Foods A-Z: Beans

Beans come from the Fabaceae family and are sisters to legumes, peas, and beans. And they’re a cheap source of protein, fiber, iron, and vitamins with many health advantages. Interestingly, several beans sprout from blossoms in the form of pods or capsules.

Pinto, Kidney, Soybeans, Red Beans, and Navy Beans are all varieties of beans. Beans have evolved into one of the world’s most essential crops from their humble beginnings as a wild vine in America. Since you can cook them in various ways, they’re a staple in many traditional recipes worldwide.

What Are the Culinary Uses of Beans?

Whether dried, fresh, or canned, there are countless ways to use them to prepare mouth-watering dishes. You can use them in different salads, which goes well with a thick bread slice. 

Since they have soft innards, beans are ideal for making dips for crudité platters. Asian sweets like Chinese red bean buns and Japanese daifuku mochi can be stuffed with mashed or puréed red beans.

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What Are the Different Varieties of Beans?

Beans are one of the most widespread and versatile foods with diverse varieties. While some might share similar textures, there might be a difference in taste and vice versa. As a result, a few types are more popular than their counterparts. 

So, what variety of beans should you use? That depends on the recipe you want to prepare and the other health benefits attached.

Here are the most common varieties:

  • Black beans: These are popular additions to Brazilian and Mexican dishes and are famous for their mild flavor and creamy texture. Black beans have a lower glycemic index which reduces the increase in blood sugar level after eating. They are great in soups, casseroles, and tacos.
  • Cannellini beans: Also called Italian kidney beans, they hold their shape well after you cook them and are perfect for making fritters. 
  • Kidney Beans: These are popular for their red skin and mild flavor that makes an excellent addition to chili. Kidney beans have high protein levels, healthy fatty acids, and cancer-fighting antioxidants.
  • Fava beans: These have a buttery texture and a sweet, nutty flavor. As a result, they’re delicious on salads, mashed into dips and spreads, or grilled with asparagus.
  • Navy beans: Haricot, white pea bean, Boston bean, and pearl haricot beans are all names for this bean. They have a creamy texture and a mild flavor, and, like Great Northern Beans, they absorb the flavors around them well.

Interesting Facts About Beans

  • One of the first plants cultivated by people in the world
  • There are over 4,000 varieties
  • Hyacinth bean is a common ornamental
  • The largest bean grows up to 5 feet long
  • January 6th is National Bean Day
  • Bean Soup is one of the U.S Senate’s best restaurant menu
  • Public officials were elected by beans in ancient Greece
  • In Nicaragua, newlyweds receive a bowl of beans for good luck

Iron: A cup of soybeans has almost 9 milligrams of iron, an essential nutrient for hormones and connective tissues.

Magnesium: Black beans contain 120 milligrams of magnesium in a single cup. This is one-third of the recommended daily amount. 

Potassium: Lima beans have 1,000 milligrams of potassium in a cup. Your daily intake is around 3,500 milligrams.

Zinc: A cup of garbanzo beans has about 2,4 milligrams which is a quarter of what you need daily.

Folate: In just one cup of pinto beans, you get 300 micrograms which are three-quarters of your daily intake.

What Are the Health Benefits of Eating Beans?

Beans have a lot of fibers. This is significant because fiber keeps you regular and protects you against heart disease, high blood pressure, and digestive problems. Beans are also excellent sources of low-fat, low-calorie protein.

You’re more likely to have less body weight, a thinner waist, and a lower BMI if you eat beans regularly. Eating a variety of beans prevents diabetes and controls high blood sugar, which causes the disease. The B vitamin found in beans is beneficial for pregnant women because it prevents some birth abnormalities.