More than just a meat substitute, beans are so nutritious that the latest dietary guidelines recommend we triple our current intake from 1 to 3 cups per week. What makes beans so good for us? Here’s what the experts have to say:

Chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease all have something in common. Being overweight increases your chances of developing them and makes your prognosis worse if you do, says Mark Brick, PhD — which means that trimming your waistline does more for you than make your pants look better. Brick, a professor in the department of soil and crop sciences at Colorado State University, is investigating the ability of different bean varieties to prevent cancer and diabetes.

Beans are comparable to meat when it comes to calories, says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, a registered dietitian at Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Wellness Institute in Chicago and a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. But they really shine in terms of fiber and water content, two ingredients that make you feel fuller, faster. Adding beans to your diet helps cut calories without feeling deprived.

Our diets tend to be seriously skimpy when it comes to fiber (the average American consumes just 15 grams daily), to the detriment of both our hearts and our waistlines. One cup of cooked beans (or two-thirds of a can) provides about 12 grams of fiber — nearly half the recommended daily dose of 21 to 25 grams per day for adult women (30 to 38 grams for adult men). Meat, on the other hand, contains no fiber at all.

This difference in fiber content means that meat is digested fairly quickly, Brick says, whereas beans are digested slowly, keeping you satisfied longer. Plus, beans are low in sugar, which prevents insulin in the bloodstream from spiking and causing hunger. When you substitute beans for meat in your diet, you get the added bonus of a decrease in saturated fat, says Blatner.

Still not convinced? In a recent study, bean eaters weighed, on average, 7 pounds less and had slimmer waists than their bean-avoiding counterparts — yet they consumed 199 calories more per day if they were adults and an incredible 335 calories more if they were teenagers.


Beans and pulses in your diet

Eat well

Cooking and storing pulses safely

Typically, pulses are bought either tinned or dried. Tinned pulses have already been soaked and cooked, so you only need to heat them up or add them straight to salads if you’re using them cold.

Dried pulses need to be soaked and cooked before they can be eaten.

Dried kidney beans and soya beans contain toxins, so it’s important to ensure they have been cooked properly before you eat them.

Cooking times vary depending on the type of pulse and how old they are, so follow a recipe or the instructions on the packet.

Cooking kidney beans safely

Kidney beans contain a natural toxin called lectin. This can cause stomach aches and vomiting. The toxin is destroyed by proper cooking.

Tinned kidney beans have already been cooked, so you can use them straight away.

When using dried kidney beans, follow these 3 steps to destroy the toxins:

  • soak the dried beans in water for at least 12 hours
  • drain and rinse the beans, then cover them with fresh water
  • boil them vigorously for at least 10 minutes, then simmer the beans for around 45 to 60 minutes to make them tender

Cooking soya beans safely

Soya beans contain a natural toxin called a trypsin inhibitor. This can stop you digesting food properly. The toxin is destroyed by proper cooking.

Tinned soya beans have already been cooked, so you can use them straight away.

When using dried soya beans, follow these 3 steps to destroy the toxins:

  • soak the dried beans in water for at least 12 hours
  • drain and rinse the beans, then cover them with fresh water
  • boil them vigorously for 1 hour, then simmer the beans for about 2 to 3 hours to make them tender

Storing cooked pulses

If you cook pulses and you aren’t going to eat them immediately, cool them as quickly as possible and then put them in the fridge or freeze them.

As with all cooked foods, don’t leave cooked pulses at room temperature for more than an hour or two because this allows bacteria to multiply.

If you keep cooked pulses in the fridge, eat them within 2 days. It should be safe to keep pulses frozen for a long time, as long as they stay frozen.

But keeping food frozen for too long can affect its taste and texture. Follow the freezer manufacturer’s instructions on how long types of food can be kept frozen.

Find out more about how to store food safely

Protein comes from plant sources as well as animal sources.
In fact, every plant we eat has at least a little bit of protein in it, and some have a lot—like beans, also called legumes! Beans have some health benefits that animal sources don’t.
Beans are high in minerals and fiber without the saturated fat found in some animal proteins.

Eating beans as part of a heart healthy diet and lifestyle may help improve your blood cholesterol, a leading cause of heart disease. Adding beans to your diet may help keep you feeling full longer.

Drain canned beans in a colander and rinse with water to remove some of the excess salt; or buy canned beans with no salt added if they have them at your store. Or, you can make your own salt-free beans from scratch.

There are lots of easy ways to add beans to your meals and reap the healthy benefits of the lovely legume.

  • Famously, the English eat beans on toast, and beans and rice is an everyday dish in many of the world’s cuisines.
  • Tuck beans into whole-grain tortillas or pita bread.
  • Add them to soups, salads, and pasta dishes.
  • Toss beans into sautéed veggies or mix them with cooked greens and garlic.
  • Make homemade hummus or bean dip to spread on sandwiches or dip with whole-grain crackers or veggie sticks.
  • There are many to choose from—black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, pinto, cannelloni, lima, mung and navy beans—as well as some exciting heirloom varieties that are now available again.

    How do protein-rich beans and other legumes promote weight loss?

    Among the large list of food items that aid in weight loss, you must have across certain magical remedies that are purported to be really helpful for shedding those extra kilos. When we talk about such foods, the most underrated ones that come to mind must be beans and other legumes. From the family of plants called Fabaceae, these fruits and seeds have been found to be really nutritious and healthy. Primarily eaten in many cuisines and cultures for their fiber content, the many beans and legumes are rich sources of protein too. Therefore, they contribute to a daily diet which is high in protein.
    As most of us know that proteins are of utmost importance for good health. It would be an added bonus to more protein as the protein-rich diets have been found to contribute for weight loss. So, you can include a variety of beans and other legumes like chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, soybeans, peanuts, and pulses in your meal portions to lose weight.

    Here is how protein-rich beans and other legumes promote weight loss:
    A diet of beans and other legumes keep you satiated for long
    According to certain studies, it has been found out that beans and legumes are more satiating than the meat preparations. In this way, these low-fat and protein-rich food items would help you stay fuller for long and curb your cravings. By incorporating beans and legumes in your regular meals, you will avoid processed snacks for in-between meal hungers and avoid unnecessary weight gain.
    Beans and other legumes promote burning of fats and calories
    High-protein food items like beans and legumes can contribute to your weight loss goals by burning fats and calories. They contain such nutrients and amino acids that can promote lesser consumption of calories and fats too. Also, the fibre component of beans helps you feel full sooner without the extra calories. This way, consumption of beans and legumes can promote weight loss.
    Beans and legumes lead to faster weight loss
    Evidence gathered through certain studies suggest that those who consumed 3 cups of beans and other legumes per week lost a lot of weight. Another study suggested that those who ate four servings of legumes a day on a calorie-restricted diet lost more weight than the non-legume eaters.
    Read Also:belly fat
    It has been found that a variety of beans and other legumes like black beans, kidney beans, etc. have been beneficial in shedding belly fat. Regular consumption of these high-protein foods can direct the fat away from the waistline. Alongside that, their consumption have been found to be helpful in regulating blood sugar and insulin levels. These are further indicators of how beans and other legumes can promote weight loss.
    Fibre component of beans and legumes rivals a low-carb diet
    Generally, a diet which is low in carbohydrates is suggested for weight loss. But recent evidences have suggested that the high-fibre and high-protein component of beans and other legumes can lead to better results in weight loss than a low-carb diet. Also, the beans and other legumes also can reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol, thereby providing heart health.

    Legumes: A quick and easy switch to improve your diet

    Beans, peas, and peanuts are high in protein but lower in saturated fat than red meat.

