Black Beans: A Perfect Food

Black Beans: A Perfect Food

How to lose weight and get healthy with black beans.

Looking for a food that can help make you trim, fit, healthy, pump you full of anti-oxidants, and give you great skin? Who isn’t! Few foods are as well rounded and have as many health benefits as black beans. Ounce for ounce, black beans have the same amount of protein as beef but contain no cholesterol, are packed with anti-oxidants and fiber, and have only a third of the calories.

The American Dietetic Association says that Americans barely eat half the amount of recommended fiber per day. Black beans are high in dietary fiber, which makes it an effective food for lowering cholesterol and improving digestion. 1 cup of black beans provides 15 grams, or 60% of the RDA, of fiber. The high fiber and protein content in black beans makes it a nearly perfect food for maintaining controlled blood sugar levels and avoiding glycemic index peaks and lows. The added benefit of keeping blood sugar levels even is that metabolism remains strong. Your body will burn calories throughout the day, rather than slowing down as your blood sugar dips.

Black beans are extremely high in nutritional value as well, and excellent sources of many vitamins and minerals, including folate, molybdenum, and iron. Molybdenum is a mineral that counteracts the effects of sulfites, such as the one found in red wines. So for those sensitive to sulfites, a serving of black beans may help avoid that red wine headache.

Black beans also have high flavonoid anti-oxidant levels which can battle cancer, heart disease, and aging. It’s a lesser known fact that black beans are an anti-oxidant powerhouse. A study that appeared in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found flavonoid levels similar to those found in red grapes and cranberries. The anti-oxidants are found in the skin of the bean, and the darker the skin, the higher the levels of anti-oxidants.

Black beans also contain omega-3 essential fatty oils. The benefits of omega-3’s are becoming well known and include skin health, lowered blood pressure. Many people with sensitive skin or dermatitis notice a dramatic improvement after incorporating omega-3 supplements or omega-3 rich foods into their diet. Fatty fishes such as salmon are the primary source of omega-3’s. For vegetarians or people who don’t eat fish regularly, black beans or other omega-3-rich foods are a must.

There are many ways to incorporate black beans into meals. Many South American or Mexican dishes include black beans. One of our favorite recipes is a black bean soup, smoky with cumin and tangy with lime. It’s a healthy and low-fat meal that can be part of a weekly menu. Canned beans preserve the nutritional value of the beans and make it much easier and convenient to use them in recipes.

Favorite Black Bean Soup

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove crushed garlic
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
2 (15-oz) cans black beans (do not drain)
1 cup (half a jar) of your favorite salsa
2 Tbsp lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
Plain yogurt or sour cream (optional)

1. In a medium pot, add the olive oil and sauté the onions until they are soft and translucent.
2. Add cumin and garlic, sautéing for an additional minute.
3. Pour in black beans (including juices), salsa, and lime juice. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Simmer covered for 20 minutes.
4. When serving the soup, top with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream.

Serves 4

(Excerpt from Cooking with All Things Trader Joe’s by Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati and reprinted with permission from the authors).

Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati are women who love food, love cooking, and love Trader Joe’s. They are authors of the independent cookbook, “Cooking with All Things Trader Joe’s.” Create the stuff of chefs, in minutes, using their time-saving ideas. Learn more about their book, recipes, and blog at Cooking with All Things Trader Joe’s.