Beans – Why Are They Important?

— Written By and last updated by Nicole Vernon
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Beans and legumes are some of the most underrated foods. They are great sources of dietary fiber, protein, vitamin B and other important vitamins and minerals. There is good evidence that they can help reduce blood sugar and help improve cholesterol levels. Beans and legumes contain antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and fight disease and again. There are many types of beans. Dried beans need cooking to make them tender enough to eat. Canned and frozen beans are typically ready to eat after warming on the stove or in the microwave. Some of the most popular bean varieties include:

  • Lima beans
  • Black beans
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Soybeans
  • Kidney beans
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Navy beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Red beans

Beans make an excellent source of proteins for vegetarians and vegans. They are also lower in calories and saturated fat than some other protein sources, such as meat and full fat or lower fat dairy products. People who consume beans regularly may be less likely to die of a heart attack or other cardiovascular problems. Some studies have shown that beans act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. These effects could reduce the risk of cancer. Beans may help stabilize blood glucose levels or even prevent diabetes. Beans are high in fiber, which can help lower blood glucose. When you eat beans, the fiber and healthful starches they contain can help create a feeling of fullness and satisfaction. When preparing dried beans:

  1. Wash them before cooking them and remove any that are shriveled or discolored.
  2. Soak beans overnight to soften them and shorten the cooking time. Discard water and rinse.
  3. Bring beans to boil in plenty of fresh water, boil for at least 10 minutes, then simmer until tender.

Canned beans are precooked and can be added to a variety of dishes without additional preparation. Check the label before buying canned beans, some contain a lot of added salt. Canned beans are available that contain no extra salt and are an excellent source. Beans provide fiber, protein, iron, and antioxidants that can make them a healthful addition to the diet. Beans are inexpensive, simple and easy to prepare and healthy.