Beans are a plant food from the Fabaceae family, the same family as peas and legumes. Along with being famous for their flatulence-formulating effects, beans have the distinction of being an incredibly healthy food!

First, beans have the distinction of being a great vegetarian and vegan protein source that is lower in calories and fat than dairy or nuts. Half a cup usually contains only around 100 calories and seven grams of protein, the same amount as would be found in one ounce of chicken, meat or fish.

Only soybeans contain a "complete" vegetarian protein, or one that contains all 9 essential amino acids, but pairing other kinds of beans with grains and other vegetarian proteins throughout the day should be able to get you what you need. Soybeans in particular also support the healthy functioning of pancreatic cells.

Though beans contain a few more carbs than animal proteins, beans have the benefit of having no cholesterol, very little fat, and no saturated fat at all. Studies have thus associated frequent consumption of beans with a reduced risk of heart disease, which makes it fitting that in other countries beans are sometimes called "pulses!"

Beans are also rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber, which is what gives them their gassy reputation. This makes them a good alternative to other fiber-rich but higher calorie foods like grains, and it means that they can help stabilize your blood sugar levels, make you feel fuller, and prevent constipation.

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Getting enough fiber is critical for the prevention of colon cancer, and beans can help reduce the risk of other cancers as well due to their high concentrations of antioxidants, isoflavones and phytosterols.

Beans are also high in micronutrients like zinc, magnesium, copper, and potassium. Additionally, though all beans are high in folate, dried beans contain nearly double the folate content than canned ones.

Though beans are also high in iron, is more difficult for your body to absorb this iron than the iron found in meat. However, you can help make the iron in your beans more bio-available by pairing them with foods high in Vitamin C, for example lemon juice and tomato in the recipes below.

Since different beans have higher concentrations of different micro-nutrients, you can get maximum bean benefits by frequently switching out your bean choices or by eating a mixed-bean meal.

Black beans have the most soluble fiber, fava beans and lentils are rich in the fat-burning amino acids arginine and glutamine, and a compound in adzuki beans has been shown to reduce fatty liver.

Research has also found that a group of dieters whose menu incorporated lots of beans lost weight faster and ended up with an improved waist to hip ratios compared to a group that ate less of them. Experts recommend consuming up to 3 cups of beans a week!

A balanced diet should ideally contain both beans and animal proteins, which have plenty of their own health benefits and fat-burning effects. However, replacing meat with beans in your favorite dish a few times a week is a great choice for your health, and it might help your body recover more quickly from a lifetime of unhealthy food choices if you struggle with risk factors for heart disease.

Experimenting with beans is also good for the environment, since beans are a much more sustainable protein source than meats. Additionally, beans are much less expensive than meat, so it would be a great move for your wallet!

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A good middle ground might be a phase 2 meal that contains both animal proteins and beans, such as pizza that contains both beef and lentil powder or the egg-and-bean recipes below.

One pitfall of beans is their high anti-nutrient content, but their potentially harmful effect can be greatly reduced by cooking. Some people may also experience excessive gas and other gastrointestinal problems after eating beans, but you can reduce these symptoms by soaking your beans before eating them, increasing your water intake, or even trying an over the counter medication like Beano.

You also have to be wary of added sugar in dishes like baked beans, so the first recipe below is a healthy substitute for the common barbecue indulgence. You'll also get to try a refreshing egg and bean salad and a 123-friendly version of the traditional Mediterranean dish shakshuka! Only the first of these recipes is vegan, but all three should be perfectly suitable for vegetarians! We owe these creative dishes to the wonderful folks in our Phase 2 Support Group.

Happy beaning!

123 Diet Baked Beans


Ingredients

  • 400g diced tomatoes
  • 420 g cannelini beans
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • Garlic to taste
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp Bragg's
  • Mixed herbs to taste

Directions

Fry onion and garlic until onion is soft. Add tomatoes, apple cider vinegar and Bragg’s and cook until soft. Add drained cannellini beans  and some mixed herbs and simmer for approximately 10 minutes stirring. Makes approximately 2 servings of protein.

Sautéed Egg And Bean Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 50g mixed beans
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup lettuce
  • 1 cup cucumber

Directions

Boil egg for 6 minutes. Sauté half a small onion in oil, then add mixed beans. Add a pinch of black pepper, chili powder, and salt. Add lemon juice, then continue to sauté till beans are at desired softness. Chop up lettuce and cucumber. Dice the remaining half onion and mix together. Layer sautéed beans on top of the salad, then finish off with the egg.

123Diet Shakshuka


Ingredients

  • 1/2 onion
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup veg stock
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 100 grams beans of your choice
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp cheese of your choice

Cook onion and tomato up with garlic and spices and simmer with stock. Once the mixture is a thick saucy texture, add beans to mix. Cook a little longer and divide into two dishes. Place an egg in the middle of each dish, top with a tbsp of cheese, and chuck in the oven till the egg is cooked the way you like it! Makes 2 meals.

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