    Published: December, 2018

    Image: © monticelllo/Getty Images

    Looking for a quick way to improve your diet? Try swapping some of your regular servings of red meat with legumes.

    “People will ask me, is red meat bad for me? And my answer is, compared to what? Compared to sugar, no. Compared to legumes, yes. That’s where I think legumes come in. They are especially beneficial if they can replace red meat,” says Dr. Meir Stampfer, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

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    Legumes For Effective Weight Loss

    Legumes can cause weight loss because they are a good source of protein, fibre and micronutrients.

    Legumes, also called pulses, are a family of plants grown for their seeds. Legumes include peas, lentils and beans. Legumes are interesting because they have useful weight loss properties. For example, researchers added tinned baked beans in tomato sauce to the normal diet of diabetic subjects to see if it improved blood sugar control. The results showed that blood sugar control was improved. However, amazingly the subjects lost weight without any other other dietary changes.

    Refined Carbohydrates Cause Weight Gain

    Refined carbohydrates are produced when starchy plant material is stripped of its fibre and micronutrients. When eaten this type of carbohydrate is devoid of the minerals required for correct metabolism of the starch. The absence of minerals such as chromium gradually causes insulin resistance and this leads to weight gain. The absence of fibre exacerbates the problem as it causes the liver to be overloaded with nutrients, contributing to fatty liver and belly fat.

    Legumes Are Slowly Absorbed

    One of the reasons that legumes may cause weight loss is because they improve blood sugar control. Legumes help control blood sugar because they are digested relatively slowly. Adding beans to a mixed meal also slows the digestion rate of the other foods. Legumes are digested slowly because the cells in the legumes have tough cell walls. Human enzymes cannot penetrate these cells and so the starch contained within is only slowly released following chewing.

    Legumes are High Protein Foods

    Legumes are relatively high in protein and this may explain some of their weight loss effects. Protein contributes to weight loss because it has the ability to increase satiety. This results from a slowing of the passage of food from the stomach. More food in the stomach for longer causes a feeling of fullness, which inhibits appetite. The slow digestion of protein also contributes to the blood sugar lowering effects of legumes caused by their fibre.

    Beans, Beans, Beans

    If you are trying to lose weight and are not already eating legumes, you should try to incorporate them into your diet. Frozen beans are an excellent source of nutrition because freezing maintains the nutrient content of the plant material. Adding beans with no other dietary changes will improve health and could cause weight loss. Eating beans as part of a high quality diet should be effective at causing weight loss long term without the need to restrict calories.


    My other blog

    The Ultimate Bean Guide: 15 Types of Beans—and How to Cook With Them

    No matter where you are in the world, beans are a staple for any home cook. Not only does their mild flavor complement an assortment of seasoning and spices, but beans are full of health benefits as well.

    Image zoom Photo by Getty Images

    Beans: Things to Know

    Beans are classified as a legume, along with peas, peanuts, and lentils. They are the seeds of flowering plants in the Fabacea family. Beans typically grow in pods with more than one bean inside. They are rich in fiber and B vitamins, helping to reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels. They also serve as a source of protein, making a great substitute for meat. Not to mention- they’re cheap!

    All this is to say-adding beans to your diet is a good choice. Beans come in both canned and dry forms. Canned beans are great time-savers since the beans come fully cooked and just require some reheating. However, beans can lose flavor in the canning process, so some prefer to buy them dry and give them a good soak overnight. But with so many different types of beans, where do you begin? We’ve got you covered. Read on for a list of different types of beans and how to cook with them.

    Read More: How to Cook with Beans

    Black Beans

    Black beans are a staple in many Mexican and Brazilian dishes. They have a velvety-smooth texture and mild flavor. They also have a lower glycemic index than many other high-carb foods, helping to reduce the spike in blood sugar that occurs after eating a meal. Add them to salads, soups, casseroles, or tacos for added protein. They also make a healthy substitute for meat or even flour!

    Image zoom Photo by Getty Images

    Popular Black Bean Recipes:

    • Homemade Black Bean Veggie Burgers
    • Black Bean Breakfast Bowl
    • Black Bean Brownies
    • More Black Bean Recipes

    Black-Eyed Peas

    This Southern staple has a beige hue with an eye-catching black spot, hence the name “black-eyed peas.” They have an earthy flavor that complements salty foods like ham and bacon. Southerners swear by eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck in the coming year. They are an excellent source of folate, which is an important nutrient for pregnant women. Simmer them in chicken broth (and toss a ham bone in there if you have one) for tender and plump beans. Add your favorite seasoning and even some greens for the perfect side dish!

    Image zoom Photo by Getty Images

    Popular Black-Eyed Peas Recipes:

    • Spicy Bean Salsa
    • Dave’s Georgia Black Eyed Peas
    • New Year Black Eyed Peas
    • More Black-Eyed Peas Recipes

    Cannellini Beans

    Also known as white Italian kidney beans, these cream-colored beans are one of the most common types of beans. They are a popular addition to soups, salads, and many Italian dishes. They hold their shape well and can be cooked lightly or mashed to make delicious fritters.

    Image zoom Photo by Getty Images

    Popular Cannellini Bean Recipes:

    • Vegetarian Kale Soup
    • Pasta Fagioli
    • Chef John’s Quick Cassoulet
    • More Cannellini Bean Recipes

    Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)

    Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, come in two varieties: the larger Kabuli is common throughout the Mediterranean, and the smaller desi is mostly grown in India. You’re probably familiar with them because they’re used to make hummus. They have a round shape and a firm texture, making them a great salad topping. Their nutty flavor makes them perfect for snacking too. Just toss dry chickpeas with a little olive oil, salt, and spices before sticking them in the oven. Not only are they one of the most versatile beans, but they’re packed with fiber and protein.

    Image zoom Photo by Getty Images

    Popular Chickpea Recipes:

    • Roasted Chickpeas
    • Coconut Çurry Chili
    • Mediterranean Zucchini and Chickpea Salad
    • More Chickpea Recipes

    Great Northern Beans

    This is another type of white bean that is often mistaken for cannellini or navy beans. Greater Northern beans are less dense and have more of a nutty flavor than their bean brethren. They’re ideal for use in soups, stews, or purees because of their light texture and ability to absorb seasonings easily. Not to mention they’re packed full of calcium!

    Image zoom Photo by Getty Images

    Popular Great Northern Bean Recipes:

    • Italian Sausage Soup
    • Creamy White Chili
    • Vegan Black Bean Quesadillas
    • More Great Northern Bean Recipes

    Kidney Beans

    These beans are known for their vibrant red skin and white interior. They have a mild flavor, and make the perfect addition to any chili recipe. Fun fact: kidney beans have about the same amount of cancer-fighting antioxidants as blueberries. They’re also packed with protein, heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and iron. There really are endless options when it comes to cooking kidney beans: add them to rice, tacos, curry, or mash them to make a creamy dip-just to name a few.

    Image zoom Photo by Getty Images

    Popular Kidney Bean Recipes:

    • Debdoozie’s Blue Ribbon Chili
    • Slow Cooker Taco Soup
    • Bean Relish
    • More Kidney Bean Recipes

    Lima Beans

    These beans get a bad rap, but there’s actually so much to love when it comes to lima beans. They can be white, creamy, or green in color. There are two types: the larger, butter (also called Fordhook) beans, and the sweeter baby lima beans. They have mild, buttery flavor and a soft texture that can turn to mush if cooked too long. They are a great addition to any soup or they can stand alone as a side dish. They’re packed with nutrients, and have more potassium than kidney beans.

