Firstly, beans are a good source of several different types of antioxidants. We usually think of brightly colored fruits and vegetables as our antioxidant sources, but beans can fight those free radicals too. Just the outer skin of the black bean contains three different antioxidant compounds!
Secondly, beans are a great source of fiber. One cup of pinto beans contains 15 grams, half of your recommended daily amount. Beans contain a solid amount of soluble fiber, a particular type of fiber that has been shown to reduce cholesterol.
Beans are also a good source of a whole host of vitamins and minerals including iron, magnesium, and folate. These three nutrients in particular are sparse in a standard diet.
In order to get all these great nutrients from beans you’ve got to cook them first. If beans are cooked improperly you can end up feeling bloated later. Here are some preparation tips so you can enjoy your legumes without the gas!
- Soak dried beans in water for 6-8 hours, then rinse. If I’m planning on making beans for dinner I’ll leave myself a note to put them in water in the morning (because otherwise I’ll forget). This softens up the tough hull of the bean.
- Add a piece of kombu seaweed to your cooking water, available in the international foods section. Compounds in the seaweed act as a tenderizer.
- Before you simmer your beans, bring them to a boil and scoop off the foam that rises to the top. The foam contains certain carbohydrates that can make you gassy.
- Simmer your beans until you can easily smoosh one between your fingers. Make sure that outer hull is softened!
- Lastly drink plenty of water during and after meals. Beans are part of a healthy diet that contains a lot of fiber. Fiber aids in digestion, but it needs water to do its magic.