The humble bean is quite the super food: packed with calcium, iron, potassium, B vitamins, plus about a quarter of the protein and half the fiber recommended daily for adults—all in a single serving. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, beans may even lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, which can help boost heart health. Beans also do double duty in the food pyramid as both a vegetable and a protein. Not to mention, beans are easy to cook with, widely available and inexpensive.
Beans and their legume cousins (such as soybeans, chickpeas and lentils) have been cultivated and consumed for centuries as a part of many world cuisines: Black beans figure prominently in Central American and Caribbean dishes, chickpeas are a staple of Middle Eastern cooking, lentils are common in Indian and Persian recipes, and white beans are a fixture of French and Italian cookbooks.
Read more about cooking with beans, and get lots of great recipes, in my article on SparkPeople.com—Beans: The Super Food that Keeps You Full.