|From the royal
tombs of ancient Egypt to the Old Testament cultivation,
preparation, and consumption of beans are recognized. In
some Eastern cultures, legumes were a basic dietary staple
that can be traced back more than 20,000 years. The lima
and pinto bean were cultivated for the first
time in the very earliest Mexican and Peruvian
civilizations more than 5,000 years ago, being popular in
both the Aztec and Inca cultures.
The United States
is by far the world leader in dry bean production. Each
year, U.S. farmers plant from 1.5 to 1.7 million acres of
edible dry beans. And while Americans are the chief
consumers of these beans, 40 percent are shipped to
international markets in more than 100 different countries
around the globe.
Dried beans or
legumes are an inexpensive and healthy way to include into
your 5 A Day diet. A serving (1/3 cup of cooked beans)
contains around 80 calories, no cholesterol, lots of
complex carbohydrates, and little fat. In addition, beans
are a good source of B vitamins, potassium, and fiber,
which promotes digestive health and relieves constipation.
Eating beans may help prevent colon cancer, and reduce
blood cholesterol (a leading cause of heart disease).
How do beans fit
into your 5 A Day? Beans are often thought of as a side
dish; however, they make excellent meat
free entrees. You don't have to be vegetarian to reap the
benefits of legumes -- start slowly,
eating beans instead of meat twice a week.
eating legumes, there are few things to know:
are not complete proteins
Beans alone are not complete proteins, but combined with a
grain are as complete as a meal.
So it is important to eat beans with grain products like
these dishes that already contain these combinations. For
example beans and rice, a bean burrito, split pea soup and
corn bread, and a peanut butter sandwich.
cause intestinal discomfort
You can minimize this effect by changing the soaking water
several times when you prepare dried beans, or switching
to canned beans. When canned, some of the gas-producing
substances are eliminated. Be sure to rinse the beans well
to wash off excess salt. Another option is BeanoTM,
which contains an enzyme that breaks down gas-producing
substances in the beans.
legumes means, drinking more fluids
As you include more beans into your meals, it's important
to drink adequate fluids and exercise regularly so that
your gastrointestinal system can handle the increased
So, which bean to choose from? There are hundreds of
varieties of beans. Try one of these:
Beans are small, with a vivid red color,
solid flavor and texture. Originally from Asia, its
name means "little bean" in Japanese. Its red coloring
- red being the most important color in Eastern
celebrations - means that it is greatly used in
festive or special meals.
Beans are large and flat with a
greenish-white color. It has a buttery flavor and
creamy texture. This bean is named after Lima, Peru,
and is extremely popular in the Americas, both in its
natural state and dried.
have beautiful pink color and is very popular in the
countries of the Caribbean. Pink beans are of medium
size (similar to the Great Northern and the Pinto) and
have a refined texture and delicate flavor.
Lima Beans come from Peru and are very
popular in the Americas. The baby variety is much
loved in Japan for making desserts from bean paste
known as "an." These are medium-sized flat beans with
a greenish white color, buttery flavor, and creamy
Beans are particularly popular in the
Caribbean region, where they are normally eaten with
rice. Dark red in color, small red beans are also
smoother in taste and texture than the dark red kidney
Kidney Beans are large and kidney-shaped with
a deep glossy red color. They have a solid flavor and
texture. These beans are produced mainly in the
northern U.S.A. and owes its popularity in America and
Europe to its large size, bright color and solid
Beans are sweet tasting with an almost
mushroom-like flavor and soft floury texture. These
beans are medium sized, oval, with a matt black color.
They are the most popular beans in the Costa Rica and
Kidney Beans have a solid texture and flavor.
They are characterized by their large, kidney-shape
with a pink color. This bean is popular in the
Caribbean region as well as in Portugal and Spain for
its similarity to the canela bean.
are small, white and oval with a refined texture and
delicate flavor. These are the beans used for the
famous Boston and English baked beans. Because their
skin and fine texture do not break up on cooking.
These beans were named for their part of the U.S. Navy
diet during the second half of the 19th Century.
Beans are known for their creamy texture with
a flavor similar to chestnuts. Cranberry beans are
rounded with red specks, which disappear on cooking.
These beans are a favorite in northern Italy and
Spain. You can find them fresh in their pods in
Autumn. They also freeze well.
Beans have a scented aroma, creamy texture
and distinctive flavor. These beans are characterized
by their kidney shaped, white skin with a small black
eye and very fine wrinkles. Originally from Africa, it
is one of the most widely dispersed beans in the
world. Black-eyed peas are really a type of pea, which
gives it its distinctive flavor and rapid cooking
potential, with no pre-soaking needed.
Beans are the most widely produced bean in
the United States and is one of the most popular in
the Americas. It also contains the most fiber of all
beans. Characteristically known by their medium size
oval shape, with speckled reddish brown over a pale
pink base and solid texture and flavor.
Northern Beans are a North American bean,
which is popular in France for making cassoulet (a
white bean casserole) and in the whole Mediterranean
where many beans of a similar appearance are
cultivated. These beans have a delicate flavor, thin
skin, and are flat, kidney shaped, medium-sized white
Beans or chickpeas are the most widely
consumed legume in the world. Originating in the
Middle East, they have a firm texture with a flavor
somewhere between chestnuts and walnuts. Garbanzo
beans are usually pale yellow in color. In India there
are red, black, and brown chickpeas.