We’ve heard the jingle, but few of us know what makes beans such a healthy food. Beans are packed with fiber and protein to help keep you strong and prevent disease. While a lot of people eat their legumes in the form of calorie-laden Mexican refried beans or barbecue baked beans, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy the nutritional powerhouse.
Black Beans: Like most beans, black beans are a good source of fiber, which lower cholesterol. When combined with whole grains, like brown rice or whole-wheat pasta, black beans are filling and delicious. They’ve also been said to be as rich in antioxidants as grapes and cranberries, two foods that have been touted as “super fruits.” Try them in a fish with black bean salad with a figure-friendly white fish like tilapia.
Kidney Beans: As their name suggests, kidney beans are shaped like kidneys and hold their shape well during cooking. They readily absorb the flavors they’re cooked in, making them the perfect addition to soups, stews and chili. Whip up a batch of Chicken Chili for the health benefits from kidney beans and more.
White Beans: There are several varieties of white beans, the most popular being Great Northern Beans and Cannellini beans. Cannellini beans are large with a traditional kidney shape. With a thin skin and creamy flesh, they puree well, perfect also for salads and ragouts. Alternatively, Great Northern Beans are smaller with a strong, nutty flavor that stands up well on its on without a lot of extra flavoring. Try Cannellini beans in our favorite Veggie Burger recipe.
Garbanzo Beans: More commonly known as chick peas, Garbanzo beans are a key ingredient in Middle eastern and Mediterranean dishes, including hummus and falafel. Alone, they have a nutty taste perfect for roasting as a snack or eating raw on salads. Try a homemade hummus recipe with a Tunisian twist: Tunisian Spiced California Raisin Hummus.