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Eating beans & legumes.

Why eating beans is good for you. For thousands of years, civilians depended on beans as a major part of their diet. When all other food sources failed, beans were there to help them survive. Beans were easily stored for long periods. In time, the human body adapted to surviving on beans, and thrives best when including this basic food group. Every major body system depends on bean's nutrition for a healthy resistance. The goodness of beans includes its close biological relatives of the legume family, peas and lentils. Eating beans makes healthy bodies in these nine important areas: blood and circulation, calcium balance, cancer, diabetes, diet, ecology and environment, fiber, food allergy, and nutrition.

Blood and circulation: Although the reasons are not well understood, eating beans is required for good blood circulation. Beans contain vitamin K which is essential for normal blood clotting. Potassium in beans neutralizes sodium that causes high blood pressure and promotes heat attacks. Beans lower fat globules (just like aspirin does) that blocks blood flow through blood vessels. This leads to heart attacks. Varicose veins are rare among bean eaters.

Calcium balance: Eating too much animal protein (over 20% of diet) makes acid urine (causing gout). Body removes calcium from bones to neutralize this acid, causing osteoporosis (bone loss). Acid urine and cholesterol combine to make gall and kidney stones. Beans have calcium to help keep bones strong.

Cancer: Eating animal proteins and not eating beans is associated with some types of reproductive cancers: breast, prostate, ovarian and uterine.

Diabetes: Beans contain their own enzyme for digestion, so they need very little insulin for digestion. Because beans take so long to digest, there is no insulin rebound.

Diet: Beans have more fiber and protein than some other foods, and take longer to digest. They fill you up faster and keep you full longer, so you eat less.

Ecology and environment: Growing beans is 30 times more efficient than raising beef. Growing beans requires less land, water and time than any other protein source. Beans do not require energy-expensive refrigeration that animal proteins need. Dry beans last forever. Some 6,000 year old peas, recovered form an Egyptian tomb, sprouted and grew.

Fiber: Beans contain both beneficial soluble and insoluble fibers. Soluble fibers absorb cholesterol and triglycerides (oat bran does not) and toxins so they will be expelled and not absorbed into the body. They also prevent constipation. Beans as a laxative are cheaper, better tasting than any laxative, and have no bad side effects. Insoluble fibers sweep undigested meat and fat from the digestive track, and prevents many types of cancers and problems like appendicitis, constipation, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, and hiatal hernia.

Food allergy: Allergy to beans is almost non-existent, although a few people of Jamaican descent are allergic to fava beans. Dried beans are not processed and do not have any additives, flavorings or preservatives. Beans are pure food, nothing else.

Nutrition: Beans have vitamins: B1 (thiamine), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), and B9 (folic acid). An excellent source of minerals: calcium, iron, magnesium phosphorous and potassium. Beans also contains the minerals: boron, copper, iodine, manganese, and zinc. A cup of beans has 200 calories, no cholesterol, and only 1-2% of polyunsaturated fat. Beans have a perfect 3-to-1 ratio of carbohydrates to proteins. Beans are a good, cheap and ergonomic source of protein and essential amino acids (EAA's).

Soaking beans before cooking makes the bean come alive, and increases some nutrients by significant amounts. Beans (like all foods) are short on some essential amino acids, and the bean meal should be complimented with a food from the grain, seed or nut groups. (Beans and rice are a great combination.)

How to cook beans and legumes

Try many different kinds of beans. They are all good for you.

1. Clean beans. Remove broken and discolored ones and those with insect holes. Remove stones and all foreign objects.

2. Plan your meals ahead of time so you can soak beans for their proper time. Hard beans require at least 12 hours soaking. Regular beans require at least 4 hours soaking, soft beans require no soaking time. Soaking beans makes them come alive, and increases some of their nutrients a thousand fold.

3. Use pure or distilled water, not hard water, for soaking and cooking beans. Calcium in hard water destroys nutrients in the beans.

4. Do not use salt or any acids in soaking or cooking water for beans. Salt and acids (chili sauce, ketchup, lemon juice, tomato, wine or vinegar) seals the hole where water enters the bean and keeps the bean from becoming soft.

5. Do not use any alkali (baking soda) for soaking or cooking beans. It destroys beans' nutritional values and wastes its minerals.

6. Do not discard soaking and/or cooking water. It contains many valuable nutrients and minerals. Use it to make soups, sauces or gravy. Thicken it with pureed beans. To diminish flatulence (gas) add 1/2 teaspoon ginger to cooking water, or add a peeled apple or potato to cooking water. Discard apple or potato after cooking. As your body grows accustomed to eating beans and legumes, flatulence will become less of a problem.

7. Cook the beans the proper length of time. Older beans require more cooking time. While beans are cooking, you may add bay leaf, broth (no salt), celery, garlic, mustard, onion, parsley, pepper, and/or spices: but do not add acid, alkali, molasses or salt. Check beans for doneness by pressing a cooked bean against your teeth or roof of your mouth with tongue.

8. If pressed for time, use a pressure cooker to cook beans, but you will lose precious nutritional values.

9. Only after proper cooking time, add anything you want to cooked beans. This is the time to add acidic tomatoes and/or citrus to improve absorption of iron from the beans. You can also add molasses.

Bean business

This little white bean was a staple of the U.S. Navy kitchens since the 1800s. Hence, the "navy bean" was named.--Source:

Lima beans originated in Peru and have been used for over 5,000 years. In 2010 about 30,000 acres were harvested for human consumption by freezing and 4,740 for canning according to the

From 1987-89 the average edible dry bean consumption was 5.99 lbs./capita. From 1997-99, that average increased to 7.67 lbs./capita. Much of that consumption is in the form of pinto (refried) beans.

Garbanzo beans are most popular in the West (50%; for salads and hummus) and least consumed in the South (11%).--Economic Research Service, USDA


Cooking times for beans

 Cook Cook Cook
Type: Name: minutes; minutes; minutes;
 (unsoaked) (soaked) (at 15 psi)

Hard beans: Fava, lupine, 120-180 40 60
 garbanzo, soy

Regular Adzuki, black, 60-90 20 25
beans: cranberry,
 kidney, peas

Soft beans: Black eye, 25-30 No soaking 10
 lentils, split
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Title Annotation:The homestead kitchen
Author:Stevko, Phillip J.
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Apr 22, 2011
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