Beans have been an essential part of human diets for longer than we can remember. Enjoyed by many around the world for centuries, many types of beans are excellent sources of the nutrients our bodies need to grow and repair muscles while building strong immunity to fight germs and diseases.
Beans provide the protein, iron, magnesium, zinc, and other micronutrients your body needs to kickstart the production of essential tissues when revamping bone, blood, hair, and skin.
Why You Should Eat More Beans
Beans, lentils, and other legumes hold significant dietary value in modern cuisines.
The US Dietary Guidelines issued by the Beans Institute recommends eating about 3 cups of legumes, including beans, per week or half a cup daily. Although high in carbs, beans are rich in fiber and low in calories, making them weight-loss friendly, according to a report by Healthline.
Heart health and diabetes control are benefits you can get from eating beans. Studies by the National Institute of Health have found that beans lower your Low-Density of Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, a bad type of cholesterol that can lead to heart problems.
While beans have immense health benefits, some types of beans have specific merits that give them nutritional benefits over others, and knowing what type of beans offer desired nutritional values can help meet your dietary needs while improving your overall wellness.
Popular Types of Beans
According to Ontario Bean Growers, over 400 types of beans are grown worldwide, making it one of the most versatile staple foods. But many varieties of beans are consumed locally and do not reach Western societies.
Here are the most popular types of beans and how they can contribute to your daily dietary needs.
Kidney beans have a shape resembling a human kidney and are native to Central and South America. Often vibrant and reddish in color, kidney beans can be found in many American dishes, such as chili con carne, and are sometimes paired with rice.
According to Livestrong, the white patch on the bean houses abundant vitamins and minerals making them great for kidney and heart health. Kidney beans are also suitable for weight management due to their low-calorie, high-fiber nutritional makeup.
A culinary delight originating from the Americas, black beans, also known as turtle beans, teem with bountiful flavors that make hearty soups, stews, salads, and burritos.
Black beans are reportedly great for weight control and are an excellent source of fiber and protein, and are rich in powerful antioxidants. In a WebMD report, black beans aid the body in caloric processing that may contribute to digestive health and blood sugar regulations.
Popular in Mexican cuisine, Pinto beans are a tasty bean variety with a beige and brown appearance. Its creamy shell and flavorful texture can easily identify the Pinto bean. Although smaller than many types of beans, the Pinto is a nutrient powerhouse offering abundant wellness benefits.
Kaempferol, an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial flavonoid found in Pinto beans, is medically known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases like stroke. Additionally, it is rich in vitamin B folate, which can help mitigate congenital disabilities during pregnancy.
One of Italy’s finest staples, Cannellini beans, also known as white kidney beans, possesses a delicate and creamy flavor that makes them a restaurant favorite. They are used in popular recipes such as pasta e fagioli, minestrone, ham and beans, and many other Italian favorites.
Super-packed in dietary fiber and plenty of protein, Cannellini beans are a rich source of calcium and iron, which support bone health and help regulate blood pressure and arterial circulation.
Renowned for their nutty taste, Garbanzo beans are a prominent middle eastern legume popular in Mediterranean, Israeli, Greek and Indian cuisines. Commonly known as chickpeas, Garbanzo beans merge seamlessly with hummus, falafel, curries, soups, and salads.
Garbanzo beans are a rich source of plant-based protein and dietary fiber that benefits your digestive health.
Butter beans, also known as lima beans, have a diverse cultural background and are native to South and Central America. In Southern cooking, butter beans are often featured in comforting dishes such as succotash, combined with corn, tomatoes, and other vegetables. They are also commonly used in stews, soups, and casseroles, adding a buttery flavor and a satisfying texture to these hearty meals.
Butter beans offer significant nutritional benefits. They are an excellent source of protein and are high in dietary fiber, promoting healthy digestion and supporting heart health.
Urad Beans are widely used in Indian cuisine and hold great cultural significance. They are a staple ingredient in popular dishes like dal makhani, a creamy lentil curry, and idli, a traditional South Indian steamed rice cake. These beans are also commonly used to make various types of lentil soups, stews, and curries, adding a rich and earthy flavor to the dishes.
According to Science Direct, Urad beans, also known as black lentils, are an unrivaled protein source among popular beans due to their abundant dietary constituent. Urad beans are also super-packed in carbohydrates, lipids, calcium, and iron.
Fava beans, also known as broad beans, have a rich history and are believed to have originated in the Mediterranean region. Fava beans are widely used in Mediterranean cooking, where they are featured in dishes like ful medames, a popular Egyptian breakfast dish, and fava bean puree, a traditional Greek meze. They are also commonly added to salads, soups, and stews, bringing a distinct nutty flavor and a creamy texture to these culinary creations.
Fava beans have incredible nutritional benefits as an excellent source of soluble fiber, folate, copper, manganese, and flavonoids.
Native to the warm lands of India and widely consumed throughout Asia, Mungo beans, also known as green beans, are small, green beans with a mild earthy and nutty flavor commonly used in purees, soups, curries, and desserts.
Mungo beans are packed with essential amino acids and other nutrients that reduce the risk of blood pressure, bad cholesterol, and heart diseases.
Navy beans, also known as haricot beans or pea beans, have a rich history and are native to North America. These small, white beans derive their name from their association with the US Navy, as they were a staple in the sailors’ diets during the 19th century.
They are popularly used in dishes like baked beans and are enjoyed for their creamy texture. Additionally, navy beans are commonly used in soups and stews, adding a creamy texture and mild flavor to these culinary creations.
Navy beans are a rich dietary fiber source, providing soluble and insoluble fiber that aids digestion and weight management. They also offer plant-based protein and essential minerals like iron, potassium, and magnesium, contributing to overall health and well-being.
Adzuki beans are similar to Mungo beans in shared earthy and nutty flavor. Available in a range of colors, red adzuki beans are the most common variants. An East Asian famous culinary delight, chefs in Korea and Japan take advantage of the Azulki’s sweet taste to create red bean paste, a key ingredient in traditional Asian desserts.
Adzuki beans have a strong nutrient profile and provide several health benefits, including weight loss and improved digestion. Research suggests that adzuki beans can improve the wellness of gut health.
An essential component of Italian soups and Mediterranean cuisines, cranberry beans provide dishes with a soft, rich texture complimentary to many soups and sauces. Although the bean shares a name with the cranberry plant, which is used in producing tasty juice, the staple crop has no relatable semblance with the cranberry plant.
The Cranberry bean’s creamy texture and flavor come to life when cooked, but the nutrient profile of this legume makes it a choice staple. Cranberry beans are packed with healthy antioxidants and thiamin, which help our body convert food into energy.
A decent source of carbohydrates and fat, soybeans are integral to Asian diets and have been consumed for many centuries. Soybeans are used in many dishes, such as tofu, tempeh, and miso soups.
Soybeans are excellent alternatives to animal protein and other dairy products. Soybeans are notable for their isoflavones, compounds with potent antioxidant properties, and their high stash of protein, including all essential amino acids, makes them the perfect protein source, especially for vegan diets.
Harnessing The Power of Beans
There are many different types of beans offering an array of flavors, textures, and nutritional benefits. Each variety brings unique characteristics, from the creamy and versatile navy beans to the rich and nutty fava beans. Whether enjoyed in traditional dishes or incorporated into modern recipes, beans offer a powerhouse of nutrients, including protein, fiber, and essential minerals.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.