    Image zoom Photo by Getty Images

    Popular Lima Bean Recipes:

    • Calico Beans
    • Luscious Lima Bean Soup
    • Easy Lima Beans
    • More Lima Bean Recipes

    Pinto Beans

    Pinto beans have an orange-pink color with rust-colored specks. Pinto actually means “painted in Spanish. They’re loaded with fiber and protein too. Their earthy flavor and smooth texture makes them great for dips and stews, or of course, refried beans.

    Image zoom Photo by Getty Images

    Popular Pinto Bean Recipes:

    • Refried Beans Without the Refry
    • Vegetarian Tortilla Stew
    • Best-Ever Texas Caviar
    • More Pinto Bean Recipes

    Fava Beans

    Fava beans, or broad beans, can be difficult to work with. They require that you remove them from their pods and then blanch them in order to get the skins off. But don’t let that keep you from enjoying them. They have a sweet, nutty flavor and a buttery texture. They’re perfect for topping salads, mashing for dips and spreads, or charred alongside asparagus.

    Image zoom Photo by Getty Images

    Popular Fava Bean Recipes:

    • Jamaican Oxtail with Broad Beans
    • Fava Bean Breakfast Spread
    • Green Risotto with Fava Beans
    • More Fava Bean Recipes

    Navy Beans

    This bean goes by many names: haricot, pearl haricot beans, white pea bean, and Boston bean. They have a mild flavor and creamy texture, and similar to Great Northern Beans, they do a great job of absorbing the flavors around them. They’re commonly used to make baked beans, or in traditional English breakfasts. They are also high in fiber, and may help reduce symptoms of metabolic syndrome due to their high fiber content. Try seasoning them with bay leaves, garlic, and fresh herbs.

    Image zoom Photo by Getty Images

    Popular Navy Bean Recipes:

    • Boston Baked Beans
    • No Fail Bean Pie Recipe
    • Bean Soup

    Adzuki Beans

    These small, round red beans are commonly mashed into a red bean paste and used in Asian sweets like cakes, pastries, and even ice cream (see below)! These beans have a sweet flavor and a starchy interior. They can also be used for more savory applications such as alongside rice or leafy greens. Like other legumes, they’re protein-packed and high in fiber.

    Image zoom Photo by Getty Images

    Popular Adzuki Bean Recipe:

    • Kale and Adzuki Beans
    • Vegetarian Kofta Kabobs
    • Adzuki Ice Cream


    Edamame are young soybeans which are usually eaten while still inside the pod. These beans are soft and edible, unlike mature soybeans. These make a tasty appetizer, snack, or salad topping that is loaded with protein. Whether you buy fresh or frozen edamame, they can be boiled, steamed, microwaved, baked, or pan-seared to perfection. Just finish them off with a sprinkle of sea salt, red pepper flakes, and sesame seeds. Yum!

    Image zoom Photo by Getty Images

    VIDEO: Crispy Edamame

    “Green soybeans (edamame) are baked under a Parmesan cheese crust, turning a frozen food into a delicious snack,” — Sophia Candrasa. Watch the video to learn how to make this simple snack!

    Popular Edamame Recipes:

    • Super Summer Kale Salad
    • Cilantro Edamame Hummus
    • More Edamame Recipes

    Mung Beans

    These beans are one of the most consumed types in the world. They are small, round, and green with a white stripe going through them. They have a mild flavor and a starchy texture. They are another plant-based source of protein that is high in antioxidants and fiber. They come in many forms: dried powder, whole uncooked beans, split beans, bean noodles, and sprouted seeds. They’re good for use in soups, and their high fiber content makes them very filling. They can also be mashed and made into fritters for a healthy snack.

    Image zoom Photo by Getty Images

    Popular Mung Bean Recipes:

    • Beef Pho
    • Mongo Guisado
    • Millet Mung Bean Main Dish


    While edamame is the green, raw form of this bean, soybeans are dried and beige in color. Edamame is harvested while the beans are still young and soft, while soybeans are more mature. Soybeans have many uses, including soybean paste, tofu, and soy flour. But these versatile beans can be enjoyed on their own as well! Simply boil the soybeans and add spices and herbs to taste for a yummy, nutrient-packed soybean salad. Or try adding them to quinoa for added texture.

    Image zoom Photo by Getty Images

    Popular Soybean Recipes:

    • Multigrain Muffins
    • Tofu Stir-Fry with Peanut Sauce
    • More Soybean Recipes

    Cranberry Beans

    Rounding out the list are these striking cream-colored beans with red speckles. Also known as borlotti beans, cranberry beans have a creamy texture and a nutty flavor. They are often used in Italian dishes such as minestrone soup. Use them in warm foods such as stews or cold foods such as bean salads. They can also be used in place of other bean types for chili, baked beans, and pasta fagioli.

    Image zoom Photo by Getty Images

    VIDEO: Utica Greens and Beans

    The original Utica greens do not have beans but they are such a classic combination,” says Chef John of this twist on a classic dish. Cranberry beans are the secret ingredient here!

    Popular Cranberry Bean Recipes:

    • Chef John’s Minestrone Soup
    • Bacon and Cranberry Bean Ragout

    Browse our entire collection of Bean Recipes.

    • This post contains affiliate links. Read more here.
    • Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.

    Maybe. It depends on the bean. Many are nutritious for your dog in small servings, but not all are safe to eat—see the complete list below.

    Though beans can be a great source of fiber and protein, and some varieties contain beneficial vitamins and minerals, they shouldn’t be used as a replacement for animal protein. Nor should they be served in large quantities (they make dogs and humans gassy!). Most importantly, be sure you know which beans are safe for your dog to eat.

    Fresh, frozen, or dehydrated green beans are a healthy snack option for dogs, and go great in our turkey meatball treats.

    Healthy Beans for Dogs

    • Black beans
    • Butter beans, or lima beans
    • Chickpeas
    • Green beans, or string beans
    • Kidney beans
    • Pinto beans
    • Lentils

    Beans to Avoid

    • Fava beans, or broad beans
    • Baked beans
    • Refried beans
    • Canned beans

    Tips for Serving Beans Safely

    The best way to serve beans to dogs is to soak dried beans overnight, then cook them plain.

    While canned beans can be high in sodium, rinsing them in running water for 2 minutes can eliminate over 40% of the sodium present in the brine, making this an okay option for people and dogs.

    You can occasionally find beans in the freezer aisle too, just check the sodium levels and do soak and rinse.

    Raw beans can be dangerous to dogs so always cook dry beans before serving.

    Green bean chips for dogs or healthy treats baked with garbanzo beans are two easy ways to feed your dog beans without the hassle.

    Many grain-free dog treats use healthy legumes like chickpeas for additional protein.

    For More Information

    We offer a number of articles on which foods are safe or unsafe for your dog to eat, from breads and grains to meats and beverages.

    Below is a quick summary of the Pritikin Diet. For all the details, scroll down to the section entitled “Food Choices For a Lifetime Of Good Health.”

    The Pritikin Diet focuses on a wide variety of whole (unprocessed) or minimally processed foods. Click on the “GO” tab for these foods.

    “CAUTION” and “STOP” foods on the Pritikin Diet are those that have been proven to increase the risk of obesity and/or multiple health concerns, including high blood cholesterol, high blood sugar, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and some cancers.

    Go FoodsCaution FoodsStop Foods

    “GO” Foods on the Pritikin Diet include:

    • Fruits
    • Vegetables
    • Whole Grains like whole-wheat bread, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and oatmeal
    • Starchy Vegetables like potatoes, corn, and yams
    • Legumes such as beans (like black beans, pinto beans, and garbanzo beans); peas; and lentils
    • Lean Calcium-Rich Foods such as nonfat dairy milk, nonfat yogurt, and fortified soymilk
    • Fish (a rich source of omega-3-fatty acids)
    • Lean Sources of Protein (very low in saturated fat) such as skinless white poultry; lean red meat like bison and venison; and plant sources of protein, such as legumes and soy-based foods like tofu and edamame (soybeans)

    The Pritikin Diet focuses on a wide variety of whole (unprocessed) or minimally processed foods.

