Beans are good for you. They are an excellent food rich in protein, minerals, and several key vitamins. The exact contents vary depending on the type of bean, but beans are some of the most nutritionally dense foods in the world. They also offer these nutrients without the fats and carbohydrates found in so many other foods that can lead to weight gain.

In the following excerpt from the book The Green Pharmacy by James A. Duke, PhD and Bill Gottlieb, CHC the authors discuss why beans are a healthy food that aids in healing.

Foods That Heal: Beans

Few foods offer the unique combination of healthy nutrients and easy accessibility that beans do. Eating more can provide a multitude of benefits.

Nutrient Nuts and Bolts: Beans get a lot of good press for being low in fat and high in protein, which makes them a great alternative to animal-based protein sources like red meat. They’re also brimming with soluble fiber. This means that they are adept at whisking cholesterol out of your system via the intestines, making them good for your heart.

A lesser-known benefit of beans, though, is their high levels of isoflavones, compounds that are similar in structure to the estrogen produced by your body (which is why they are also called phytoestrogens). These isoflavones may ease the symptoms of

menopause, prevent some forms of cancer, reduce your risk of heart disease, and improve your bone and prostate health, among other benefits.

How to Get More: The nice thing about beans is how easily you can add them to any meal. Pour them into soups and salads or use them in spicy Mexican dishes. You also can’t go wrong with hummus, a mix of chickpeas, lemon juice, and garlic often served with pita bread or crackers. Or try substituting tofu for meat in some of your dishes.

Making the Most of Them: Dried beans may give you a slight nutritional edge, but not that much, so if you don’t have time to soak and prepare beans, don’t worry. You can still gain a great benefit from canned beans. They’re often high in sodium, though, so you may want to drain and rinse them before using.

Other Eating Tips: We all know the one drawback to eating a lot of beans; let’s just say it’s why they’re called the musical fruit. But you can ease that problem by soaking dried beans overnight and discarding the soaking water before preparing them. Personally, I’m convinced that the Mexican herb epazote can lessen flatulence. Some studies also suggest that adding ginger or savory (an herb in the mint family) to a bean dish can reduce gassiness. Why not add all three?

For additional advice on foods to eat to help with common health conditions, purchase The Green Pharmacy from

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