collection of beans, legumes, peas, lentils on wooden spoonsI’ve got beans on the brain. I’ve been thinking about them a lot because—like everyone else—I’m trying to cut back on expenses. But even in the best of financial times, beans are nearly always on my menu. I love and adore them. Here is what’s so great about beans:

  • They are central to all kinds of exotic and exciting world cuisine, so beans lend themselves to fun recipes.
  • They are gorgeous! Lentils and black beans may not be all that exciting, but look around for some of the “boutique beans” like Christmas limas, Calypsos, and Black Valentines. They are kitchen art!
  • They’re plant foods, so of course, eating more beans (and, therefore, less meat) is good for the environment. But beans are even better than other plant foods. They require less water than crops like wheat and corn, and they add nitrogen back to the soil.
  • The carbs in beans are the best kind—lots of fiber and resistant starch. That translates to better control of blood glucose, lower cholesterol, better digestive health, and possibly lower risk for cancer.
  • Replacing meat in your meals with beans will automatically boost your fiber intake and will lower saturated fat intake—great protection against heart disease.
  • Beans are packed with potassium—a mineral that falls short in many American diets.
  • Beans are antioxidant superstars. They are higher in antioxidants than many fruits and vegetables and are on a par with blueberries and strawberries.