Beans beans the musical fruit…

So we’ve all heard how the saying goes and we’ve all sniggered at it, but in all seriousness all kinds of beans along with other pulses (such as lentils and peas) definitely have a place in our diets.

All pulses are an excellent source of fibre; fibre is a type of carbohydrate but it doesn’t get digested by enzymes in the small intestine and therefore its sugar units aren’t absorbed into the bloodstream. And it’s this which causes the infamous gas!! However, despite their windy side effects, high fibre diets (for example those which contain beans) are associated with a reduced risk of both heart disease and type 2 diabetes; this in itself is a fantastic reason why it’s worth sticking pulses on your weekly shopping list.

Pulses offer a great way of bulking out a meal for both meat eaters and vegetarians alike. They’re also low fat, rich in protein and iron and can add real texture and taste to big dishes such as casseroles and currys. A cheap food, pulses are available either dried or canned and ready to eat. Of course canned ones are very convenient but just take care to select those which have no sugar or salt added. In addition, both kidney and soya beans contain toxins so it’s essential that if using the dried version of these, they are prepared properly.

A portion of beans (or other pulses) is roughly 3 heaped tablespoons – and counts towards 1 of your 5 a day. Regardless of how many spoonfuls you eat however, it will only ever count as 1 serving and this is because they don’t contain the same mixture of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that fruit and veg contain. However this excludes green beans such as broad/runner beans which are a vegetable and not a bean or other pulse.

In summary the benefits of eating beans far outweigh the negatives so the next time you feel guilty at having a quick dinner of beans on toast because you can’t be bothered to cook yourself ‘a proper meal’, don’t give yourself too much of a hard time 🙂