Types Of Beans

A Complete Guide to Types of Beans

All types of beans are in a class of vegetables called legumes, even though they are often referred to separately as vegetables and legumes. Peas and lentils and other veggies are also in this category, and for the most part, legumes are extremely healthy and good for you. They are low fat, have no cholesterol, and are filled with lots of protein, fiber and folate, as well as the minerals, iron, potassium, and magnesium.

Unlike many other foods, there were very few types of beans in existence before the Americas were discovered. You could find mung, fava, soy, and the French haricot, and all of these beans are still eaten in huge quantities in many countries. But, when the Americas were discovered, the settlers found that the indigenous people living there have many other types of beans in use. All of the most popular beans eaten today in the United States originated in North America. These include all of the string beans, lima beans and kidney beans.

Some beans are eaten just as they are when they are harvested but other types of beans, such as broad beans are extracted from pods. Wax beans, as well as snake, runner, and string are eaten as a whole pod. If you have ever looked at an overgrown green or yellow bean in your garden, you know they start to develop very large seeds that look like other types of beans.

You can buy beans at the store as fresh, canned, frozen or dried. The dried beans can be stored for a long time--these include lima, lentils, navy, pinto, red kidney, soy and others. For vegetarians, all of these types of beans make a great substitute for meat, because they are very high in protein. Many vegetarian foods you can buy at the supermarket are made from soybeans. You can find soy burgers, sausage, bacon, hot dogs and soy milk is one of the most popular substitutes for dairy products.

If you are trying to eat healthier, all types of beans can make an excellent choice. They contain lots of fiber which helps to clean out the digestive track. They are a great source of B-complex vitamins and folic acid, which is especially good for women who are pregnant, because it is key to the health of babies. Some beans are even colored, and these are full of antioxidants, which have been shown to boost the immune system, protecting against certain types of cancer and heart disease.

Add any of the types of beans to your diet and you will be adding valuable nutrition that you may not be getting from other foods. Some people want to eat more beans but cannot figure out how to add them easily to meals. Kids often love to have tacos which you can fill with beans, lettuce, tomatoes and other toppings. Beans are easy to add to casseroles as well as soups and stews.

Black beans, chickpeas, and soy beans can all be added to salads. You can also make cold summer salads to go with cooking on the grill or picnics. Three-bean salads are often used in this way. Beans also can be a good choice for making dips for veggies or chips. While making homemade baked beans is a time-consuming process, once you do you will never want to eat canned baked beans again. Farmers markets are a great place to look for people selling homemade baked beans and you often see community baked bean dinners advertised.

If you increase your intake of beans suddenly, be sure to drink plenty of water to keep your digestive system on track.