Apart from being very sustainable these little gems are a great nutrition source as they contain complex carbohydrates, protein, and several B vitamins, Vitamin K, Calcium, Potassium, Iron and Zinc. Due to their high nutritional value, beans and pulses have shown to help stabilise blood sugar levels, which helps result to a reduction in type-2 diabetes.
Colour make a difference?
Beans and lentils contain natural phenolic compounds and carotenoids, these are responsible for their colour, but also powerful antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore black, brown and red colours mean significantly more than their white, green and pale relations.
So Raw is Better?
You may think raw is better but consuming raw or undercook beans and lentils can cause serious health problems. This is due to them containing compounds called lectins which are toxic. However before you panic, this toxin is destroyed when cooked. Soak them first and cook in big batches and freeze what you don’t use- or simply buy them tinned. The nutritional values are similar either way.
The bloated effect
Most of us decide not to consume beans or lentils because you may feel bloated or gassy. However there’s ways to overcome this. When you consume beans often, your gut bacteria adapts, meaning your body finds them easier to digest. If buying tinned beans make sure you rise them thoroughly. This is because you help wash away some specific gas-producing carbohydrates. Adding certain foods, such as fennel, cumin and ginger have shown to help reduce bloating.
Add salt, tomatoes, lemon juice (anything acidic) to your dish last! These acid based foods causes the bean to harden and therefore cooking time increases. Red beans take a shorter time to cook and if cooked long enough turn mushy. This is good in the case of soups.
Remember beans and pulses (lentils and chickpeas) are an amazing nutritious high protein source. we should all be consuming them (if we can) as part of a health balanced lifestyle, not to even mention that the average 400g tin is 50p!