Beans have always been hailed as meat substitutes for their abundant nutrition values and dietary guidelines have tripled the recommended intake from 1 to 3 cups per week. But there is always this one question that lingers in each of our minds: Are beans vegetables or proteins?
The surprising answer here is that beans are both, vegetables and proteins! The five major food groups include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins and dairy, and beans have been included officially in both, vegetables and protein food groups. Being an excellent source of plant protein, they are packed with other nutrients such as zinc and iron which makes them an indispensable part of the protein family. These also contain many of the same nutrients as found in meat (protein group) and are typically placed in the same category as meat. Beans are comparable to meat when it comes to calories but contain ample fiber (one cup of cooked beans provides 12 grams of fiber) which is not available in the meat you eat. Hence, meat is digested quickly and you feel hungry more quickly. Whereas, beans keep you full and to top it all, with decreased saturated fats.
These are also considered to be a part of the vegetable food group as they contain ample dietary fiber and water content, two ingredients that make you feel fuller faster along with other nutrients such as folate and potassium. Adding beans to our diet helps in reducing calorie intake without feeling deprived of food. These are also high in antioxidants, similar to many other vegetables, and attack the cell-damaging free radicals. The interaction between free radicals and antioxidants is elaborated in the website www.firsteatright.com.
If you want to eat beans, try to choose anything between the red kidney beans, small red beans and pinto beans to acquire maximum nutrition. Don’t worry to which food group beans belong to. Whichever group they fit into, they are sure to provide your body with ample health benefits. Just grab a bowl and fill it with any beans of your choice to enjoy the advantages of this healthy food.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.