Say “superfood” and most of us immediately think of bountiful bowls of fruits and vegetables. But beans? The fact is that beans deserve to be on everyone’s superfood shopping list. As a staple in the Mediterranean Diet, they’ve been shown to improve health and longevity, and they taste great, too.
Beans can have the reputation for being simply a meat substitute for vegetarian menus. While it’s true that beans make a smart addition to any vegetarian diet, they’re also a great choice for clean-eating menu plans. Beans dishes are high in protein, which provides muscles with fuel. They’re also loaded with fiber, slowing down the digestive process so you feel full longer. Just one cup of cooked beans offers about 12 grams of fiber—almost half of the 25 grams recommended daily for adult women.
Healthy beans are, quite simply, superstars when it comes to eating for better physical well-being. For instance, a study of about 64,000 women found that those who ate a diet high in legumes were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. In fact, the more beans they ate, the lower their risk.
Eating healthy beans dishes is also part of a heart-healthy diet. Heart disease is the top killer of women in the United States. Beans offer phytonutrients, antioxidants, and a generous dose of fiber to help keep the ticker in good working order.
Should you buy dry or canned beans? Dry beans have no sodium and are the most natural form of the food. They do require more time to prepare because they typically need to be soaked and cooked before being used in healthy beans recipes. Canned beans are convenient for most families, since they have a longer shelf life and are ready to go right out of the can. When shopping for canned beans, look for options with no added sugar and little or no-added salt.
Here’s your guide to 8 Beans from the Mediterranean Diet…
Beans for Better Health:
Black Beans– These legumes shine in soups, stews, and Latin American-inspired dishes. Try them in our gluten-free, vegetarian Skinny Quinoa with Black Beans.
Black-Eyed Peas– Use these healthy beans in salads, casseroles, and a variety of Southern-inspired dishes.
Chickpeas– Also called garbanzo beans, these are a good fit for minestrone soups, casseroles, and hummus recipes. Give them a go in these high-protein Garbanzo Curry Burgers.
Edamame– You’re probably hearing lots about this superfood, which is also known as green soybean. It’s a super-healthy snack on its own, but it also tastes yummy in rice dishes and salads.
Fava Beans– Sides and stews are ideal beans dishes for this superfood. Fava Beans with Garlic and Lemon is great as an afternoon snack.
Lentils– These “beans: are a good choice for stews, soups, and side dishes. They’re also popular in Indian-inspired recipes. Love lentils in these Lentil-Zucchini Pancakes.
Lima Beans– Try these healthy beans, sometimes called butter beans, in soups, salads, and casseroles.
Red Beans– Kidney beans, either light or dark, are a staple in chili, rice dishes, and stews. Add this slow cooker recipe for Monday Beans and Chicken to your menu plan.
Curious about going meat-free? Check out Vegetarianism and Your Health: 3 Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet and Top 10 Meatless Monday Recipes.