Beans are a good source of protein.

Include beans in your daily meals for balanced nutrition.

Beans or legumes, are one of the oldest cultivated plants and contain many important nutrients and phytochemicals. When combined with grains, they form a complete protein.For the most part, beans are considered an incomplete protein (not containing all the essential amino acids) and are recommended to be combined with another complimentary protein.

For instance, to make a complete protein they can be combined with brown rice, corn, nuts, seeds or wheat. According to the National Soybean Research Laboratory, soybeans are the only common plant food containing complete protein, so this is the only exception. Beans are a protective food that can help you feel full of energy and enjoy many health benefits. Beans can be bought frozen, dry or canned. Although, dry is always best, we do however, understand that sometimes this is not an option. Therefore, choosing low sodium or sodium free canned beans or frozen beans, is still a great option to enjoy these benefits.

Eating healthy should be fun and taste good. A half-cup or more of beans or lentils are what the guidelines usually recommend and can easily be done by adding them into almost any dish. Consuming at least a half-cup of dry beans has been shown to improve the overall diet quality of Americans, by increasing fiber, protein, folate, zinc, iron and magnesium by lowering intakes of saturated fat and total fat. Beans can be prepared and included many ways. For instance, beans can be added into rice, soups, salads, and even made into a delicious party dip.

Bean benefits include the following:

1)      Good source of folate, which plays an important role in human reproduction and reducing birth defects.

2)      High in dietary fiber and low glycemic index and load. It is good for our digestive tract and may reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer.

3)      No cholesterol, saturated fat and lower in calories than animal protein.

4)      Cheaper than animal protein, a good substitute!

5)      Contain antioxidants, which are protective against free radicals, inflammation and oxidation.

Overall, Michigan State University Extension says that including beans in your diet can help improve your overall health. This inexpensive food can provide the protein you need while increasing vitamin and mineral consumption. As mentioned, beans are easy to prepare and can be added in almost any dish. Trying new recipes from other cultures can also help you explore these benefits. For instance, consuming soybeans from Asian dishes, Garbanzo beans from Middle Eastern dishes or pinto or black beans from Latin American dishes. All of these ways can aid you in living healthy but also enjoying good food!

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