If you haven’t noticed, we’re big on beans.
Colorful hummus (a beet and edamame version) and a delish bean soup are more recent creations, but bean tacos and bean burgers have been long-term staples on our household menus. We always keep beans (and lentils) on hand and they find their way into at least one meal every day.
So what’s all the fuss about?
Beans are Filling
When meat eaters find out that we fill up on plants, oftentimes they assume we’re just chowing down fruits and veggies. While these are delicious and we eat a ton of them, eating only fruits and veggies simply is not sustainable. We’re active and we prefer to be very satisfied after each and every meal. This is where beans are KEY! They offer fullness at the end of the meal, and hours later. If someone is eating plant-based but doesn’t feel full, I often find that their diet lacks bean (or whole grains).
Want to learn more about feeling full? Check out our satiety post.
Compared to animal products, beans are a steal. ??? If you’re looking for an easy way to save on groceries, simply swap out beans for animal products. A 1-pound bag of dry beans at our local grocery is $1.49. That is 26 servings – coming out to 5.7 cents a serving! You’ll pay a little more for the convenience of canned, but still they’re just $0.89 for 3.5 servings (25 cents a serving). On average, boneless chicken breast is a little over $3.00 per pound. At a standard dinner table, this might serve just 2 people.
With this difference, the savings can really add up quickly. Not to mention, if you compare the good-for-you stuff in each of these options, beans give you WAY more bang for your buck!
Convenience, Convenience, Convenience
This especially holds true for canned (or boxed) beans. They require no cooking or prep. Simply open, pour and enjoy! Also, dry beans can last for 1-2 years in the pantry while canned are good for 3+ years. So stock up when they’re on sale!
A great example of how convenient beans can be is one of our favorite go-to, in-a-pinch meals: Loaded Baked Potatoes. It’s quick, filling and delicious.
Beans are truly a multipurpose food. Needing a healthy snack? There’s limitless flavors of hummus. In the mood for Mexican food? Go for Red Bean Tacos, White Bean Burritos, South of the Border Spaghetti Squash, or Black Bean Salsa. If Italian is more your style, top your pasta with meat-less balls. Beans can be incorporated into a quick and filling salad. They make for a great base for a burger. When it’s time for dessert, beans have you covered, just check out our Peppermint Brownies and Cinnamon Almond Blondies.
A unique, but acceptable, use of beans is simply opening a can of white beans and topping with apple cider vinegar for a quick meal or snack. Weird, we know, but it’s one of our dad’s favorites.
The options are endless!
Tons of variety
When eating beans, you don’t have to worry about getting bored. Bean options that you can find at most groceries include black, navy, pinto, black-eyes peas, chickpeas (garbanzo), cannellini, great northern, kidney, lima, fava, adzuki, mung, edamame and soybean. Soy also comes in multiple forms, such as tempeh and tofu. And that’s just beans!
In the lentil world there’s red, yellow, green and brown. Beans and lentils both fall into the legume category. One bonus with lentils is that, compared to beans, dry lentils cook in just a fraction of the time.
Beans are associated with weight management, blood sugar control, heart disease prevention and longevity. To quote the title of the longevity study “Legumes: the most important predictor of longevity in older people of different ethnicities.” Go Beans!!! ? They help decrease both blood pressure and bad cholesterol. Beans are rich in fiber, making them great for gut health.
With so many benefits, no wonder Dr. Greger recommends 3 servings of beans each and every day.
But.. What about the gas?
This is a common – and legit – question. If you’re worried about beans giving you gas, these tips can help. First, start by incorporating small amounts into your day (1/4 cup) and then gradually increasing the amount. The body will adjust. Secondly, choose lentils rather than beans, as these are easier for the body to break down. Choosing fermented options such as tempeh and tofu can help as well. Finally, chew thoroughly and eat slowly. This is an important tip for general gas prevention!