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The Healthy Cook: The Benefits of Beans

The Healthy Cook talks about the nutritional and money-saving values of beans.

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Hi, I’m Rebecca Katz and welcome to the Healthy Cook. These days we’re trying to find ways where we can save on our grocery bill, and here is the food that can stretch in all different directions, giving us tons of nutrition—protein, great source of fiber, and just pennies, just pennies. And it’s beans. So I want to talk to you a little bit about what you can do with beans, and how good they are for you. 

These are navy beans, which are great in soup, Pinto beans, which are wonderful stewed, black beans, which is the superfood of the beans because they’re dark. And the darker the pigment, the more nutrient packed the beans are. And here we have garbanzo beans. Garbanzo beans you might be familiar with for hummus. They’re also called chickpeas. And then one of my favorites is lentils because they cook so quickly. 

Also we have canned beans, and these are wonderful to have in your pantry. I mean, I always have a can or two or three of beans in my pantry. And here’s one of my tricks for using canned beans. First of all, when I open them, I drain them into a colander. And then I rinse them with water and give them a little shake to get the water out. And also, it gets all that goopy, syrupy stuff that beans are living in in this can. And then I take a little bit of lemon juice and just do a nice squeeze over the beans, and then a pinch of salt, give it a little shake, and they’re ready to go. 

If we’re using beans in a bag, which is very economical, you’ll take a dry a cup of beans, and you put them in a bowl and fill the bowl with cold water. And then you let the beans soak. So you want to soak dry beans overnight because a lot of the chemicals in beans that cause gaseousness are released when they’re soaked. And what that does is it makes the beans easier to digest and easier for you to absorb the nutrients of the beans. 

Studies suggest that the Mediterranean diet is great for lowering cholesterol levels, especially the LDL or the lousy cholesterol, and really good at regulating insulin levels and leveling out your blood sugar. Studies also show that a higher consumption of beans is helpful in reducing the risk of prostate and breast cancer. And all studies aside, you know what? Beans are incredibly versatile. They’re like accessories—you can just switch and swap and change and dress up a dish, and they’re just plain high in the yum factor.

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