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You know the deal – beans are pretty darn good for your heart, and the more you eat, the more you…
Enjoy yourself! What did you think we were going to say?
And, with beans, there’s certainly plenty to enjoy.
The world thankfully knows of more than 400 delicious varieties of these culture-hopping delights, which show up as staples in ethnic dishes in nearly every country on every inhabitable continent on earth.
And with the help of the swelling plant-based movement, these protein-packed wonders are finding even more places in our recipes – used in everything from the usual soups and salads to decadent desserts like brownies and blondies. (Really!)
Incredible how something so common can be so worldly!
What’s In A Name?
As you go over the list, you might find yourself wondering, “Wait, I thought some of these were actually legumes?” And we’re here to tell you: They all are!
In fact, getting labeled as legumes simply means these little beauties sprout in pods. So technically, all beans are legumes. (Not all legumes are beans, however! We’re looking at you, Black-Eyed Peas.)
But enough with semantics. We think these popular types of beans are pretty darn awesome, no matter what they’re called.
Perhaps the most popular type of bean of all, these beauties don’t just bring incredible flavor to an enormous variety of fare – they bring all matter of nutrition!
A brief list of black bean benefits include iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and, of course, fiber. All told, that adds up to help with digestion and weight loss, protection against heart disease and even brighter teeth, stronger bones, and better hair.
Plus, they taste pretty darn good in a taco.
Sometimes called white kidney beans thanks to their color and shape, these legumes typically show up in more Mediterranean fare, and rock a nice, meaty texture that makes them perfect for cooking and stewing.
You can also count on cannellini for some pretty awesome health benefits, like large amounts of magnesium, protein and fiber.
Chickpeas (AKA Garbanzo Beans)
Another one of the most popular types of beans out there, thanks, in no small part, to their contributions to hummus, chickpeas shouldn’t be overlooked for their power to make falafel so yummy, or play a delicious role in a number of classic curry dishes.
They should also certainly not be overlooked for their ability to bring some serious healthy stuff into the mix, like a big dose of folate, fiber, iron, phosphorous, and, of course, protein, making them incredible good for blood cholesterol maintenance.
Not just part of a creepy Hannibal Lecter quote. (And if you don’t know what we’re talking about – probably all the better!)
These are one of the most finicky beans to actually get to, as their pod takes quite some convincing to be separated from its baby legumes. But once they’re freed, fava beans are uniquely delicious, and good for delivering everything from fiber to a number of B vitamins.
Coming in all sorts of colors, these incredible beans also offer sensational texture to any dish.
Once cooked, they’re almost creamy, making even a vegan-friendly soup seem rich and delectable. And on top of that, vegans – and, everyone really – can enjoy a huge amount of lentil-based health benefits, including a number of helpful antioxidants that can work to ease inflammation and the all-important (and not super easy to find) mineral, folate.
They might be named after the Peruvian capital, but these full-bodied beans are also a hit in the American South, where they’re more often referred to as Butter Beans.
The delicious crop has a firm-but-creamy bite that holds up well under cooking pressure. Just make sure these beans are always served cooked – eating raw lima beans, besides hurting your teeth, could cause some real health issues.
You may know these best from their appearance in many Asian stir-fry recipes, where they’re typically cooked after releasing white, crunchy and refreshing shoots from their tiny pea pods.
But aside from adding some delicious texture, these babies pack on the nutritional benefits, including a healthy serving of potassium, magnesium, folate and vitamin B.
Another bean that needs to be cooked in order to avoid some unfortunate gastrointestinal reactions, kidney beans are otherwise one of the most nutrient-dense examples out there, rocking fat dollops of protein, potassium, calcium, and fiber.
The thick red beauties also hold up especially well when cooked, which makes them a popular choice for slowly-stewed dishes like chili. (And yes, we believe that real chili can include beans!)
Perhaps unsurprisingly, these beans have been used for decades to help keep U.S. sailors well-fed on long journeys.
That’s thanks, in part, to their lovely taste and texture, which cooks up nice and creamy, but also because of their mixture of iron and fiber at a cost of next-to-no fat, which helps with everything from keeping blood cholesterol and sugar levels down to keeping energy levels up.
Keeping up with the color-coded theme, these beans are graciously familiar for anyone acquainted with Southern cooking of the United States, where they’re especially popular in Creole cuisine.
And thank goodness for that, because these small, round wonders taste good not only in savory dishes, but have a subtle sweetness that lends itself to a number of healthy dessert options.
They really are the magical fruit!