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Ingredient Spotlight: Dry Beans

April 7, 2018

The Nutrition

All types of beans—including black, cranberry, Great Northern, dark red kidney, light red kidney, white kidney, navy, pink, pinto, and small red—are good sources of protein, excellent sources of fiber, and
naturally fat-free, sodium-free, and cholesterol-free. Many types are also good sources of potassium.

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating about 3 cups of legumes, including beans, per week. If you eat about ½ cup of beans every day, you’ll meet the weekly Dietary Guidelines for legumes. And when you consider the fact that USDA MyPlate guidelines count beans as both a vegetable and a plant-based protein source, you’ll begin to see how easy it is to put more beans in your diet.

The fiber in dried beans is nutritionally beneficial to your health. Soluble fiber traps dietary cholesterol inside the digestive tract. The cholesterol is then excreted versus being absorbed, which helps to lower blood levels of LDL cholesterol, especially if LDL cholesterol levels were high to begin with. Dry beans also provide substantial amounts of insoluble fiber, which help attract water to the stool and keeps you regular. This may help to combat constipation, colon cancer, and other digestive health conditions.

Beans are also excellent sources of copper, phosphorus, manganese and magnesium—nutrients that many Americans don’t get enough of. Most types of dry beans are rich sources of iron, which makes them important for vegetarians and vegans who do not get an animal source of iron. Dry beans are an excellent source of the water-soluble vitamins thiamin and folic acid and a good source of riboflavin and vitamin B6.

Storing Beans
Another benefit of beans is that they freeze well. If you freeze beans as part of combination dishes, check out the chart from the National Center for Home Preservation on foods that do not freeze well
to determine if the other ingredients in the bean dish would freeze well.

Cool beans in shallow pans before bagging them for the freezer; you can also refrigerate slightly cool beans (while they are still warm) to avoid leaving beans at room temperature more than two hours, total time. Cooling foods for too long at room temperature may increase the risk of foodborne illness. Use freezer bags (not storage bags) for storing beans in the freezer. Freezer bags are thicker than storage bags and will keeping longer. Before filling a bag with beans, label the bag with the name of the food, amount, and date. Speed freezing and hasten thawing by freezing beans in a thin flattened shape in freezer bags. A rounded shape takes longer to thaw completely. Flatter packages also will stack better in the freezer. Place bags of beans in a single layer in the freezer until they are
solid, then stack them. Frozen bean should maintain a good quality for at least three months when stored at 0°F. They will remain safe indefinitely at this temperature; however, over time, changes in quality and taste may change.

You can thaw beans using the refrigerator, using the microwave, or in cold water. Either way, make sure you do not cook food in the freezer bag. If you decide to use a hot method of thawing, such as microwaving, the plastic of the freezer bag may reach melting temperatures. Be sure to cook the beans to 145 degrees after thawing no matter what method you use.

Source: The Bean Institute

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