Remember when I wrote a post about how to cook beans? That post is here. I also talked about how beans are so great for weight control because they contain protein and fiber plus another compound called resistant starch that helps us feel full and not absorb all of the calories in the beans.
The benefits do not stop there. Beans can also protect against colon cancer which is the second leading cancer killer in the United States (1). One of the mechanisms being studied in determining why beans are protective is through the creation of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid, that is produced by microflora in the colon from the nondigestible carbohydrates in beans (2). Butyrate has antineoplastic and anti-inflammatory properties which makes it protective. That is pretty incredible!
To get the full benefits of eating beans, Dr. Fuhrman suggests at least one-half cup per day. This level of consumption can be spread out during the day, although I often just plop that much on my lunch salad. If you feel you can’t eat that many beans due to digestive discomfort, I would suggest starting with a smaller amount and working your way up. Over time, your digestive tract should adjust and allow you to eat more without any problems.
Here are some of my favorites bean recipes!
1. Bean and Vegetable Blended Soups are a fantastic way to increase your bean and vegetable intake. They are delicious and filling and, oh yeah, fight cancer. My latest version uses fresh vegetable juice for added flavor and nutrition. I called it my Beet-Based Blended Soup and the recipe can be found by clicking here:
2. As mentioned, I often put beans on my lunch salads. Mixed with the dressing and other yummy stuff in the salad, they actually taste great this way!
3. Bean burgers are a great alternative to eating beans cold on a salad. Combined with grains or vegetables, they make a nutritious, comforting meal. I usually serve my bean burgers on top of a raw salad. My Beet-y Veggie Burgers (recipe is here) are a good example of how to mix beans and shredded beets into a burger.
4. Blending beans into bean spread, hummus or even a bean-based salad dressing is simple and transforms the texture and flavor of beans. As crazy as it sounds, I have heard of people making dessert hummus, although I have never tried it myself. I often make a simple hummus, though, by just putting chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic and tahini in the food processor.
5. Lastly, I’ve gotten into the habit of water-sauteeing beans with greens like collards or kale and serving it with a cashew cream sauce (click here for a recipe). It’s heavenly and probably one of the healthiest meals I make. It makes great leftovers, too!
Now go eat your beans!
P.S. In case you missed it, I posted a giveaway yesterday for a 2-pound bag of chia seeds. It ends on Thursday so don’t miss your chance to enter here. Good luck!
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Colorectal (Colon) Cancer. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/ on 3/13/12.
2. Lanza, E., et al. High Dry Bean Intake and Reduced Risk of Advanced Colorectal Adenoma Recurrence among Participants in the Polyp Prevention Trial. J Nutr. 2006. 2006 Jjly: 136(7): 1896-1903. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1713264/?tool=pubmed on 3/13/12.