    “CAUTION” (less is better) foods include:

    • Oils
    • Refined Sweeteners such as sugar, corn syrup, and honey
    • Salt
    • Refined Grains such as white bread, white pasta, and white rice

    “CAUTION” foods on the Pritikin Diet are those that have been proven to increase the risk of obesity and/or multiple health concerns, including high blood cholesterol, high blood sugar, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and some cancers.

    “STOP” (none is optimal) foods include:

    • Saturated-Fat-Rich Foods such as butter; tropical oils like coconut oil; fatty meats; and dairy foods like cheese, cream, and whole/low-fat milk
    • Organ Meats
    • Processed Meats such as hot dogs, bacon, and bologna
    • Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oils
    • Cholesterol-Rich Foods like egg yolks

    “STOP” foods on the Pritikin Diet are those that have been proven to substantially increase the risk of obesity and/or multiple health concerns, including high blood cholesterol, high blood sugar, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and some cancers.

    Food Choices For a Lifetime Of Good Health

    GO | Recommended Foods

    Some Greek yogurts are healthy and weight-reducing, and some aren’t. Pritikin recommends only the healthiest varieties.

    Unrefined Complex Carbohydrates

    Limit refined grains (like white bread, white rice, and white pasta) as much as possible. But keep in mind that “white” does not necessarily mean “unhealthy.” There are many healthy foods that are white, such as cauliflower, white potatoes, jicama, and nonfat yogurt.


    5 (preferably more) servings daily. A serving is 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked. Enjoy a variety of colors, like dark green, yellow, red, and orange vegetables. The more vegetables and other low-calorie-dense foods you eat, the less need there is for counting calories. You’ll just naturally eat fewer calories, and shed excess weight.


    4 or more servings of whole fruits daily. For most fruits, a serving fits in your hand. Examples include all fresh and raw fruits, and frozen and canned fruits without added sugar. Enjoy whole fruit, not fruit juices. And don’t believe silly science that says fruit is fattening. To the contrary! People have shed 100 pounds and more with Pritikin’s fruit-rich diet.

    Dairy and/or Dairy Substitutes

    2 servings daily of dairy foods and/or dairy substitutes.

    For dairy foods, choose from nonfat milk (1 cup), nonfat yogurt (3/4 cup), and nonfat varieties of ricotta and cottage cheese (1/2 cup). Choose plain nonfat milk, not flavored varieties like chocolate. Nonfat Lactaid is also acceptable.

    For dairy milk substitutes, choose those that closely match the nutritional richness of nonfat cow’s milk for calcium, vitamins D and B-12, and protein. Optimal choices tend to be fortified soymilks (original or unsweetened). Almond and rice milks usually score well for calcium, D, and B-12, but poorly for protein. So if you drink a cup of almond or rice milk, add to your daily diet a lean, protein-rich food like 1/2 cup cooked legumes (beans) or 2 egg whites. Steer clear of coconut milk because it contains saturated fat.

    For all dairy milk substitutes, make sure they contain very little or no added sugars, sodium, and saturated fat.

    Note: Many plant foods are rich sources of calcium, such as leafy greens like collard greens, turnip greens and kale, as well as tofu and tempeh.

    Protein-Rich Foods

    Pritikin, one of the healthiest diets on earth, includes protein from both animal and plant sources.

    • Protein-Rich Animal Foods:

      Fish, White Poultry, Lean Meat

      No more than 1 serving per day. A serving is about 3½ to 4 ounces cooked (the size of a deck of cards).

      Below are fish/poultry/meat choices rated from “Best” to “Poor”:

      • Best: Omega-3-rich fish (such as salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, and trout). Choose at least 2 times weekly. If you’re using canned fish, such as canned sardines, select very-low-sodium or no-salt-added varieties.
      • Good: Most other fish, plus shelled mollusks (clams, oysters, mussels, scallops).
      • Satisfactory: Crustaceans (shrimp, crab, lobster),
        Poultry (white meat, skinless),
        Game meat (bison, venison, elk), optimally free-range and grass-fed.
      • Poor: Red meat (beef, pork, veal, lamb, goat). For all red meat choices, select cuts that are under 30% fat.

      For optimal heart-health results, limit “Satisfactory” choices to no more than 1 serving per week and “Poor” choices to no more than 1 serving per month.

      Egg whites

      Up to 2 daily. If you prefer egg whites instead of other land-based animal foods like white poultry and lean meat, you may eat more. About 7 egg whites is the protein equivalent of 1 serving of poultry or meat. Steer clear of egg yolks and their high dietary cholesterol.

    • Protein-Rich Plant Foods:

      Legumes like beans, peas, and lentils
      Soy products like tofu and edamame

      For maximum cholesterol reduction and giving yourself the best chance at reversing atherosclerosis (heart disease), choose on most days protein-rich plant foods like beans instead of land-based animal foods like poultry and meat. And yes, you can get plenty of protein with a plant-based diet.

    Hassle-Free Meals Delivered to Your Door

    Delectable meals crafted according to the Pritikin Program. Now available for delivery to your home or office! Wholesome & hassle-free meals are just a click away.

    GO | Miscellaneous Foods
    Plus Weight-Loss Tips

    The healthiest diets on earth often include a bounty of fresh herbs in addition to whole, fiber-rich foods.


    Water (plain, bottled, low-sodium, mineral); hot grain beverages (coffee substitutes); non-medicinal herbal teas (such as peppermint, rosehips, and chamomile); and cocoa – up to 2 tablespoons per day (use non-alkali processed cocoa). You do not have to drink large amounts of water daily. Simply drink when thirsty.

    Caffeinated Beverages

    If you choose to drink caffeinated beverages, we recommend green or black tea over coffee because of tea’s many health benefits. We also recommend moderation: no more than 400 mg of caffeine daily (the amount in about 4 eight-ounce cups of coffee or 8 eight-ounce cups of tea).

    Coffee, both regular and decaf, does contain chemicals (diterpenes) that may modestly raise LDL cholesterol. However, by brewing with paper filters like paper cones or capsule filters like Keurig, the diterpenes are largely eliminated.

    Alcoholic Beverages

    Use in moderation or not at all. For women, up to 4 drinks per week, with no more than 1/2 to 1 drink per day. For men, up to 7 drinks per week, with no more than 1 to 2 drinks per day. A drink is approximately 5 oz of wine, 12 oz of beer, or 1½ oz of 80 proof liquor. Choose red wine over white wine, wine over beer, and either over liquor.


    Culinary herbs are rich sources of many beneficial phytonutrients, and are a good way to add flavor without extra calories, fat, or salt. Include at least 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried herbs or 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh herbs each day.

    Artificial Sweeteners

    While artificial sweeteners have not been proven to aid weight loss, they may be of benefit to people with diabetes, elevated triglycerides, and those following the Pritikin Eating Plan to lose weight. Limit intake to no more than 10 to 12 packets per day. Sucralose (Splenda) and stevia (brand names include SweetLeaf and Truvia) appear to be the safest choices.

    If You Want To Lose Weight

    Go wild on vegetables. The more vegetables, including dark green, yellow, red, or orange vegetables, the better! They’re among the best foods for weight loss.

