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Why Winter is the Perfect Time to Try New Beans

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Beans are part of the legume family and are consumed throughout the world. Since they are most commonly used in soups and stews, winter is a great time to start incorporating them into your diet. Here are some reasons why.

1. They are a nutritional powerhouse.

Beans are a great source of lean protein and fiber. A cooked, ¾ cup serving of beans would contain on average 150-175 calories, 0-3 grams fat, 10-15 grams fiber and 11-13 grams protein.

They also contain many minerals such as:

  • Potassium – 1 serving of dried beans contains as much potassium as a banana.
  • Folate – 1 serving of kidney beans contains 9X as much folate as the same amount of wheat.
  • Iron – 1 serving of black beans contains more iron than a 3-ounce serving of flank steak.

2. They reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Beans have been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular issues (like hypertension)
  • Obesity

This health benefits are attributed to beans low calorie content, high mineral content and high fiber content.

It is recommended that the average American adult consume 25-30 grams of fiber per day. However, it is estimated that most Americans do not even consume half that amount. Fiber is digested slowly, which helps regulate blood glucose levels and helps keep you feeling fuller longer.

3. They are versatile.

Adding beans to your diet can be simple because they are versatile and pair very easily with a variety of cuisines. I like that beans can be used in place with meat or alongside it. My favorite ways to incorporate beans in my diet are:

  • Chili and tacos – I often use both beans and meat, but you can also reduce the meat and replace it with extra beans.
  • Toppings for salads – Roasted chickpeas can provide a great extra crunch.
  • Bulking up pasta sauces – A can of white cannellini beans is a quick addition to spaghetti sauce for a weeknight dinner.
  • Puree for hummus or other dips.
  • Used in baked goods such as black bean brownies.

4. They are cost-effective and sustainable.

Another important benefit is their affordability and sustainability. Dried beans can be as low as a few cents per serving and most bean plants are drought tolerant and have a low carbon footprint.

Dried beans do take some time to soak. However, canned beans are a quick and convenient alternative. The only significant nutritional difference between canned and dried beans is their sodium content. Canned beans are high in sodium. Most canned bean brands now offer low sodium options. Rinsing the canned beans before use can reduce the sodium content by 40%.

Time to get cooking!

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 1.5-3 cups of beans, peas or lentils per week. So, find some delicious recipes and get cooking!

If want guidance with your diet, the team of registered dietitians at Aspirus St. Luke's Clinical Nutrition is ready to help you be the healthiest version of yourself. A referral is required for this service. Learn more at or call 218.249.5231.

This article was originally featured in the Duluth News Tribune.