Save Money and be Healthy with…

January 10, 2013

Here’s one food that will keep you healthy and saving money. Find out what food is protein packed and belly filling here

Besides being delicious and versatile, virtually all types of beans are nutrition powerhouses, as they are rich in protein, folate, magnesium, and protective phytochemicals. Darker-colored beans are richest in heart-healthy, cancer-protective antioxidants, but all beans are beneficial to those looking to improve the nutrient density of their meals. Most beans are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, and slowly digested carbohydrates, with a gentler, even beneficial, effect on blood-sugar.

Beans are especially filling and satisfying, even though they're fairly low in calories - about 100 to 125 calories per half-cup serving. Hearty, and protein-packed (about 7 to 15 grams per serving) beans closely match meat's nutrition and flavor profile, without the accompanying dose of saturated fat and for a fraction of the price. 

Cooking dried beans from scratch gives you the firmest texture and best flavor, and it's easy to do with a little advance planning (most beans need to be soaked overnight to increase digestibility and nutrient availability). But there's no denying that canned beans are wonderfully convenient, and you're more likely to eat beans regularly if there are canned beans in your cupboard – but read those ingredient labels carefully as some of the canned varieties may add extra ingredients like salt, fat and in some instances pork fat!

What about price?
While you could get four cups of cooked beans from a package of dried beans for under 60 cents, and you get only one cup for 90 cents to $1.50 for canned beans, it's still such a modest investment that convenience here may make sense. So we're advocates of having both canned and dried on hand.

How to Choose:
Dried beans should look even in color, shape and size. It's important to rinse them before soaking to determine if there are any stray pebbles or dirt that escaped the package. Beans that look wrinkled or misshapen should be avoided. Soak dry beans according to directions, usually several hours to overnight, and cook completely from 1/2 to 2 hours. Salt after cooking to avoid toughening. Once cooked, they can be stored in the refrigerator for several days and added to salads, rice, pasta, or stews as desired.

Canned Beans can have a tremendous amount of sodium, from 140 to 500 mg for a half-cup serving, rinse canned beans thoroughly with cold water before using them to eliminate extra (but not all) of the sodium. In addition to high quantities of added salt, even low salt versions may contain additives or preservatives - read labels, all that is necessary to preserve cooked beans in cans are the beans, water, and salt.

Storage tips:
Store unopened bags of dry beans in a cool dark cupboard for a maximum of one year. Once the package is opened, either store the bag inside a zip lock plastic bag, or pour out the leftover beans into a porcelain, glass, or stainless steel canister with a tight seal.

Store all unopened cans in a cool dark cupboard. Store leftover beans in a separate container with a well-fitting lid and refrigerate. Use within five days. Always buy cans that are clean and well-built; there should be no rusting or bulging.

Beans are good for your digestive system and cardiovascular system as well as overall health, SupermarketGuru suggests you go out and try a new type of bean today!

Stay tuned for a 101 on the various varieties of beans.