Saturday, September 10, 2011

Taking a Look at Beans

Maybe I'm just using the wrong search terms. But I'm unable to come up with a simple list or chart that discusses the various nutritional aspects of the different varieties of beans and lentils. I've found ones that discuss tastes and what they are best paired with, and individual pages that go into absolutely exhaustive length about the specific nutritional breakdowns of individual beans. No basic list that says "Chickpeas are good sources of x, y, and z, and work well in q. Black beans are high in j, as well as being good sources of k and l." So, I'm going to take 30 minutes and make up my own, posted here for future reference.


  • Adzuki Beans
    • Sweet, "nutty flavor"
    • Good source of iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and folic acid
    • High in protein, low in fat
  • Black beans
    • Excellent source of protein, folate, and fiber
    • Good source of iron, magnesium, thiamin
    • Good source of antioxidants
    • Dense texture, water used to boil is useful for seasoning other dishes
  • Garbanzo Beans 
    • Good for use in Middle Eastern recipes like falafel and hummus
    • Extremely high in protein
    • Good source of carbs for people with insulin sensitivity
    • Good source of folate and dietary fiber, source of iron, magnesium, and phosphorus
  • Kidney Beans
    • Absolutely vital to boil these for at least 10 minutes. NEVER consume raw or undercooked
    • High in fiber, protein, folate, and iron
    • Vitamin K, Thiamin, Phosphorus, mangesium, manganese, potassium
  • Lentils
    • particularly high in protein (of all vegetable sources, rank third under soy and hemp)
    • extremely low in fat
    • Good source of fiber
    • Excellent source of iron (more than half the recommended daily value), folate, and thiamin
  • Lima Beans
    • Keep blood sugars steady, good for those with insulin sensitivities
    • High in fiber, iron
    • Lowers cholesterol
    • Good source of folate, manganese, etc.
  • Navy Beans
    • Helps lower cholesterol, fights cancer cell growth, antibacterial and antifungal properties
    • Extremely low in fat, extremely high in fiber
    • Good source of calcium and iron
    • Good source of protein
  • Pinto Beans
    • Help to reduce cholesterol 
    • When combined with rice, makes for a complete protein
    • Excellent source of fiber
    • Good source of iron, phosphorous, manganese
  • Soy Beans
    • Contains all of the essential amino acids- a complete protein in and of itself
      • particularly high in protein, as well
    • Vitamin B6, Vitamin K
    • Good source of calcium and fiber
    • Excellent source of iron (looks like pretty much the entire recommended amount)
  • Split Peas
    • particularly excellent source of protein and fiber
    • Strong source of iron, thiamine, folate
    • extremely low in fat

Note: "Good Source" generally means 10-30% (I wasn't too specific). It might occasionally deviate, but if I wasn't blown away but it seemed somewhat significant, it got this designation

Having done this, I wanted to take a quick look at some of the repeating nutrients I was relatively unfamiliar with. Here is what they do for you:
  • phosphorus
    • part of the structural framework of DNA and RNA, used to transport energy between cells
    • When combined with calcium, helps strengthen bones and tooth enamel
    • Important to not overload your body with phosphorus- at extremely high levels, it starts to affect the body's ability to absorb other important nutrients
  • manganese
    • helps the superoxide your body produces to kill pathogens and infections not kill you
  • magnesium
    • essential for the functioning of virtually every cell type in your body
    • If using only dietary sources, and not supplements, nearly impossible to overdose, as kidneys are efficient at flushing it
    • Magnesium deficiency can lead to development of asthma, diabetes, and osteoporosis
  • potassium
    • nerve transmissions, healthy cardiac system, healthy nervous system- keeps brain firing, keeps muscles from contracting
  • folate
    • One of the B-vitamins (B9)
    • helps synthesize and repair DNA
    • produces healthy red blood cells and thus prevents anemia 
    • Not getting enough can lead to cancer, but can be problematic once you already have cancer (due to its proclivity for enhancing the ability of cells to regenerate, regardless of how good those cells are for you)
    • especially important for pregnant women
  • vitamin K
    • blood coagulation and bone metabolism (no idea what the latter is, but it sounds important)
  • zinc
    • structural role with protein
    • eyes and brain function
    • metabolism of DNA and RNA
    • reproductive systems
  • thiamine
    • B1
    • breaks down sugars in the diet
    • aids the nervous system and heart
Final Note: this is my own loose research. Think of it as Wikipedia when starting a research paper- it gives you a general framework, but you are better off sticking to the experts for actual usable data. 

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