If you are trying to eat healthier while sticking to a grocery budget, beans are an excellent food to add to your shopping list. Beans provide a plant-based source of natural protein, fiber, iron, and antioxidants while also being versatile and affordable. However, there are many different types of beans to choose from, and you might like some types more than others in recipes or on their own.
Here’s a review of common types of beans and how to get more beans in your daily diet.
Cannellini beans are white/cream-colored beans that are common and easy to find in grocery stores. They can be cooked and mashed or added whole to soups and Italian dishes.
Black beans are a healthy choice because they have a low glycemic index, which can reduce blood sugar spikes after meals. They are common in Mexican cuisine and easy to add to soups, salads, and tacos.
With a dark red color, kidney beans are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and protein. They are a common ingredient in chili recipes and are often mixed with rice.
Also known as chickpeas, garbanzo beans are round, firm, and have a nutty flavor. They are common in Mediterranean and Indian cuisines and are the primary ingredient used to make hummus. You can snack on them plain and add them to salads to get a dose of protein and fiber.
Great Northern Beans
These beans are white in color but softer than cannellini beans. They have a good amount of calcium and are great to use in purees because of their light texture.
Lima beans come in two forms: the larger, buttery type and the sweeter, smaller ones. They are a good source of potassium and work well as a stand-alone side dish or in soups.
Pinto means “painted” in Spanish, and these beans have a painted look to them with their orange/pink coloration. These beans are earthy and smooth while packed with fiber and protein. You can use them to make refried beans and dips.
Navy beans are mild and creamy, and they are the beans commonly used to make baked bean dishes. They are a good source of fiber and taste great when seasoned with garlic and herbs.
These beans are a staple in southern cuisine and have an earthy flavor. They are a good source of folate, which is a crucial nutrient for women’s bodies during pregnancy.
Lentils are a type of bean and among the healthiest ones you can find. They come in different colors and contain a healthy mix of protein, carbs, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and fiber. Lentils are commonly used to make soup, curry dishes, and salads.
How to Eat More Beans
It is a good idea to start introducing more beans into your diet gradually to reduce the risk of stomach discomfort and gas. Over time, your body will get used to the extra fiber it’s getting from beans and adapt to digesting them easier. You can also soak beans before cooking them to remove extra sugars and carbs that can cause digestion trouble.
Eating beans every day is a very healthy habit to get into for better gut health and a steady dose of essential nutrients. Beans are simple to prepare for an easy, stand-alone side dish or main course with herbs and spices sprinkled on top. But you can also incorporate beans into many different recipes to mix things up and explore different flavor combinations.
Here are some examples of dishes that feature beans to try for yourself:
- Black bean veggie burgers
- Black bean breakfast bowls
- Black-eyed pea salsa
- Kale and cannellini bean soup
- Mediterranean garbanzo bean hummus
- Coconut chili curry with garbanzo beans
- Homemade kidney bean chili
- Lima bean soup
- Lentil and spinach tabouli salad