Beans are omnipresent in every kind of kitchen across the globe. They are a great vegetarian source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They are one of the most affordable and nutritious food items that humans consume in their day to day life. Beans are basically the seeds of flowering plants in the Fabaceae family. Many of us interchange the word bean with legumes but a bean is a legume but every legume is not a bean. A legume is a broader term which includes beans, peas, and pulses (lentils). There are many different types of beans in the world.
Types Of Beans
As we understood, beans are a subset of legumes. Commonly, beans are classified as dry beans and fresh green beans. Dry beans are basically seeds obtained when the green bean pods are allowed to mature and eventually dry down and then harvested as dry beans. Examples of dry beans are pinto beans, navy beans, kidney beans, black beans, etc. Dry beans have higher protein and fiber value as compared to fresh green beans.
Green beans are categorized into two types of beans plant, Pole and Bush, on the basis of the growing habits.
● Bush bean plants grow in a compact form and grow about two feet in length (height). They do not require any support to grow. So, they can be grown easily in your terrace or balcony garden. Examples of bush beans are blue lake bush, Roma II, Kentucky wonder bush, Masai, etc. They generate all their beans in two weeks.
● Pole beans grow large and need support to grow. They grow 10 – 15 feet long. They yield beans for a month or two if you keep harvesting them. Examples of pole beans are butter beans, romano beans, lazy housewife beans, and others.
Different Varieties of Beans
You will be surprised to know that there are more than 40,000 Types of beans in the world. But only a few dominate the scenario because of the mass production and some of these are Kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, navy beans, chickpeas, French green beans, snow peas, Lima, etc. Around 400 varieties of dry beans are grown commercially throughout the world.
Let’s discuss some of the common varieties of beans consumed all over the
- Adzuki bean: It is a Himalayan native, now grown across the Asian continent. It is a small, rounded red bean and has a white thread-like part along the seam. It is slightly sweet and starchy in nature.
- Anasazi bean: It is a new world native and is slightly sweet in taste. It is a white speckled bean with burgundy to rust-brown.
- Appaloosa bean: It is slightly elongated, curved, one end white and the other end mottled with black-brown color. It is a new world native bean.
- Black bean: It is also a new world naive bean. It is very popular in many countries. It is shiny and black when uncooked. It has a very creamy texture once cooked.
- Cannellini bean: also known as white kidney bean. It is native to Argentina. It is creamy in texture with a slightly nutty taste.
- Cranberry bean: It is also known as Roman or Borlotti bean. It is a white bean with red specks.
- Great northern beans: are a type of white bean. They are very popular in America. They are also called Common beans.
- Kidney beans: also known as red beans are one of the top contenders in the list of favorite beans. They are eaten in various cuisines from mexican to indian and from American to African.
- Mung bean: also known as Moong or Maash is a green colored bean eaten mainly in Asian and Indian cuisine.
- Navy bean: also referred as White haricot or Boston bean. It is a dry white bean. They have a very creamy texture once cooked therefore used in stews, soups, dips, etc.
- Pinto beans: are very common in Mexico, the USA, and Spain. They are also known as painted beans or mottled beans due to the speckled pattern on the outer skin.
- Snow peas: snow peas are fresh green beans and they are resistant to cold temperature hence got their name snow peas. Also known as chinese peas.
- Soybeans: are a variety of legume native to East Asia. It is highly nutritious and used for the production of soy milk and tofu. It is the only bean which contains all nine essential amino acids. Therefore, it is a complete protein.
- Snap peas: snap peas are a cross between snow peas and green peas. The edible pods are thinner, less fibrous and more sweeter than other peas. They are a common independent of famous thai curry and many salads.
- Lima beans: are native to Peru and named after the capital city of Peru, Lima. They are a good source of folate, iron and magnesium. They have a buttery texture after cooking that’s why they are used in many stews and soups.
Also Read: Top 7 Amazing Health Benefits Of Cabbage
What Are The Health Benefits of Beans?
Beans are usually referred to as Poor man’s protein. But it is one of the easiest ,
economical food products which provides magnificent nutrition value to our body.
The health benefits of eating beans are —
★ Provides Lots Of Fiber — the different varieties of beans contain fiber in a good amount. The fiber in the bean is not broken down even after cooking. So, this fiber acts as a roughage and also absorbs LDL from the gut thus lowers cholesterol levels. Fiber is good for the digestive system too.
★ Great Source Of Protein — proteins are called the building blocks. Soybean is the only bean which contains all the nine essential amino acids. Therefore soybean and soy milk is a complete protein. This means that eating beans regularly helps in muscle development via protein provided by the types of bean we eat.
★ Boost heart health — according to different studies it is seen that eating different types of beans can lower the levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) by 5% and also reduces the chance of cardiovascular diseases too. Beans are also a great source of potassium (maintains blood pressure) and magnesium (helps in nerve function and blood pressure regulation) which plays an important role in maintaining heart health.
★ Control diabetes — you take any type of bean and check its glycemic index. You will find that they are placed in medium to low glycemic index range. Therefore, they do not affect the blood sugar levels erratically. Beans help in keeping your blood sugar steady. Therefore it helps in controlling diabetes.
★ Helps in fighting against cancer — beans are rich in antioxidants therefore protects your cells against free radical damage.
★ Helps in weight loss — as we all know that different types of beans are known to be a great source of protein and fiber which are crucial for weight loss. Well eating meals that are full of protein and fiber keeps you full for longer periods. Therefore helps in weight loss as well as muscle development.
★ Prevents Anemia — as we know that iron deficiency is a prominent cause of anemia across the globe. Beans are a very good source of iron . Thus eating beans with foods that are rich in vitamin C helps in overcoming anemia caused by nutritional deficiency like iron and folate.
Benefits Of Beans
Other than health benefits of beans, benefits of beans include —
● Cost effective
● Easy to transport
● Essential part of any dry survival kits during disaster management
● Nutritious and healthy
● Gluten free
● Cholesterol and fat free
● Rich in folate so advised for pregnant women
● Easy to grow and cultivate. They are a great example of a commercial crop.
● Used in different forms like boiled, fried, stews, soups, etc and cuisines across the globe.
Beans may look like a day to day simple food but it is one of the most vital and universal food items which we all consume. There are different varieties of beans present around us, some of them are local and some of them are all present everywhere. But all beans are packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients too. This makes them an essential food product for every individual across any age group and across all kinds of cuisines present on this earth. So, grab your bowl of nutrition and enjoy it with rice, bread, or in salads, soups, stews, etc.