Beans: Nature’s Perfect Food

By Carol Fenster, Ph.D.

You can’t beat beans for a food that’s almost perfect: low in fat and sodium, but high in fiber and protein. In fact, 1 cup of beans contains 13 grams of fiber, nearly half of what most of us need per day. (Most adults need between 25 and 38 grams of fiber daily). Eating beans has many benefits, such as a lower risk of obesity and a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some forms of cancer. This may surprise you, but darker beans such as red, pinto, and kidney beans have even more anthocyanins than blueberries and cranberries which are often touted as the highest sources.

Pulses and the Gluten-free Diet

I think beans are perfect for the gluten-free diet because they bring important nutrients to a diet that can sometimes be low in important nutrients if we rely on processed foods too much. Beans contain lots of calcium, potassium, and magnesium—key nutrients that many of us, especially women, don’t get enough of. Plus, I like the flavor of beans. Different varieties have slightly different nuances, but their earthy flavor reminds me that I’m putting lots of good things into my body when I eat them. And, they are so versatile that you can use beans in both cooking and baking.

Shelley Case and I love beans so much that we co-authored a booklet called Pulses in the Gluten-Free Diet. It was commission by Pulse Canada, an organization in Canada that promotes pulses—-what we call dry beans, peas, and legumes in the United States. The booklet contains recipes for a wide variety of dishes including main dishes, sides, soups, breads, and desserts. We show you how to use both bean flour and pureed beans in cooking and baking. For example, you’ll find a delectable Chocolate Cake with black bean puree in it as well as biscuits made with white bean flour. You won’t detect the beans, but they’re there making your life healthier. The booklet is free, so download it at: See Carol’s Super-Simple White Bean Soup

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