    Limit calorie-dense foods such as dried grains (breads, crackers, cold cereals), dried fruits, nuts, and seeds. Avoid refined or concentrated sweeteners. They all pack a lot of calories into very small amounts of food. You’ll find it much easier to feel full and satisfied – and curb hunger – if you focus instead on high-water, high-fiber foods like cooked grains (such as oatmeal and brown rice), vegetables, and whole fruits. These foods are low in calorie density. You’ll eat more – and weigh less.

    Steer clear of fruit and vegetable juices because they provide less satiety than whole fruits and vegetables.

    If Your Weight Is Fine

    Celebrate! Eat as many whole grains, vegetables, legumes (such as beans and peas), and fruits as you want. Enjoy more calorie-dense foods such as avocados and nuts, but limit them to keep your weight under control. Limit avocado intake to no more than 2 ounces per day. Limit walnuts, flaxseeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds, pecans, pistachios, sunflower seeds, filberts (hazelnuts), peanuts, cashews, and macadamia nuts to no more than 1 ounce per day.

    CAUTION | The Less the Better

    While “Caution” foods are not recommended, this list provides direction when food choices are limited.

    Refined Fats & Oils

    Limit the consumption of ALL oils to no more than 1 teaspoon per 1000 calories consumed, especially if you’re trying to lose weight, because oils have the highest calorie density of any food or ingredient.

    Weight Loss Guide

    Everything you need to lose weight permanently. Ultimate Guide For Healthy Weight Loss

    Meal Plan For Weight Loss

    Eat your way thin. Get the 5-Day Sample Meal Plan

    Refined or Concentrated Sweeteners

    For healthy individuals who choose to use sweeteners, a suggested rule of thumb is a maximum of 2 tablespoons of fruit juice concentrate or 1 tablespoon of other refined sweeteners (such as barley malt, corn syrup, rice syrup) per 1000 calories consumed. None is optimal. Avoid fructose and high fructose corn syrup.

    Salt and High-Sodium Foods, Condiments

    Avoid added salt, and highly salted, pickled, and smoked foods. Limit foods that have more than 1 mg of sodium per calorie so as not to exceed 1200 to 1500 mg of sodium per day, depending on age. It’s one of the most important things you can do to lower blood pressure.

    Refined Grains

    Limit as much as possible foods containing refined grains (such as white pasta, white bread, and white rice).

    STOP | Think About It First

    When faced with foods in the “Stop” category, search for choices in the “Go,” and, if necessary, “Caution” foods. “Stop” foods, due to their high content of saturated fat, hydrogenated fat, cholesterol, and/or sodium, may significantly compromise your personal health goals. Be wary of headline-grabbing media stories that suggest otherwise. Unfortunately, the typical American diet is largely made up of “Caution” and “Stop” foods.

    Limit the following choices to less than once per month. None is optimal.

    The typical American Diet is full of fatty meats, unhealthy oils, egg yokes and deep fried foods. Diseases like obesity, type-2 diabetes, hypertension, high-cholesterol and heart disease are the result of this unhealthy diet.

    Animal Fats, Tropical Oils, and Processed Refined Oils

    Such as butter, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, lard, chicken fat, palm oil, cocoa butter, chocolate, margarine, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, and shortenings.


    Such as fatty meats, organ meats, and processed meats (hot dogs, bacon, and bologna).

    Whole and Low-Fat Dairy

    All cheese, cream, cream cheese, half-and-half, ice cream, milk, sour cream, and yogurt, unless fat-free and low in sodium.



    Salt Substitutes

    Potassium chloride. Learn more about salt substitutes.


    Egg yolks, deep-fried foods, non-dairy whipped toppings, rich desserts and pastries, and salty snack foods.

    Food Education at the Pritikin Longevity Center

    Five bountiful meals and snacks are served daily at the Pritikin Longevity Center. The Pritikin Diet works in part because you aren’t losing your mind while you’re losing weight. There’s no calorie counting, no deprivation, and no hunger. Instead, the focus is a lot of good food that is low in calorie density, naturally high in nutrients, and delicious.

    Each day, wellness education workshops and cooking classes led by Pritikin’s nutritionists and award-winning chefs teach all the basics for healthy Pritikin living at home. Topics include:

    • Eating On the Go
    • Restaurant Dining
    • Smart Supermarket Shopping
    • Healthy No-Cook Recipes
    • Gourmet Entertaining

    Healthy Recipes, Healthy Foods

    “Healthy” does not have to mean “blah!” The award-winning chefs at Pritikin are masters at showing people how delicious healthy eating can be. Get a taste of Pritikin deliciousness with this Carrot and Pineapple Salad. It’s a favorite among guests at the Pritikin health resort.

    Lose Weight at the Pritikin Weight-Loss Retreat

    Take life to the next level, and be all that you can be. That’s what a vacation at Pritikin is all about. Live better. Look better. And best of all, feel better.

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    The 7 Best Food Combinations for Weight Loss

    Would you pay top dollar for a comedy performance by…Peele? Or expect a great film from a singular Coen brother? Or rock to the sounds of just one of those robots from Daft Punk?

    There’s a reason why people love the music of the Stones more than either Jagger or Richards: amazing things happen when two great collaborators work in tandem to create magic. That’s true in art, and it’s just as true in nutrition. More and more research confirms what great chefs and home cooks have always known: Foods weren’t meant to be eaten alone. They’re meant to work in partnership, each bringing its own set of unique flavors (and nutrients) to create the perfect weight-loss meal.

    Case in point: Last month, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that salads were more nutritionally potent if you added eggs to them. The reason is that the eggs made it easier for your body to absorb carotenoids, the pigments that give veggies their color—and help you fight weight gain. Here are 8 other ideal collaborators, each bringing its own unique nutritional talents to help keep you slim.

    Weight-Loss Combo #7

    Tuna + Ginger

    Want to look better on the beach? Look no further than the ocean—or at least the oceanside sushi joint. Pairing a tuna roll, or a few pieces of tuna sashimi, with ginger may help your waistline. The ginger accelerates gastric emptying, which helps diminish that bloated look rapidly, and it also blocks several genes and enzymes in the body that promote bloat-causing inflammation. Tuna’s role here is critical, too; it’s a primo source of docosahexaenoic acid, a type of omega-3 fat that can ward off stress chemicals that promote flab storage and down-regulate fat genes in the stomach, stopping belly fat cells from growing larger.

    Make a Power Combo: Place the ginger atop your brown rice sushi—but lay off the soy sauce. A single tablespoon has more than 1,000 mg of belly-bloating sodium, more than a Big Mac!

    Weight-Loss Combo #6

    Spinach + Avocado Oil

    If you’re tiring of your usual go-to spinach-and-olive-oil salad, mix things up with avocado oil. Made from pressed avocados, it’s rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that may help improve cholesterol and ward off hunger. It also contains vitamins B and E and bloat-banishing potassium. Meanwhile, the high-volume, low-calorie spinach will fill you up without filling you out. And studies show that women who eat foods with high water content, such as leafy greens, have lower BMIs and smaller waistlines than those who don’t. Go green to get lean.

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    Make a Power Combo: Sauté a cup of spinach in a tablespoon of olive oil for a quick, easy and filling side dish. Avocado oil also works well drizzled over whole-wheat breads, fish and homemade pizzas.

    Weight-Loss Combo #5

    Corn + Beans

    While eating “a musical fruit” may not sound like the best way to lose weight or reduce bloat, hear us out. A calorie-restricted diet that includes four weekly servings of protein- and fiber-rich legumes has been proven to aid weight loss more effectively than a diet that doesn’t include beans, according to Spanish researchers. And pairing beans with corn can help boost the slimming effect. Corn—like bananas and cold pasta—contains resistant starch, a carb that dodges digestion. In turn, the body isn’t able to absorb as many of its calories or glucose, a nutrient that’s stored as fat if it’s not burned off. Music to our ears.

