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12 Delicious Ways to Eat More Beans + How They Shield Your Health

Eat more beans! Delicious, nutritious, disease-fighting AND fast to prepare! Yep, canned beans are all that and more. In honor of National Eat Beans Day (and the other 364 days of the year), I’m sharing 12 things you can do with canned beans or other ready-to-eat beans.

Eat more beans by adding them to a nourish bowl

Anything goes with a nourish bowl. Here, I’ve got whole-grain pasta, leftover salmon, cannellini beans, fresh strawberries, feta cheese, walnuts, leftover roasted vegetables and some fresh lemon.

So why love them? Yeah, I know they have that gas thing going on (See below for help with that). But don’t let that keep you from the glory of beans.

Why You Should Eat More Beans

Beans are a time-saving nutritional powerhouse. They’re inexpensive, versatile and very nutritious. A 1-cup serving packs as much as 15 grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein. They give us folate for healthy DNA, potassium for better blood pressure control and a host of other vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. They also contain resistant starch, which is a type of carbohydrate that resists digestion and does not contribute to blood sugar. So yay for people with prediabetes and diabetes!

Beans shield health. Research suggests that eating beans regularly is good for managing blood cholesterol levels, preventing heart attacks, lowering blood sugar levels, managing type 2 diabetes, fending off some types of cancer, helping to trim waistlines, and beans may even help you celebrate more birthdays! Wow, how’s that for a list? See why I want you to eat more beans – even if they’re not super colorful, chic or exotic.

12 Ways to Eat More Beans

Start by rinsing and draining canned beans to wash away about 40% of the sodium.

  • Toss any rinsed, canned beans into a mixed green salad. Try a different type of bean each week. This week toss chickpeas into your salad. Next week, open a can of kidney beans. After that, try black beans. Store the leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator, so you can enjoy beans from the same can a few times.
  • Liven up any sandwich with a smear of hummus. Use that same hummus as a veggie dip. Or try bean dip.
  • Warm up to a bowl of steamy three-bean chili. Instead of meat, use kidney, pinto and black beans in your favorite recipe. Or combine beef and kidney beans for a meat and bean chili.
  • Grab roasted chickpeas for a snack or sprinkle some on salads, in soup or even on top of your favorite hummus.
  • Fancy up tuna salad with chickpeas and fresh herbs. In the mood for chicken salad? Add cannellini beans and sliced grapes.
  • Add any favorite bean to a nourish bowl of greens, whole grains, roasted vegetables and salmon or chicken.
  • Mix black beans, kidney beans, corn and salsa together with freshly snipped cilantro. Toss with a red wine vinaigrette and enjoy it as a salad or roll it in a whole grain wrap.
  • Fill a whole grain tortilla with red beans, salsa, sautéed onions and peppers and a sprinkling of reduced-fat cheese.
  • Toss chickpeas with diced cucumber, tomatoes, olives, parsley and a Greek-style vinaigrette.
  • Add black beans to a tomato basil sauce and serve over whole-wheat spaghetti.
  • Top tortilla chips with kidney beans and reduced-fat cheddar cheese. Microwave briefly. Then add a dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt, your favorite salsa and some fresh herbs.
  • Thicken chili, stews or soups with smashed white beans. Smash them well, and I promise it will be our secret.

Make a point of finding new recipes. A very popular one on my site is this Mediterranean Chickpea Salad. For cooler weather, give this Turkey Taco Soup a try. My friend and colleague Sharon Palmer, the Plant-Powered Dietitian, has a host of recipes. And you can find quite a variety on the websites of Bush Brothers and other brands.

Eat more beans in a stew

This lemony white bean and kale stew is a favorite when the weather turns cool.

Fight the Gas Crisis

Their reputation for causing gas is well-deserved. You can tone down this problem by gradually adding more beans and other fiber-rich foods to your diet, giving your body time to adjust. Discarding the liquid from canned (or presoaked) beans rids your bowl of some of the hard-to-digest, noxious carbohydrates. You can also try an over-the counter aid like Beano to help digest the offending carbohydrates.

So what are some of your favorite, simple ways to eat more beans? Please share because I’m always looking for great ideas.

Jill Weisenberger

Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, CHWC, FAND, is a Nutrition, Culinary & Diabetes Expert, Wellcoach®-certified health and wellness coach, Freelance Writer, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's also the author of four books, including a best-seller. She's a nationally-recognized media expert in high demand for print and online interviews, as well as corporate and one-on-one nutritional counseling. Jill's philosophy is that nutrition science should be understandable, realistic and oh so delicious.

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Like most of my patients and clients, I lead a busy life. You probably do too. Fortunately, you don’t need weeks, days or even hours to start living better and healthier. This blog offers timesaving strategies and bite-sized nutrition and health information. Come by often for tips and inspiration to healthy living – no matter how busy you are. I am a registered dietitian nutritionist offering credible, practical nutrition advice to keep busy people healthy. Yes indeed, we can be both busy and healthy.

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