They often get a bad rap for causing indigestion and flatulence, but the health benefits of beans (and other legumes, such as lentils and chickpeas) make them a stellar choice in a healthful diet. Beans are:
1. An excellent source of vegetarian protein, providing six to seven grams per ½ cup serving.
2. High in folic acid, which may help to protect against cancers of the lung, colon, and cervix, and prevent birth defects.
3. A great source of fiber, dishing up 25-30% of the Daily Value of dietary fiber, 75% of which is insoluble - the type that reduces the risk of colon cancer.
4. A low-glycemic-index food, making them a good option for diabetics.
In addition, most varieties are inexpensive and versatile. I recommend 1-2 servings of beans and legumes per day - easy to do if you swap out meat for beans in salads and sandwiches, and make hummus or bean dip part of an afternoon snack. And if stomach upset is a concern, you can improve the quality and digestibility of beans by consuming them with grains such as brown rice, which provide a complimentary protein profile. Discarding the soaking and cooking water when using dry beans may also help reduce flatulence.
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