    Make a Power Combo: Make a quick and easy corn and bean side dish. Combine cans of corn (free of both salt and BPA) and beans in a saucepan and warm over medium heat. Season with ground pepper and cilantro. Add the mixture to greens for a waist-trimming salad, use it as a flavorful topper for grilled chicken, or load the mixture into a toasted whole-grain pita pocket for a quick, on-the-go lunch.

    Weight-Loss Combo #4

    Honeydew + Red Grapes

    Fight fat and banish bloating with a fruit salad comprised of honeydew and red grapes. Melon is a natural diuretic, so it helps fight the water retention responsible for making you look puffy even if you have a toned stomach. Red grapes add fuel to the better-belly fire because they contain an antioxidant called anthocyanin that helps calm the action of fat-storage genes. This dynamic duo makes for a delicious, healthy dessert, perfect for summer.

    Make a Power Combo: Throw both into a fruit salad—and add some other red fruits. They pack the most phytonutrients, according to research.

    Weight-Loss Combo #3

    Cayenne + Chicken

    You feel like chicken tonight? Good for you: Protein-rich foods like poultry not only boost satiety, but also help people eat less at subsequent meals, according to research. And adding cayenne pepper fires up your fat burn. A compound in the pepper, called capsaicin, has proven to suppress appetite and boost the body’s ability to convert food to energy. Daily consumption of capsaicin speeds up abdominal fat loss, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found.

    Make a Power Combo: Just one gram of red pepper (about 1/2 a teaspoon) can help manage appetite and increase calorie burn after a meal, according to a study by Purdue University researchers. So go beyond chicken and season grilled fish, meats and eggs with a pinch of red chili pepper.

    Weight-Loss Combo #2

    Potatoes + Pepper

    Thanks to the low-carb craze, white potatoes have been unfairly blacklisted. A second look at the science reveals the spuds can actually help you lose weight. Australian researchers found that potatoes are actually more filling than fiber-rich brown rice and oatmeal—and they’re a good source of bloat-banishing potassium. Just be sure to skip the butter in favor of pepper. Piperine, the powerful compound that gives black pepper its taste, may interfere with the formation of new fat cells—a reaction known as adipogenesis.

    Make a Power Combo: Enjoy half a baked potato with a bit olive oil and fresh pepper—and not just as a side dish. It can be a snack, too.

    Weight-Loss Combo #1

    Coffee + Cinnamon

    Next time you’re in a Starbucks, ward off diet-derailing hunger by adding cinnamon to your coffee. Cinnamon is flavorful, practically calorie-free and contains powerful antioxidants that are proven to reduce the accumulation of belly flab. Pair that with an appetite-suppressing cup of caffeine, and you’re losing weight first thing in the morning.

    Make a Power Combo: If you’re making coffee at home, add cinnamon right into your brew-pot with the grinds for an even better taste.

    This article originally appeared on Eat This, Not That!

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    How to Use Fruits and Vegetables to Help Manage Your Weight

    Instead of a high-calorie snack from a vending machine, bring some cut-up vegetables or fruit from home. A 1-ounce bag of corn chips has as many calories as a small apple, 1 cup of whole strawberries, AND 1 cup of carrots with 1/4 cup of low-calorie dip. Substitute one or two of these options for the chips, and you will have a satisfying snack with fewer calories.

    Remember: Substitution is the key.

    It’s true that fruits and vegetables are lower in calories than many other foods, but they do contain some calories. If you start eating fruits and vegetables in addition to what you usually eat, you are adding calories and may gain weight. The key is substitution. Eat fruits and vegetables instead of some other higher-calorie food.

    More Tips for Making Fruits and Vegetables Part of Your Weight Management Plan

    Eat fruits and vegetables the way nature provided—or with fat-free or low-fat cooking techniques.
    Try steaming your vegetables, using low-calorie or low-fat dressings, and using herbs and spices to add flavor. Some cooking techniques, such as breading
    and frying, or using high-fat dressings or sauces will greatly increase the calories and fat in the dish. And eat your fruit raw to enjoy its natural sweetness.

    Canned or frozen fruits and vegetables are also good options.
    Frozen or canned fruits and vegetables can be just as nutritious as the fresh varieties. However, be careful to choose those without added sugar, syrup, cream sauces, or other ingredients that will add calories.

    Choose whole fruit over fruit drinks and juices. Fruit juices have lost fiber from the fruit.
    It is better to eat the whole fruit because it contains the added fiber that helps you feel full. One 6-ounce serving of orange juice has 85 calories, compared to just 65 calories in a medium orange.

    Whole fruit gives you a bigger size snack than the same fruit dried—for the same number of calories.
    A small box of raisins (1/4 cup) is about 100 calories. For the same number of calories, you can eat 1 cup of grapes.

    Unfortunately, canned beans are often full of sodium – about 500 milligrams per half-cup serving. It would be real tough to stay within the American Heart Association and Pritikin Eating Plan’s guidelines of no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium for the entire day if you were blowing one-third of your quota on one small half-cup of salted beans.

    So look for no-salt-added varieties. Hearteningly, there are many brands now in supermarkets, including Del Monte, Eden Organic, Goya, 365, and many store brands. Read the Ingredient List to see if sodium or salt has been added. Read the Nutrition Facts label to see how much sodium, per serving, the beans contain.

    Canned beans that are simply beans (no sodium, sugar, or other harmful ingredients added) are a superbly healthy food choice.

    And do keep eating your beans, also called legumes, such as garbanzos (chickpeas), pintos, black beans, red beans, lentils, soybeans, and split peas. They are a super-rich source of nutrition, notably cholesterol-lowering fiber.

    Cheerios vs beans

    On TV commercials, you’ve likely heard that Cheerios’ fiber “can help lower cholesterol.” But what these commercials don’t tell you is that you’d need to eat 3 cups of Cheerios each day to get any cholesterol-lowering effect.

    Per cup, Cheerios has 2.6 grams of fiber. Per cup, cooked beans like garbanzos have 12.5 grams of fiber. That’s right, nearly 5 times more fiber than Cheerios.

    For heart health, you want soluble fiber, which beans are rich in.

    Soluble fiber binds with bile acids in the gut. In doing so, it prevents the bile acids from being reabsorbed back into the bloodstream. But since we need bile acids for important digestive processes, the liver makes more bile acids by taking cholesterol out of our blood. That’s a good thing because it means that bad forms of cholesterol, like LDL, go down.

    Bottom Line | Are canned beans healthy?

    Canned beans that are simply beans (no sodium, sugar, or other harmful ingredients added) are an excellent food choice.

    Learn To Grocery Shop Healthy

    Good health often starts with the foods you put in your grocery cart. Learn the secrets of healthy shopping in a fun, interactive Healthy Grocery Shopping Scavenger Hunt

    To lower your bad cholesterol, also known as non-HDL cholesterol, eat beans. For a great source of protein, eat beans. To lose weight, eat beans. Beans are filling, moderately low in calorie density, tasty, and easy to add to all kinds of meals and snacks like salads, soups, main dishes, and side dishes. For inspiration, try this easy, delicious Pritikin recipe, always a hit at the Pritikin Longevity Center – Garbanzo Bean Soup.

