The Magic Bean: The Key to a Healthy Heart and Wallet

Did your friends in elementary school ever sing this little chant when confronted with beans on their lunch tray? "Beans, beans are good for your heart. The more you eat the more you fart !" Beans reach beyond their reputation when it comes to health!

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Did your friends in elementary school ever sing this little chant when confronted with beans on their lunch tray?  “Beans, beans are good for your heart. The more you eat the more you . . . !” Well, in the interest of keeping this article in good taste, I will let you fill in the last word. Let me help you out by telling you the missing word rhymes with “heart.”

Anyway, beans are good for your heart and yes; they sometimes cause you to pass wind.  Beans are also great for weight loss and overall health.

They are one of those foods you really should be eating whether you are a vegan, a vegetarian, or a flexitarian. For a long time, I only ate beans when they were mashed up and fried in a refried bean dish at my favorite Mexican restaurant or in baked beans loaded with bacon. While tasty, those beans did not do much for me nutritionally nor did they help with my struggle against obesity.

You can understand why those bean dishes did not help me lose weight when I tell you that a restaurant-sized serving of refried beans has about 350 calories and 10 grams of fat and loaded baked beans has 231 calories in 1 cup.

Of course, it did not help that I was eating a lot of other high-calorie foods with those bean dishes.

I rediscovered beans during a time in my life where I did not have much money and needed to lose 150 pounds. My husband and I had recently had our third child and were trying desperately to make ends meet.

Personally, I had reached the point where I was fed up with weighing 300 pounds and was finally ready to make a permanent lifestyle change.

Beans were a lot cheaper than meat and relatively low in calories so I began experimenting with different bean recipes. And, because I am a good mom, I taught my 7-year-old the bean chant. She loved it and has taught it to her six younger siblings.

Because I like to learn about new things, I did some research on beans. (That way you don’t have to!) I found out some interesting tidbits that made me a life-long believer in beans.

1. Beans are high in fiber. A cup of cooked beans has over 10 g.

2. They are versatile.

3. A 1/2 cup of beans has about 100 calories.

4. Most beans are excellent sources of Omega-3 fatty acids.

5. They are a good source of protein with one cup giving you about 14 g.

6. Cooked beans freeze beautifully.

7. Beans are low on glycemic index, meaning they are good for your blood sugar.

8. Contain B vitamins, calcium, potassium, and folate.

9. Beans have just 1 g of fat per serving.

10. They are filling, which helps you eat less food.

Now, of course, eating beans did not magically make me wake up 150 pounds lighter and they will not magically make you lose weight either. Sad, I know. But, they are a great food to add to your diet.

Some of my favorite ways to use beans are in my terrific minestrone soup, stuffed into whole wheat tortillas that I make myself, or mashed and made into hummus. I also add cooked garbanzo beans or kidney beans to green salads.

Oh, and by the way, it is super simple buy dried beans and cook them yourself. You can soften them overnight and cook them in your slow cooker while you are at work.  They are much cheaper when you buy them dried and keep for a long time.

Some people I talk to about weight loss are afraid of adding beans to their diet because they are high in carbohydrates. (ie: 40 g of carbohydrates per 1 cup of black beans.) I encourage you to not be fearful of the carbohydrates in beans because they are the good kind of carb. They are complex carbohydrates, which your body needs no matter what type of diet you follow.

We have beans at least twice a week and I save money, keep my weight at a healthy number, improve my family’s nutrition, and enjoy experimenting with new ways to prepare these little food gems.

Try adding beans to your weekly meal plan for a few weeks and see what happens.

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