By: Tiffany Eng, M.S., CSUN Dietetic Intern
“Beans, beans the musical fruit. The more you eat, the more you toot!”
The “tooting” maybe why most people try to avoid beans. Consuming beans may produce gas due to the fermentation of specific sugar molecules, called oligosaccharides, in the large intestine.1 While beans may not be the most attractive, this budget-wise food is low in energy density and rich in nutrients.
Beans have a high content of fiber, protein, and iron. With only ½ cup per serving, beans can offer approximately 7 grams of fiber.2 Not only does fiber help with satiety, but it is also associated with lower cholesterol. Beans provide approximately 7 grams of protein per serving size and is used in the USDA MyPlate nutrition guide as a meat alternative. 2 When paired with complementary protein sources such as grains, beans can be a valuable food source for vegetarians. Iron content in beans may vary greatly among the different varieties. However, 1 serving can provide almost 10% of the recommended daily allowance for iron. In addition, beans are a great source of B vitamins such as thiamin, folate, and niacin, which are essential for energy production.
Research studies have shown that people who consume beans regularly may help long-term health and overall diet quality.3 Among these studies, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes risk have shown to be lowered with the consumption of this food. Although there are many benefits, flatulence caused by eating beans may discourage people from incorporating it into their diet. Eating too much initially may cause abdominal discomfort and so it is recommended to start with smaller portions, increasing gradually, and drinking plenty of water.3
Beans can be incorporated in a variety of ways such as into salads, soups, and even baked goods! Try substituting meat with beans in recipes for Meatless Monday such as vegetarian chili or black bean burgers. Below is a recipe by Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN from her website Nutrition Starring You for a delicious Three Bean Avocado Salad with Lime Dressing.4
3 Bean Avocado Salad with Lime Dressing
- 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained- preferably low sodium
- 15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained- preferably low sodium
- 15oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained- preferably low sodium
- 15oz can corn, drained
- 1 cup grape tomatoes (about 20) cut in half
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium avocado, pitted and diced
- Juice of 1 large lime
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup chopped cilantro (or flat leaf parsley)
- Rinse beans in a strainer and let drain well. Add them to a large mixing bowl with corn, diced pepper, and grape tomatoes.
- In a smaller bowl, add lime juice and diced avocado, stirring to coat well to prevent browning.
- Using a spoon, remove the avocado from lime juice and add it to the bean mixture.
- To the remaining lime juice, add oil, garlic, salt and pepper, mix well and pour over the salad folding gently to combine.
- Gently stir in cilantro, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to let the flavors develop.
- Garnish with additional cilantro before serving.
Note: If you don’t like cilantro, substitute flat leaf parsley
If you are hungry and on CSUN campus, drop by the Arbor Grill for their tasty Southwest Salad to reap some of those bean benefits!
- Guimarães VM, Rezende STD, Moreira MA, Barros EGD, Felix CR. Characterization of α-galactosidases from germinating soybean seed and their use for hydrolysis of oligosaccharides. Phytochemistry. 2001;58(1):67-73. doi:10.1016/s0031-9422(01)00165-0.
- Mudryj AN, Yu N, Aukema HM. Nutritional and health benefits of pulses. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 2014;39(11):1197-1204. doi:10.1139/apnm-2013-0557.
- Garden-Robinson J, McNeal K. All About Beans Nutrition, Health Benefits, Preparation and Use in Menus – Publications. All About Beans Nutrition, Health Benefits, Preparation and Use in Menus – Publications. https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/food-nutrition/all-about-beans-nutrition-health-benefits-preparation-and-use-in-menus. Published November 2013. Accessed March 23, 2018.
- Lauren, Haas S, Corina, Liz, Guercia M, Irene. 3 Bean Avocado Salad with Lime Dressing. Nutrition Starring YOU. https://nutritionstarringyou.com/3-bean-avocado-salad-with-lime-dressing/. Published March 21, 2017. Accessed March 23, 2018.