    Garbanzo Bean Soup

    Votes: 6
    Rating: 4.33
    Rate this recipe!
    Print Recipe Add to Shopping List This recipe is in your Shopping List Add to Meal Plan: This recipe has been added to your Meal Plan
    • CourseMain Dish, Soup
    • CuisineComfort Food, Slow Yet Simple, Vegan
    Servings Prep Time
    8 people 20 minutes

    Cook Time

    70 minutes

    Servings Prep Time
    8 people 20 minutes

    Cook Time

    70 minutes

    Garbanzo Bean Soup

    Votes: 6
    Rating: 4.33
    Rate this recipe!
    Print Recipe Add to Shopping List This recipe is in your Shopping List Add to Meal Plan: This recipe has been added to your Meal Plan
    • CourseMain Dish, Soup
    • CuisineComfort Food, Slow Yet Simple, Vegan
    Servings Prep Time
    8 people 20 minutes

    Cook Time

    70 minutes

    Servings Prep Time
    8 people 20 minutes

    Cook Time

    70 minutes


    • 1 cup onions chopped
    • 4 cups vegetable stock (low-sodium)
    • 1/3 cup green bell peppers diced
    • 1/2 cup cabbage chopped
    • 2 1/2 cups garbanzo beans cooked and drained
    • 1 potato peeled and diced
    • 2 teaspoons soy sauce, low sodium
    • 1 teaspoon basil dried, crushed
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 teaspoon coriander
    • 1 teaspoon cumin

    Servings: people Units: Instructions

    1. In a large hot stockpot, sauté onions in ¼ cup of broth until softened.
    2. Add green bell peppers and cabbage. Sauté for 5 minutes.
    3. Add garbanzo beans, potato, soy sauce, basil, bay leaves, coriander, cumin, and remaining stock, and simmer for 1 hour.
    4. Remove 1 cup garbanzo beans from soup stock and puree; add pureed beans back to soup.
    5. Remove bay leaves and serve.

    Studies conducted on animals have shown that consuming black beans helps control appetite and can lead to significant reductions in unhealthy body fat. In order to maintain the best digestive health, all adults should aim to have at least 30 grams of fiber from whole foods every day. The fiber and protein in beans help the glucose (sugar) from the starch of the beans to be slowly released into the bloodstream. While simple carbs — including processed foods like cookies, cereal, refined grains and sweetened snacks — release sugar into the blood very quickly, beans keep you full for a long time.

    4. Improves Digestion

    Beans contain resistant starch that feeds the good bacteria in your gut. The high fiber content of black beans nutrition also helps improve digestion by keeping the digestive tract clear of toxic buildup. Fiber acts like a broom for the digestive system, working to push waste through the digestive tract so the bacteria of the gut flora can remain balanced. This prevents unwanted digestive symptoms like constipation, IBS and more. Black beans have also been shown in studies to protect colon health and potentially help ward off colitis or colon cancer due to their ability to block oxidative damage within the digestive system.

    The fiber in black beans nutrition can help maintain the body’s naturally preferred pH level, balancing acidity and alkalinity. Legumes have an alkalizing effect on the body, which helps balance pH levels by combating the high level of acidity that is common in most modern diets due to high amounts of meat, dairy and processed food. Additionally, black beans have been found in studies to have antibacterial and antiparasitic properties. They can help clear toxins and unwanted bacteria from the body, which can help restore digestive function and improve overall health.

    5. Provides Long-Lasting Energy

    It’s very important to consume the right type of carbohydrates — in the form of whole, unrefined vegetables, starches, legumes and occasionally sprouted grains — in order to keep blood sugar levels stable.

    Beans and legumes contain a form of complex carbohydrate called starch, which the body is able to slowly digest and use for energy without spiking blood sugar levels. This makes black beans a food that is considered low on the glycemic index. All types of legumes are considered low-GI foods and therefore may reduce the total glycemic load of meals in which they are included.

    6. Helps Keep Blood Sugar Levels Stable

    The starch found in black beans nutrition contains the natural sugar called glucose, which the body uses easily for many essential functions. “Fast” or “simple” carbs tend to do the opposite of complex carbs like starch — quickly raising blood sugar levels as a high amount of sugar is released into the blood all at once. The cycle of eating the wrong types of refined carbs also leads to cravings for more sweets, low energy, overeating, and even potential problems managing blood sugar and insulin levels. Long term, this can lead to diabetes or metabolic syndrome. However, a 2015 study published in the journal Nutrients found that including black beans in a typical Western-style meal helps regulate release of insulin and also increases antioxidant status.

    Because of black beans’ ability to provide “time released” energy in the form of starches, they make an excellent carbohydrate source for anyone who has a form of resistance to insulin (the blood sugar-lowering hormone), like those who are prediabetic or who have diabetes. Consuming resistant starch from legumes has been shown to have antidiabetic effects and help fight other risk factors for metabolic syndrome, like hypertension.

    7. Contains Essential Vitamins and Minerals

    Black beans are an excellent source of numerous vitamins and minerals. In fact, they are high in magnesium, iron, folate, phosphorus and B vitamins. These nutrients are all especially important for vegetarians and vegans who may be lacking in these nutrients due to eliminating other animal sources. Anti-inflammatory, high-nutrient diets that include foods like black beans can help prevent many common diseases, including fibromyalgia, leaky gut, metabolic syndrome and more.

    8. High in Protein

    Black beans nutrition also provides a high amount of plant-based protein. The body uses protein, in the form of amino acids, for nearly every function. Making sure to eat adequate amounts of protein on a regular basis can help fight symptoms related to protein deficiency, including weight gain, overeating, muscle weakness, fatigue, low energy, eye problems, heart problems, poor skin health, imbalanced hormone levels and more. Protein is crucial for helping to build muscle and keeping the body energetic, strong and youthful. While many people require less calories as they age in order to maintain a healthy weight, black beans add a high amount of nutrients to the diet without contributing a many calories (only about 110 calories per half cup).

    Black beans as part of traditional diets are often eaten with rice, corn or starchy vegetables. Luckily, these combinations work together to make up a “complete protein,” meaning they contain all of the essential amino acids (known as the building blocks of proteins) that are necessary to acquire through protein-rich foods, since the body cannot make them. Consuming beans is a great way to add low-fat, high-fiber protein to your diet.

    9. Helps with Weight Loss

    A 2016 review published in the found that American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that dietary pulse consumption may reduce body fat percentage in adults. It’s believed that legumes have positive effects on weight management because of their ability to improve a number of metabolic functions, insulin sensitivity and hepatic/liver function in obese adults.

    Black beans nutrition boasts a very low calorie count, especially when you consider the range of nutrients and fiber. Consuming black beans can make you less likely to overeat since fiber expands in the digestive tract, soaking up water and taking up a high volume. This makes you less likely to experience food cravings for sweets or to snack on empty-calorie, processed junk foods between meals.

    History of Black Beans Nutrition & Uses in Traditional Medicine/Diets

    According to researchers and archaeologists, beans were one of the first foods that were gathered and prepared by humans, and some think that black beans in particular may have been the first kind of legume to be domesticated for food. Black beans have a very long history in Latin cuisine and are still an extremely important staple crop across Central, South and North America today.

    They were first thought to be consumed in Mexico and South America around 7,000 years ago. Some sources state that they originally were found and harvested in Peru during this time and then spread to almost every other nearby South American and Central American nation over the hundreds of years following.

    From Mexico, black beans spread across territories of the U.S., including Texas, New Mexico and Louisiana, well before they were established U.S. states, and they are still extremely popular in those areas now. Black beans were first introduced into Europe around the 15th century when Spanish explorers brought them back from their travels. They then spread to other parts of the globe, including Africa and Asia.

    In Traditional Chinese Medicine, black beans are said to help tonify the kidneys, nourish yin/feminine energy, strengthen the heart, balance blood pressure and improve circulation. This is due to their supply of important nutrients like folate, resistant starch/fiber and anthocyanins. They are recommended for people dealing with conditions such as kidney disorder, back pain, knee pain, infertility, seminal emissions, blurry vision, ear problems and difficulty urinating.

