The inexpensive legume family, which includes beans, peas, peanuts and lentils, has priceless benefits.
- Legumes are rich in folic acid, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc and antioxidants.
- Their high protein and complex carbohydrates provide steady energy that lasts for hours.
- They are especially high in soluble fiber, and a daily serving of cooked beans may lower blood cholesterol by as much as 18 percent, decreasing the risk of heart disease.
- Most legumes also contain protease inhibitors, compounds thought to suppress cancer cells and slow tumor growth.
- And then there are the prebiotics in beans, substances that aid in beneficial bacteria growth in the intestine.
- All legumes, and especially soy, are important in vegetarian diets for their high protein content.
But best of all, beans taste great. Dried beans have a superior taste and texture but they take longer to cook. Canned beans offer a quick alternative and most of the same health benefits. Rinse canned beans with water before cooking and you’ll remove as much as 40 percent of the sodium used in processing.