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Why Beans Should Be on Your Menu More

By Sandy Schroeder

Beans may legitimately be considered a superfood. They can expand the menu, humor the budget, and keep us healthy. They can also help us lose weight and keep it off since they qualify as a vegetable and protein. At the same time, they deliver lots of healthy nutrients including iron, magnesium, folate, potassium and zinc.

What This Does for Your Health

Consumer Reports Food Sense spotlighted the benefits. Eating beans four times per week reduced heart disease risk by 22 percent, according to one study. Another one showed bean eaters were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes and tended to have better blood sugar control overall. Beans also contain a fiber that increases the amount of good bacteria in the gut to help control inflammation, and lower colon cancer risk.

What It Does to Cholesterol

Beans have a lot of soluble fiber that can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol by as much as 5 percent, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Cooked beans contain 0.6 to 2.4 grams of soluble fiber in each half cup.

How They Help Us Shed Weight

Researchers say beans help people lose weight because they create a sense of fullness and help control blood sugar levels. A survey of some 20 studies found people who ate 2.5 to 9 ounces of beans daily lost three-quarters of a pound more over a six-week period than the ones who ate no beans.

Make Them Menu Stars

Serve a different bean in a healthy recipe every day of the week.

Monday - Navy bean soup. Dried navy beans become a satisfying winter meal when you cook them with a ham hock, and add chopped onions and tomatoes. Just add rolls and a salad.

Tuesday - Garbanzo or white beans blended into a smooth hummus dip punctuated with garlic and olive oil, can be served with pita chips to start a meal or serve as a healthy snack.

Wednesday - Serve black bean tacos or burritos on whole wheat or corn tortillas with onions, spicy peppers and shredded cheese.

Thursday - Three-bean salad goes together quickly with a can of green beans, one can of yellow wax beans, and another of kidney beans, marinated with a sweet and sour salad dressing or olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Serve it with your favorite fish and a side of whipped potatoes.

Friday - Lima beans play a featured role in a huge pot of hearty chicken vegetable soup that may also include green beans, onions, carrots, tomatoes and chopped green peppers. Serve with hot breads and a salad.

Use canned or dried beans. Rinse canned beans to get rid of extra salt or buy low-sodium versions. Dried beans need to be soaked before cooking, and take about an hour on the stove.

Check for recipe specifics to make these bean dishes happen at your house. Enjoy.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Colorado Springs, Colo.

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