Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Are Some Types of Beans Better Than Others?

My family eats a lot of legumes, mostly chickpeas and black beans because I have lots of recipes for those. I am wondering if there is enough nutritional difference between varieties of beans that I should be branching out and serving more different kinds - maybe lima beans, kidney beans etc? Or are they basically all the same nutritionally anyway? Thanks so much! - Jennifer C.

Dear Jennifer,

It appears at first glance that all beans are equally good sources of iron, fiber, and minerals so you might not need variety. But the same seems true of many fruits and vegetables until the discovery of some new phytonutrient that seems to come along every few months. All of a sudden one day blueberries are super, or tomatoes have something no other food has so much of, or red raspberries are a must for this new fantastic component that is healthy for our cells!

Apparently the lesson is that variety is always important, even within the same type of food.
I would suggest using any type of bean you can find to mix and match in recipes: try black-eyed peas, great northern beans, pinto beans and navy beans for starters. You might find some new favorites, and you'll never be left out of the loop when some amazing nutrients are discovered in high concentration in one kind of bean!

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