Mediterranean Diet: Beans & Legumes

Posted on May 31st, 2018
Ever wonder why the beans in Jack and the Beanstalk are magic? Because they are indeed just that… MAGIC! Beans not only are a tasty protein addition to Mediterranean Diet Month, but they are magical for your health and your wallet. Learn about different types of beans, how they are beneficial and even some tasty recipes.
Beans and legumes are actually called pulses. I personally think it is a great word, especially since they are great for hearth health. Beans are naturally low in sodium and they are full of fiber. Fiber, particularly the soluble fiber found in beans, has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol. It also aids in lowering blood pressure and inflammation.
Pulses are also great for the prevention and management of diabetes. Fiber slows the adsorption of sugar, in turn improving blood glucose levels. They are also nutrient dense, which means they are more filling and are less caloric for the same amount of foods with less nutrition.
One of the best parts about beans? They are super economical. They cost less per pound than animal protein and can be stored for longer. They also can stretch a meal…. have unexpected dinner guests? Throw some beans in your dish and a little can go a long way.

Lima Beans

Lima Beans, commonly called butter beans, contain almost 40% of our daily recommendation of folate. Folate has been shown to aid in breast health and cancer prevention. Dried lima beans, as well as any dried bean, need to be soaked before cooking ideally overnight. Then they can be prepared by boiling for 20 minutes and adding a tablespoon of butter… hence the name butter beans. They are simply delish. If you do not care for them plain, why not trying them in soup or a cold salad or prepare the salsa below.

Lentils

Lentils come in a variety of color; Red, yellow, orange, green or black, these beans pack a mighty punch as a protein replacement. They take on a meaty like texture so they are perfect for taco meat, used as spaghetti “meat” or thrown in soups and stews. Lentils are my favorite. They can be used in so many ways. The lentil tacos listed below (I use red lentils and decrease the chili powder) are very tasty and my kids didn’t even notice that it wasn’t meat.

Kidney Beans

A popular addition to chili, kidney beans are also found in red beans and rice, an alternative to refried beans and in cold bean salads. More versatile than most, they are also great in the recipes below.

Chickpeas

Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas, like all beans, help prevent constipation and aid in digestion. Keep your digestive tract on course bu trying one of these recipes below. Most people associate chickpeas with hummus (try the beet hummus… You WON’T be sorry), but canned chickpeas can be thrown atop a salad or roasted to make a delicious crunchy snack.

Black Beans

Black beans, aka turtle beans, help to strengthen bones. They are are full of iron, along with fiber and protein, to help keep your bones in the best shape they can be in. Black beans go great in burritos or in a salad. They are an alternative bean in hummus and they also can be substituted for the fat in a brownie recipe.
As we close Mediterranean Diet Month, we hope that you have incorporated some of the healthy tips and recipes into your daily routine. Beans and legumes along with cheese, avocados, olive oil, seafood and herbs are not only key in a Mediterranean Diet, but also a map for a healthy diet for anyone no matter what capacity.
For more information on beans and legumes visit http://pulses.org/nap/
Information included does not constitute medical advice and should only be used as a general recommendation for a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle. Reasor’s Registered Dietitian opinions and recommendations are her own; she is not paid to endorse any products or services.