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Beauty and the Beans
Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, LDN

Eating beans can help you slim down , fight heart disease and high blood pressure, live longer, and are in vogue . Who Knew?

1) The Facts :

At mealtime, fiber-rich beans can help curb your appetite by helping you feel fuller sooner so you'll eat less. Beans can also replace higher calorie meats and cheeses in entrees. Trimming calories daily can help trim your waistline.

  • Replacing a ½ cup of beans for the same amount of cheddar cheese on your lunchtime salad will reduce the calories by half.
  • Replacing part of the ground beef in a chili recipe with black beans will cut over 225 calories from the entrée.

Take Home Message : Eat Beans and Slim Down .

2) The Facts :

A ½ cup of cooked beans provides 10% or more of the Daily Value for potassium and magnesium, nutrients that can help lower blood pressure. The soluble fiber in beans can help lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol in the body. Both high blood pressure and blood cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease – the number one cause of death of Americans. It's no wonder that the Dietary Guidelines recommend that Americans enjoy 3 cups of legumes, such as beans, weekly .

The protein-rich food group in MyPyramid is called, the “Meat & Bean Group”:

Take Home Message : Eat Beans to Help Fight Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure

3) The Facts :

Research suggests that folks that follow a Mediterranean-style diet, which is rich in plant foods including legumes (dried beans and peas) actually live longer. Another study of older adults showed that consuming approximately 1/8 cup of legumes daily was associated with about a 7 percent reduction in the risk of dying.

Take Home Message : Eat Beans as Part of a Healthy Diet to Live Healthier and Longer.

4) The Facts :

Consumer-based research is suggesting that comfort food, fresh ingredients, and authentic Mediterranean cuisine, which often includes legumes, will be front and center on restaurants menus in 2009. Luckily, Mediterranean and bean dishes can easily and inexpensively be duplicated in the cozy confines of the American kitchen.

Take Home Message : Comfort foods, and Mediterranean and bean cuisines are in! Beans are affordable, easy-to-use, nutrient-rich, and can stretch the food dollar.

The BIG Take Home Message: Add more beans to your diet by :

  • Tossing beans with pasta and vegetables with this Pasta Bean Toss recipe.