino-acids, the building blocks of protein. Protein is vital for repairing and maintaining the body.
For many people meat is their main source of protein, but beans are a great option for vegans and vegetarians.
- Beans are also a good source of folate. This is a nutrient that makes healthy red blood cells and takes care of general health. In case of pregnancy, it helps prevent neural tube defects in a fetus.
- Beans are rich in antioxidants. Free radicals in the body cause cell damage which can lead to various diseases, including cancer. Antioxidants help the body to get rid of free radicals.
- Beans can help to keep your heart healthy.
- Beans contain fibre, which can help lower blood glucose. Furthermore, beans can help stabilise blood glucose levels and help prevent diabetes.
- Beans can prevent fatty liver, which sometimes develops as the result of obesity, high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
- Beans improve gut health by increasing the number of beneficial bacteria in your intestines.
These are healthiest types of beans and are guaranteed to give your meal plan a health boost:
- Kidney beans
- Black beans
- Soy beans
- Pinto beans
- Navy beans
|Did you know?|
|Dry beans are usually soaked in water for a few hours before being cooked. Soaking them reduces the cooking time.|
It is also commonly accepted that soaking removes some of the sugar in beans that cause flatulence, making your bean consumption less offensive to others.
Some swear by this advice, while others state that it is simply not true and nothing more than an old wives’ tale.
Can beans help you lose weight?
The taste of beans does not come near that of chocolate, but yes, they can help you lose weight – in more ways than one.
Firstly, beans can help you control those hunger pangs that sometimes cause you to give in to temptation and sabotage your weight loss.
The fibre and healthy starches present in beans can help you feel fuller and satisfied for longer. This, in turn, helps present overeating.
Making beans a regular part of your diet makes you more likely to have a lower body weight, slimmer waist and a lower BMI. This can be done fairly easily, by adding beans to soups, salads, stews and the like.
A slim figure is even more likely if you make beans your main source of protein. In other words, replace meat with beans.
According to some sources, being high in soluble fibre also contributes to beans being able to fight the inflammation that causes the accumulation of belly fat.
Some types of beans do contain a fair amount of calories, but they are low in fat. Do some research on your preferred type of bean to ensure you get your calorie counts right, but don’t cut beans out of your diet.
They are highly underrated and will do more good than harm to your diet.
|Very random bean fact|
|In the unforgettable 1991 thriller Silence of the Lambs, main character and cannibal Hannibal Lecter famously said about another character: “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”|
Did you know that fava beans are more commonly known as broad beans? They are creamy, earthy, nutty, slightly sweet and slightly bitter.
As for the rest of Mr Lecter’s meal, we’d rather not guess what it might have tasted like.
Can beans harm you in any way?
In some types of beans, a substance called tyramine can cause problems, triggering migraines being one unpleasant example.
Some beans and legumes can also trigger an allergic reaction in some people, with peanut allergies being the most well-known.
A peanut allergy can cause symptoms such as hives, redness, swelling, itching/tingling in the mouth/throat area as well as diarrhoea, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.
For those still worried about the flatulence…
All of a sudden eating a considerable amount of beans because you are serious about healthily losing weight could certainly leave you with this uncomfortable problem.
Different people respond differently to different types of beans, so if you struggle, try a different kind of bean. Another way to manage flatulence is to start slowly and eat small portions in the beginning.
This gives your body time to get used to the gas-causing substances in beans. Gradually start eating beans more regularly, or eat larger portions.
You should find, if you eat beans often, that you will suffer from flatulence less often. Other helpful tips are to chew your beans properly, and to drink more water.
Beans cause gas because they contain oligosaccharide, which is a type of sugar. The human body does not produce the enzyme needed to break down this sugar.
This means that it travels all the way to the large intestine undigested. Here, bacteria feed on these sugars, causing fermentation and the production of gas.
The body then releases the gas in the form of flatulence.
We often hear of the superfood-qualities of spinach, kale and other greens, but beans are no doubt highly underrated as a health food.
Not only are they ridiculously nutritious, but there are many kinds to choose from – no need to force down a bean you don’t like.