    Related: Natto: The Fermented Soy Superfood

    Black Beans vs. Pinto Beans vs. Refried Beans

    What’s the biggest difference between black beans nutrition and pinto beans nutrition? Like black beans, pinto beans supply high amounts of folate, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, iron, copper and vitamin B6. Pinto beans are a slightly better source of folate, providing 75 percent of your daily needs in every cup. Both beans, which are related to one another, provide similar amounts of most other nutrients. They have comparable amounts of calories, fiber and protein per one-cup serving.

    Refried beans are typically pinto beans that have been boiled, mashed and fried in some type of fat, then combined with salt, pepper and spices/ingredients like chili, garlic, cumin, onion and lime. They are especially popular in Mexican and Latin cooking.

    You can also make refried beans using black beans or kidney beans instead of pinto beans. The biggest difference between regular cooked beans and refried beans is the fat content. Refried beans have more calories and fat because they are made with ingredients like oil, butter or animal fat (such as lard, which is pig fat or bacon drippings).

    Where to Find and How to Use Black Beans

    Purchasing Black Beans:

    Black beans can be found in dried or precooked varieties. They are most available in precooked/canned or precooked/frozen varieties.

    Is there a difference between cooked black beans nutrition and canned black beans nutrition? Precooked black beans, either in canned or frozen form, often have the same nutrient levels as freshly made beans, so as long as you buy a high-quality kind. Buying canned black beans means you can conveniently enjoy beans even when you’re short on time.

    Look for dried black beans at markets that sell food by the pound or in the “bulk bin” section of your favorite health food store — where you will likely be able to find organic dried beans for sale at a very low cost. If you find sprouted black beans, that’s even better! Dried beans remain fresh for a long time, so you don’t need to worry about buying too much and having them spoil.

    Keep some dried beans in your kitchen for whenever you have some extra time to cook. Dry, uncooked black beans will keep for up to 12 months if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place like your cabinet.

    How to Cook Black Beans:

    Most people tend to use precooked, canned beans because the cooking time for dried beans can be a bit long. Cooking black beans from scratch requires you to plan a day ahead in order to soak the beans. However, many people feel that beans made from scratch taste the best and hold their texture more than precooked kinds — plus this allows you to save and use the starchy, black cooking liquid too.

    Canned, precooked beans are a great option when you don’t have time to prepare beans from scratch, although many brands of canned beans use the chemical BPA in the lining of their cans, which is a toxin you want to avoid leaching into your food. Look for organic varieties of canned beans that are certified “BPA free” in order to avoid this chemical winding up in your beans.

    • Make sure to rinse canned beans to reduce the sodium content and to freshen up the taste. You can also try simmering canned and rinsed beans in some vegetable stock to further plump them up and enhance their flavor.
    • It’s best to soak all dried beans overnight prior to cooking them, which help make them more digestible to aid in absorbing their nutrients and decrease cooking time.
    • To cook black beans, place soaked beans in a pot and cover with water, so the water is about about 2–3 inches above the beans. Boil for 45 minutes to an hour. Then drain any extra liquid and add spices of your choice.
    • Cooked black beans should stay fresh for about 4–5 days, but you can also easily freeze them after cooking them and use them later on.

    How to Sprout Black Beans + Black Bean Recipes

    Phytates and tannins are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in all beans and legumes. They are sometimes called “nutrient blockers” or antinutrients since they can lower nutrient availability in some cases. Soaking and sprouting black beans helps eliminate phytic acid and may greatly increase mineral absorption — in addition to making the beans more digestible and less gas-forming.

    It’s believed that one of the reasons phytic acid has become a health concern today is because we no longer practice food preparation techniques such as sprouting or sourdough fermentation, which kills off a high amount of phytic acid. Therefore people are consuming much more of it than ever before.

    A diet high in phytic acid can potentially create mineral deficiencies and even lead to bone loss and osteoporosis. Many of the vitamins and minerals that are naturally found in beans are actually bound to phytic acid so it is difficult to absorb them. Phytic acid not only decreases the available minerals in your food, but can also leach minerals from your bones and teeth where they are stored.

    Sprouting Black Beans:

    In order to avoid consuming too high of levels of phytic acid, it’s best to buy organic beans that are also labeled GMO free, since phytic acid is much higher in foods grown using modern, high-phosphate fertilizers than those grown in natural compost.

    Also try soaking and sprouting your beans (and grains too) since this can help to reduce phytic acid by around 50–100 percent.

    Here are directions for sprouting black beans:

    1. Rinse black beans, remove any debris, and place them in a jar or other glass container.
    2. Add 2–3 cups water, filling the jar about three-quarters full. Add a towel or cheesecloth as a lid.
    3. Let the black beans sit for at least 8 hours or overnight. Then drain and rinse the beans.
    4. Repeat rinsing and draining 3–4 times per day until sprouts start to appear. This should take about 2–4 days, depending on the size of the beans. Look for sprouts that are at least 1/4 inch long.
    5. You can store sprouts in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, but ideally use them within several days.

    How to Use Black Beans in Recipes:

    Black beans have been used in Latin American cuisines for thousands of years. Today they are most commonly found in Mexican, Brazilian, Dominican, Cuban, Cajun and Creole cuisines.

    These beans have a hearty, meaty texture that can also be creamy when they are cooked. They have a smoky and slightly sweet but versatile taste when they are mature and fully cooked, which is why they are often used as a meat substitute in many vegetarian and vegan dishes.

    Some people describe their taste as similar to mushrooms, another popular meat substitute. Many cultures use to keep and consume the boiled water of black beans after preparing them, since it becomes thick and black, taking on a starchy taste and texture that can be added to soups or rice. The cooking liquid of black beans is mixed with seasoning and consumed as a broth in many Latin natures.

    Try incorporating healthy black beans into your diet using some of these recipes:

    • Black Bean Soup Recipe
    • Black Bean Quinoa Salad Recipe
    • Black Bean Brownies Recipe

    Black Bean Side Effects and Precautions

    Black beans also contain certain chemical compounds call purines, which are found in many different types of plant- and animal-based foods. Purines can turn into uric acid within the body when high levels are consumed, which can result in problems for people who do not process uric acid well.

    Gout and kidney stones are two conditions that result from excess accumulation of uric acid within the body. Therefore people with these conditions should avoid consuming high levels of purine-foods. If you experience any condition related to high uric acid buildup, speak to your doctor about your specific dietary choices.

    Some people experience digestive discomfort when eating beans due to their high fiber and starch content. If this happens to you, try preparing beans from scratch (dried form) and soaking them overnight first. This helps cut down on certain compounds that can cause digestive problems, including gas and bloating.

    If you aren’t accustomed to eating high amounts of fiber, gradually introduce more into your diet instead of consuming a large amount of fiber-rich beans all at once. This will help ease digestion and avoid unwanted symptoms.

    Final Thoughts on Black Beans Nutrition

    • Black beans, or “common beans,” are from the Phaseolus vulgaris legume family. They are related to other legumes like pinto beans and kidney beans.
    • Why is black beans nutrition valuable? These legumes are an extremely affordable source of protein, filling fiber, disease fighting antioxidants including flavonoids, and numerous vitamins and minerals, like folate, manganese, magnesium, copper, iron and more.
    • Black beans benefits include improving heart health, providing antioxidants that protect against disease, improving digestion, supplying plant-based protein, balancing blood sugar and aiding weight loss.

    Read Next: Kidney Beans Nutrition Helps Fight Diabetes, Heart Disease & Even Some Cancers

    Beans and weight loss

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