Home » The healthiest beans and legumes, according to dietitians

The healthiest beans and legumes, according to dietitians

by Today

Beans, which are technically legumes, are an excellent source of plant-based protein and fiber. They’re also packed with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients the body needs.

It’s no surprise that beans and other legumes are commonly eaten all over the world and a staple food of many cuisines. Beans are cheap and versatile, lending themselves to a variety of delicious dishes.

Walking through the bean section of the grocery store you’ll find countless cans and bags of beans in different colors, shapes and sizes to suit your culinary needs. It’s only natural to wonder about which ones are packing the most health benefits.

What are beans?

Beans are the edible seeds from a legume plant — which means all beans are legumes but not all legumes are beans, Julia Zumpano, registered dietitian with the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition, tells TODAY.com.

Legume is an umbrella category that includes beans, pulses and peanuts. Pulses are the dried seeds from a legume plant, says Zumpano. These include lentils, peas or dried beans. Fresh beans that are still in their pods, such as green beans, are also legumes.

Health benefits of beans

Beans are an excellent source of protein, amino acids and fiber. “Most varieties offering eight grams of protein per a one-half cup,” Frances Largeman-Roth, a registered dietitian nutritionist, tells TODAY.com.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture considers beans and legumes part of both the “vegetable” food group and “protein foods” group, along with meat and fish.

Beans are classified as a fiber-rich food, also called prebiotics, which feed the good bacteria in the gut and support the microbiome and immune function, says Zumpano. Beans also contain complex carbohydrates, which provide the body with energy and help with blood sugar control.

“They are also naturally low-fat. In fact, they have no saturated fat (and) no cholesterol,” says Zumpano, adding that beans and legumes are good for heart health.


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