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Better with beans

Why eat beans? They’re healthy, inexpensive—and delicious. No matter which type of bean you choose, they all contain ample amounts of vitamins and minerals. Here’s the lowdown on beans and some helpful suggestions for getting your fill of these nutritional powerhouses:

Slim down

Beans are low in fat and calories and high in protein and dietary fiber. Dietary fiber can slow the absorption rate of carbohydrates, which may help keep hunger at bay.

Try: Kidney beans

Whether you choose to use dark or light kidney beans, substitute them for the meat in tacos, blend cooked beans with your favorite herbs and spices in a food processor for a quick spread or mix them with black beans, white beans and a light vinaigrette dressing for a tasty, healthy three-bean salad.

Defeat diabetes

Beans contain high amounts of soluble fiber, which helps to lower cholesterol. Fiber slows the passage of glucose from food into your bloodstream, helping you maintain normal blood sugar levels, an important goal for people with diabetes.

Try: Pinto beans

They’re especially high in fiber: A half-cup serving contains 8 grams of fiber. Experiment by using pinto beans instead of the usual kidney beans in your chili recipes or add them to cooked rice or a hearty vegetable soup.

Fight cancer

Eating plenty of cooked dry beans may protect against colon cancer, thanks to beans’ many nutrients and their low glycemic index. Being low glycemic means these foods don’t cause blood sugar to fluctuate as much as high-glycemic foods, such as white bread, do.

Try: Navy beans

Usually the foundation for baked beans, you can also use them to complement a nutritious chili made with chicken, toss them into tomato soup or mix them with olive oil and garlic and serve on top of baked bread.

Heal your heart

Besides being low in total fat, saturated fat and sodium and high in soluble fiber, beans also contain lots of potassium, which can help maintain normal blood pressure.

Try: Garbanzo beans, or chickpeas

These beans are the basis for tasty hummus, which you can make by pureeing them with olive oil, garlic, tahini paste and lemon juice; serve with whole-wheat pita chips. You can also try them tossed with a green salad or eat them with a sprinkling of your favorite herbs and spices.