High in fibre and a great source of plant protein, beans are good for the body and should form a part of our weekly diet. They can be super tasty too – and we have a great recipe for you to try!
Diets higher in fibre and protein support weight loss as both fibre and protein help you feel satiated – fuller for longer! Because beans are a plant-based source of protein, they don’t have saturated fats that are found in animal protein and are thus better for your heart health too. Here are 5 surprising health benefits of beans:
- Not all protein is equal. While all beans contain protein, only soybeans contain all nine essential amino acids. This is why you’ll find soya in many plant-based foods. The trick here is to mix up the types of beans you eat with other sources of protein to ensure that you’re getting all the required nutrients. One cup of tinned black beans provides 14.5g of protein, 16.6g of fibre and 4.56mg of iron.
- Beans are great for pregnant women. Beans contain high volumes of folate. Folate is one of the B-vitamins and is needed to make red and white blood cells in bone marrow, convert carbohydrates into energy, and produce DNA and RNA. It is essential for the healthy growth of a foetus,
Low folate has also been linked to an increased risk of depression and poor response to antidepressant treatment, so up that intake.
One cup of shelled edamame beans provides 482mcg of folate. Add edamame to salads, stir-fries, curries, soups or mash them to make a yummy dip.
- Including beans regularly in your diet may reduce your risk of cancer. Beans are rich in polyphenols, which are a type of antioxidant. Antioxidants fight the effects of free radicals, which are damaging chemicals that the body produces during metabolism and other processes. Because of this and the fact that studies show beans to act as anti-inflammatory agents, they could help to reduce the risk of cancer.
- Beans help with diabetes (and may even help to prevent it). As mentioned, beans are high in fibre and this can help lower blood glucose levels. Studies show that a high-fibre diet may prevent the onset of Type-2 Diabetes.
- Beans can create better gut health. A variety of beans, especially black beans, enhance gut health by improving the intestinal barrier function and increasing the number of beneficial bacteria. Recent research has shown that a healthy gut means a healthy immune system.
Vegan Bean Cassoulet (stew)
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped
- 2 large carrots, finely chopped
- 2 large celery stalks, finely chopped
- Olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 400g brown mushrooms
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 3 tins white beans, such as cannellini
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- 2-3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- 2-3 fresh bay leaves (or 5 dried bay leaves)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- In a large pot or casserole dish, sauté the onion, carrot and celery in olive oil over medium heat. After 10 minutes, add the garlic and mushrooms. After a further five minutes, add the wine. Keep cooking until the wine has mostly evaporated.
- Add two tins of beans and the stock, then stir in the tomato paste.
- Wrap the thyme and bay leaves together with a piece of string to make a bouquet garni. Add to the pot. Bring everything to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Mash the third tin of beans and add to the dish to help thicken the stew. Simmer for another 30 minutes. If you’re using a large oven-proof dish, pop the cassoulet in the oven for up to an hour.
- Season to taste. Remove the bouquet garni before serving and sprinkle with some extra fresh thyme (optional).
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