Whether you’re a plant based foodie, eat all the meat, or are somewhere in between, there’s a place (and a need) for the addition of beans and legumes in your diet.
Here are 5 reasons why you need to make beans part of your regular diet:
1. Beans are super versatile
Gone are the days of simply opening up a can of beans, putting them on your plate and calling that dinner. There are so many things you can do with beans, that there’s no reason not to be incorporating them into several of your daily meals. You can make burgers, Bolognese or falafel for dinner, chickpea salad or hummus for lunch and delicious bean based puddings and bread for dessert. And let’s not forget about the many uses for the bean brine from a can of chickpeas. Known as aquafaba, this is the vegan alternative to egg whites, whipping up to that airy, meringue-like texture and standing in for meringue toppings, marshmallow fluff and macaroons! If you haven’t tried it out yet, be sure to save your chickpea brine from your next can.
2. They fill you up
The combination of complex carbohydrate, plus high amount of protein means that beans will fill you up and leave you feeling satisfied after just one serving. Not only does this mean you won’t overeat at dinner time and have oversized portions, but when combined with a healthy fat source, such as avocado, they will leave you feeling fuller for longer and less likely to reach for the bag of chips mid-day, or have that sweet, sugary dessert just before bed.
3. They’re loaded with fiber
Just to add in another part to the equation of how much beans will fill you up, they’re loaded with fiber. Coming in at nearly 150% per cup of your daily intake for chickpeas and 200% per cup for kidney beans, eating your beans is a sure way to up your fiber intake. In addition to filling you up, fiber is essential for maintaining healthy digestion and aiding in moving food through the intestine for elimination. Low fiber diets mean food sits in your stomach, causing gas, bloating and water retention and making it difficult for you to successfully lose weight. Balance out the fiber in beans with that from sources such as oats, ground flax and apples with the skin on!
4. They’re a great source of protein
Whether eat meat or not, everybody can benefit from selecting from a variety of protein sources and beans are a great go to. As a plant protein, it is easier to digest than that of animals and is not as acid forming. One cup of black beans or chickpeas can provide over 75% of your daily protein requirements, while kidney beans can provide almost 90% in just one cup. The best part though? If you are trying to lose weight, beans and legumes tend to have lower amounts of fat than meat, and a much better bang for your buck in terms of nutrients.
5. They’re nutrient dense
If you are eating a variety of beans, you are stocking your body with heaps of nutrients that you aren’t able to get as easily from other protein sources. Not only do they have fiber and protein as listed above, but they also contain B vitamins, magnesium, potassium and iron. Furthermore, beans such as black-eyed peas and lupini beans are high in resistant starch. This is the starch that resists digestion in your gut via digestive enzymes, and instead waits to be digested by bacteria, offering a food source for your healthy gut bacteria. Finally, boldly coloured beans like kidney beans and black-eyed peas are a great source of antioxidants.