Eat This: Beans and Legumes: the Good, the Bad, the Lies.

Photo by R Khalil on

Truth be told, I should need to write this. Or need for me to take a continuing education course on legumes. Yes, a course on beans. A course on beans becomes necessary when too many healthnuts are raging and warning me (and others), you guessed it, not to eat beans.

Why is this small but mighty seed such a controversy? For some it’s taste. Others, they just aren’t literally meaty enough. For many, its a misunderstanding of what makes a bean.

What’s in a bean?

A bean is part of a group called legumes. Legumes are seeds that grow in pods like peas and edamame/soy, lentils, and more. It’s a nutrient dense food that is for everyone and definitely not for anyone. Check out in the good, the bad, and the lies about beans.

The Good

It’s a nutrient dense food which means it is loaded with what you need. Beans and legumes are low in cholesterol and fat. They are also high in fiber and contain a good amount of protein. For some this form of protein could be easier to digest but do keep reading for more information on this. Due to it’s high fiber nature, beans and legumes can help regulate blood sugar, help the heart, and support your gut. Beans with rice are an amazing amino acid source. It’s an all around friend in your food relationship.

Other nutrients beans/legumes have to offer you:

  • Potassium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • B Vitamins
  • Copper
  • Vitamin K

The Bad

Beans could be difficult to digest for some. Oligosaccharides, a carbohydrate, is broken down in the large intestine. This process could cause gas. Oligosaccharides are the good guys as they work with cells and may boost your immune system. The good news is with beans, cooking can help break some of this down for you. Soaking beans with a teaspoon of baking soda to four quarts of water (rinse and drain before cooking) is a sworn hack for some. I would suggest eating with starches (not fried) or grains. Maybe holding off on onions and peppers if you tend to experience gas. Before ever making beans a definite no, talk with a nutritionist or dietitian.

Photo by Noelle Otto on

The Lies

So here’s where we truly get caught up- the lies about beans. Let’s address two big lies.

  1. Beans block iron.
    • Most beans contribute to your iron levels. That’s it.
  2. Toxic Lectins
    • Lectins are found in plants AND animals. You’re body doesn’t need them. And yes beans and legumes have them. So it’s partly true not to eat beans because of lectins. BUT once you cook them, you significantly reduce lectins in beans and legumes to a healthy level. Lesson here is to EAT BEANS or LEGUMES RAW nd COOK THEM. And eat normal servings. Balance is everything. It’s a scare tactic and a lie not to eat beans.

There you have it. It’s simple. Beans are good for many, but not for all. It’s ultimately up to you, your needs, and your palate. Beans are eaten worldwide for good reason. It’s a cost effective and nutrient dense food. One of my staples once I learned how to cook it the way I liked it. If you aren’t convinced just yet, then read more reasons Why You Should Eat Legumes . It’s a long list that keeps growing. Always check with a doc and a nutritionist if you have dietary and health concerns. I do know as a certified nutritionist and foodie, food relationships are rarely simple. But we can work with foods and them with us. Beans included.

Published by JRiley

Certified holistic nutritionist, reiki master, and yogi who hates kale and loves tacos.

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