Beans are nutritional powerhouses packed with protein, fibre, B vitamins, iron, potassium, and are low in fat.
Saponins and phytosterols in beans can reduce cholesterol, prevent cancer, assist weight loss and manage diabetes.
There are a vast number of different types of beans.
Cannellini beans are one of my favourite. They are sometimes referred to as white kidney beans. They are buttery and add such a wonderful flavour to dishes like my Tuscan Bean Soup.
They are also an amazing source of soluble fibre. Recent studies are showing the benefits of high fibre and beans in particular for controlling blood sugar. Beans have a positive effect on the important HbA1c levels.
In addition to their low glycemic index rating, cannellini beans also assist in taking off weight around the middle.
Black Bean Digestion Assistance
Recent research has shown that black beans provide special support for digestive tract health, and particularly our colon. By delivering a greater amount of indigestible fraction or IF to the colon, black beans are able to help support this lower part of our digestive tract. Lowered colon cancer risk that is associated with black bean intake in some research studies may be related to the outstanding IF content of this legume.
According to Cardio Smart a recent study advises that adding legumes to the diet can help control blood sugar and reduce cardiovascular risk.
All beans are excellent for maintaining good health including cardiovascular, blood sugar, cancer and even mood swings.
The trick to dried beans is to soak them over night and cook them for a much longer time than you would cook a canned bean. For less gas make sure you rinse the beans several times before cooking them.
You may be asking why I would include refried beans in a blog on healthy beans. As it turns out these beans are good for you.
They have all the fibre of boiled pinto beans. This means they are heart healthy, digestion friendly and can help control blood sugar.
The onion and garlic in these beans are extremely heart healthy. The non-healthy ingredient is bacon fat or lard.
For really healthy refried beans try changing the fat to olive oil. You may notice a slight difference in flavour but in the end it will be worth it. If you could still have a food you love simply by changing the fat it was cooked in would you not be willing to give it a try?
High fibre foods are good for you. Beans have a much greater effect on your health than some whole grains. They are versatile and delicious.
Now For the Fun Stuff
Healthy Tuscan Bean Soup
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 leek sliced thin
2 carrots diced
2 ribs celery diced
2-4 cloves garlic minced
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
2 15 ounce cans cannellini beans
2 Bay leaves
1/4 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups kale or chard chopped finely ribs removed. (optional)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
Parmesan cheese for serving
In a dutch oven saute the leek in the olive oil until wilted. Add carrot, garlic and celery and cook until softened but not brown. Add the herbs (feel free to adjust the amount to your own taste) and the broth. Add the beans and simmer about 15 minutes. Add the kale and cook until kale is soft.
Serve in bowls with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
If you love baked beans you will be happy to know that you can make them any time you want them. You can use canned pinto or white beans or soak dried beans overnight and rinse before boiling them.
If you use canned beans DO NOT DRAIN them. Open the can and dump everything into a small saucepan.
If you are making beans from the dried ones boil them until the liquid becomes thick and the beans are tender.
Add 1/4 cup of your favourite Barbecue sauce and stir well. Heat through and serve. If you like saucier beans feel free to add a bit more bbq sauce.
Although this recipe works great with whatever bbq sauce you want, my personal favourite is Guy Fieri’s sugar free bbq sauce. One note here is that these beans taste even better after sitting for a day in the fridge.