January is always a time for fresh new beginnings. This is when we often think about uncluttering our homes, and “cleaning up” our lifestyle habits. Unfortunately, many of our well-intentioned resolutions fall to the wayside as the months move on. This year why not think about taking some small, sustainable steps that are easy to incorporate into your daily routine. For example, set aside time to get 30 minutes of physical activity a day, establish a regular sleep pattern, and add more Michigan Beans to meals. Yes, the simple routine of adding more beans to your eating plan can have a big impact on your overall health. Here are 5 reasons to make beans more bountiful in your diet this year:
- Beans Are Naturally Nutritious. Beans are a good source of plant-based protein and are an excellent source of fiber. A 1/2 cup serving of cooked beans averages 115 calories, 8 grams of protein, 21 grams of complex carbohydrate and 7 grams of fiber. And beans are a “double-duty” food! Because of their unique combination of nutrients, beans are considered both a vegetable and protein food – a perfect addition to a healthy and sustainable plant-forward eating plan.
What does “regular bean consumption” mean? The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommends eating about 3 cups of legumes, like pinto, kidney, or black beans per week. If you eat about ½ cup of beans every day, you’ll meet the weekly Dietary Guidelines for beans.
- Beans Provide Healthy Benefits. Several studies show that the regular consumption of beans may reduce the risk of many diseases including heart disease1, diabetes2 and cancer3. And there’s more great news! People who consume beans frequently tend to have a lower body weight.4,5 Eating more beans can also support a healthy gut and immune system. Beans contain a beneficial type of non-digestible, fermentable fibers called oligosaccharides. These fibers feed the good, helpful bacteria in our gut.6
- Beans are a Versatile Part of Mealtime. Beans can be served with any meal or snack, and add flavor, texture and nutrition to savory and sweet recipes like soups, salads and smoothies. They are also a favorite addition to popular Mexican dishes like tacos, nachos, quesadillas and burritos. Cook up a batch of dry edible Michigan Beans and freeze them in batches for recipes and stock your “cantry” with a variety of canned beans for a quick and convenient meal ingredient.
Sodium concern? Draining & rinsing canned beans removes up to 40% of added sodium.
- Beans are Super Affordable! Beans are one of the lowest cost per serving protein foods and their addition to a few weekly meals is a great way to stick to your food budget. Substituting beans for meat one to two days a week for a year, could save several hundred dollars per year. When shopping for food it’s also important to purchase items that provide the most nutrition for your money. Beans are one of the most nutrient-rich, low-cost foods you can add to your cart.
- Beans are Part of a Sustainable Eating Pattern. Research shows that consuming more plants, like Michigan Beans, can benefit the environment. Beans are good for people and the planet! Michigan Beans, and all pulses, are natural soil enrichers. They have the ability to obtain nitrogen directly from the air and convert it into nutrients. This results in reduced fertilizers, less greenhouse gas emissions and lower carbon footprint for beans. (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)
In addition, dry beans can be stored for long periods of time without losing their nutritional value. Therefore, food waste from bean spoilage is minimal. And when you consume canned beans, the can is 100% recyclable.
8 “no recipe needed” ways to include more beans in meals:
Breakfast with Beans – Add beans to your favorite omelet, quiche, or frittata. They are also a great addition to a breakfast burrito with eggs, cheese and vegetables.
Satisfying Smoothies – Add drained, rinsed canned beans to your favorite smoothie recipe to boost the protein and fiber content.
Bean Hummus/Dip – Serve this easy snack with veggies and whole grain crackers. Shop your local store for premade bean dips or create your own easy White Bean Hummus for a convenient, nutrient-rich snack.
Protein Powered Salads – Salads are a delicious way to add more veggies to your eating plan and adding beans can pump up the protein and fiber to help you feel full longer. Add your favorite beans to any vegetable, grain, or pasta salad.
Wraps & Sandwiches Beans make a great addition to almost any sandwich or wrap. Mash or puree your favorite bean to replace high fat spreads on your sandwich, or toss whole beans in your wrap for extra protein and fiber.
Tacos, Burritos, Nachos, and Quesadillas – Beans are a favorite addition to Mexican cuisine. Whether served as a simple side, or enjoyed in a favorite recipe, beans are a natural fit to add flavor and nutrition. Beans are also a great meat substitute for any vegetarian or vegan eaters.
Create Meals with Beans & Grains – Beans, along with other vegetables, can be used to create simple dishes with grains like pasta, rice or quinoa. There are so many delicious grains available to experiment with! Just add sauce or seasoning to create a satisfying, nourishing and cost-effective meal. If you want to boost the fiber content, use brown rice or more “exotic” whole grains like quinoa or barley.
Soups, Chilies and Stews – Beans are a staple in many favorite chili recipes, soups and stews. Toss some leftover beans in vegetable soup, use a leftover ham bone to create a warm, satisfying bean soup, or create a new chili recipe for your family. This easy White Chicken Chili only uses 6 ingredients – just serve with blue tortilla chips for family-friendly dinner!
Kabagambe EK, Baylin A, Ruiz-Narvarez E, Siles X, Campos H. Decreased consumption of dried mature beans is positively associated with urbanization and nonfatal acute myocardial infarction. J Nutr. 2005;135:1770-1775. Bazzano LA, Thompson AM, Tees MT, Nguyen CH, Winham DM. Non-soy legume consumption lowers cholesterol levels: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011;21:94-103.
Hosseinpour-Niazi S, Mirmiran P, Sohrab G, Hosseini-Esfahani F, Azizi F. Inverse association between fruit, legume, and cereal fiber and the risk of metabolic syndrome: Tehran lipid and glucose study. Diabetes Res Clin Prac. 2011;94:276-283. Jenkins DJA, Kendall CWC, Augustin LSA, Mitchell S, Sahye-Pudaruth S, Mejia SB, et al. Effect of legumes as part of a low glycemic index diet on glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Arch Intern Med. 2012; Epubdoi:10.1001/2013.jamainternmed.
Aune D, De Stefani E, Ronco A, Boffetta P, Deneo-Pellegrini H, Acosta G, et al. Legume intake and the risk of cancer: a multisite case-control study in Uruguay. Cancer Causes Control. 2009;20:1605-1615. Thompson MD, Mensack MM, Jiang W, Zhu Z, Lewis MR, McGinley JN, et al. Cell signaling pathways associated with a reduction in mammary cancer burden by dietary common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). Carcinogenesis. 2012;33(1):226-232.
Papanikolaou Y, Fulgoni VL. Bean consumption is associated with greater nutrient intake, reduced systolic blood pressure, lower body weight, and a smaller waist circumference in adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2002. J Am Coll Nutr. 2008;27(5):569-576.
Abete I, Parra D, Martinez JA. Legume-, fish-, or high-protein-based hypocaloric diets: effects on weight loss and mitochondrial oxidation in obese men. J Med Food. 2009;12(1):100-108.
Learn more about beans and access great recipes and more at MichiganBean.com