The Best Beans For Your Buck

Most of us are familiar with the 'bean song' which goes like this;

Beans, beans, they're good for your heart.
The more you eat, the more you fart.
The more you fart, the better you feel.
So let's eat beans for every meal!

I have no idea where the song originated, but whoever came up with it was actually on to something. Beans really are good for you!

Also known as legumes or pulses, they're basically just seeds from the pods of specific groups of plants. They're packed with protein and minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and folic acid, have almost no fat, are a great source of complex carbohydrates (the 'good' carbs), and can aid in lowering cholesterol and prevention of heart disease. As an added bonus, they're relatively inexpensive.

A trip to your local health or bulk food store can be a real eye opener as to the types of beans available. I've listed my three favorites here;

Adzuki beans (also known as azuki or aduki. Grown in East Asia and the Himalyas, the adzuki bean is quickly gaining popularity, particularly in Japan where it is now the second most popular beans after soybeans. It's been dubbed the weight loss bean because of its high nutrient value and low calories. Just one cup of cooked adzuki beans contains less than 294 calories, less than 1/4g of fat, a whopping 16.8g of dietary fiber and 17g of protein.

Mung beans - They may be small but they pack a nutritional wallop. Mung beans are grown in hot, dry climates such as those found in China, India, Indonesia, southern Europe and southern USA. They're commonly used in Chinese cooking. The bean sprouts with your Chinese takeout are likely from mung beans. Rich in potassium, iron, thiamin and magnesium, mung beans are easily digested and have become popular as a 'detox' bean. One cup of cooked mung beans contains 190 calories, 1/2g of fat, 2.4g of fiber and 13.6g of protein.

Soy beans - Used in a variety of foods such as flour, dairy alternative drinks, and meat substitutes, soy beans are the USA's leading agricultural export. There has been controversy around the genetic modification of soybeans, so if you're concerned about this look for organic, non GM soy products. Containing no cholesterol, very little sodium and packed with dietary fiber, iron, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus, one cup of soy beans contains 298 calories, no fat, 10.3 g of dietary fiber and 28.6g of protein.

Other beans that are a staple in my pantry are red kidney beans, white kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans and white beans.

My favorite way to use beans is in a salad. Here's a recipe that is easy to make, easy on the budget, very tasty and very good for you.

3/8 cup dried beans, cooked (use a mixture of whatever beans you want. Put in pot, cover with water, let stand for an hour, bring to a boil, and simmer until tender)
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 cup cooked whole wheat pasta (ie rotini, macaroni)
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
Fresh herbs to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine cooked beans, cucumber, tomato and pasta. Whisk vinegar, oil, mustard and seasonings together and pour over salad. Toss to coat.

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About The Author, Shawn Wilson
Datepad has a massive directory of informative dating articles along with a great list of dating site reviews on their dating blog.