They may have a bit of a reputation for making people gassy, but that’s no reason to cut them out of your diet.
In fact, beans are nutritional powerhouses jam-packed with protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals and high level of antioxidants. And even better, they’re a low cost addition to, or star of, a filling meal!
Speaking to Starts at 60, Brisbane-based nutritionist Alessandra Trovato explained that beans’ many varieties – whether they be fava, kidney, soy, chickpeas or lima – can be incorporated into both sweet and savoury dishes.
The powerful nutrients in beans offer many health benefits, she added, including the prevention of heart disease and diabetes.
“Beans contain good amounts of protein, b vitamins, fibre, iron and potassium,” Alessandra explained. In fact, a small serving of beans (1 cup) has been shown to lower cholesterol levels by up to five per cent, which can reduce your risk of heart disease.
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On top of being high in fibre, most beans also score low on the glycemic index (GI) – a ranking of foods based on how they affect blood sugar.
“If you suffer from diabetes, beans are a great food to include in your diet to help control your blood sugar levels,” she said.
Beans such as kidney, garbanzo, pinto, soy and black are considered to have a low GI. “They also promote a steady and slower rise in blood sugar levels which in turn creates a more sustained energetic feeling throughout the day,” Alessandra added.
Beans are also very filling, which means that one serving can keep you feeling full between meals, ultimately boosting weight loss.
While it’s easy to fall in to the same old pattern with beans – boiled with a little oil or butter? Alessandra said they can also be made into a variety of dishes and used as a great substitute for meat. She recommended adding them into pasta sauces, soups and salads, or baking them into delicious desserts: