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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Beans, beans the wonderful...

Many cultures around the world use beans as part of their culinary repertoire. They are a wonderful vegetarian source of protein. In Ghanaian food beans are used in two very popular dishes: Red-Red (fried plantains with spicy bean stew) and Waakye (pronounced "waa-chay" a mixture of beans and rice).

I recently realized that I have taken beans for granted, more or less assuming that one bean was as good as another. Yet, from a health perspective, all beans are not created equally. Just as comparison shopping among brands will yield surprisingly different nutritional content for different brands of the same product, so too beans differ. Black Beans, Pinto Beans, and Black-eye peas are all excellent sources of fiber, but they also all have more calories than Kidney or Navy beans. While Black-eye peas are a great source of fiber, they have far less protein per serving than the other beans. Protein and fiber together is part of what makes beans such a wonderful tool for feeling satisfied long after a meal.

The beans also vary widely in the vitamins and nutrients they contain. Kidney and Navy beans both offer at least one third of your daily vitamin C, much more than the other bean varieties. Black-eye peas are a great source of vitaimins A and C. In fact, Black-eye peas offer nearly as much calcium per 100g serving as spinach, making them a great source of vegetable-based calcium. Read on to see a side-by-side comparison of basic nutritional information for the several of the most common varieties of beans.

8 comments:

Laura said...

I would never have guessed there was so much variation either. Thanks for the interesting post.

Erin said...

Glad you liked it. I stumbled onto the idea accidentally while gathering some general nutritional information for some recipe posts I was writing. And I was completely floored by how different beans were from a health perspective. Amazing!

ei! kumpel said...

great info, thank you so much for sharing! I had no idea about such variety!

Deborah Dowd said...

Great post! We are incorporating beans more and more into our diet. I even saw a recipe for black bean brownies on 101 Cookbooks I am dying to try!

Erin said...

Ei and Deborah, Glad you thought it was interesting. I have to say it will definitely affect the way I choose beans from now on. The black bean brownies sound interesting. I have made brownies heavy on dried plums before. I bet it is a similar idea.

porcalina said...

WOW - for once my favorite variety of something also happens to have the fewest calories. YEY!

Candace said...

Back in 2006, Relish magazine ran a great story on Rancho Gordo, a food grower in Napa Valley specializing in beans. Here's the link to the article:

http://www.relishmag.com/article/21034.html

and to an ID of the beans he has available:

http://www.relishmag.com/article/20529.html

gourmet gift said...

Lentils have always been my dieting secret. I know they are technically a legume but they are high in fiber and protein.

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