Beans have suffered an image problem for years. This is only partly due to the infamous kids' rhymes; since our culture went low-carb crazy, beans took a hit because some are relatively high in carbs. But research has shown that the fiber and phytochemicals in beans can help reduce cholesterol, prevent peaks in blood sugar following a meal and, most recently, that eating beans may protect against weight gain. If you avoid beans because of gas trouble, use these strategies: first, rinse canned beans well to get rid of some of the starch and reduce sodium content; try using the product Beano, which helps digest the problem substances; and incorporate more beans into your diet gradually, and your body will adapt.
Experiment with beans you've never tried before –– the variety is endless. And keep a bean salad full of chopped vegetables in the fridge for a quick and easy snack or side dish.
Reviewed by Francine Kaufman, MD. 4/08
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