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Functional Food Super Hero #7 The Mighty Black Bean

160414_TSF_FBPostBeans, beans the magical fruit, the more you eat, the more you…ahem. Thanks Bart Simpson.

Yes, beans can have that affect on the digestive system – especially with those who eat them infrequently (or if you suffer IBS or have some serious FODMAP intolerance). But you may just find, the more you include these power packed, super affordable wonder foods into your diet, the less you may begin to react.

And then you can reap all the benefits.

Legitimately magical. And technically a fruit.

Whilst often considered in a food category of its own, beans are technically a fruit. Who knew? This is along with avocado, cucumber, tomato, pumpkin and other unsuspecting fruit groupies.

The black bean, also known as turtle bean, is a star performer among the beans. It is has a medium glycaemic load, and an amazing source of folate – needed for DNA and red blood cell synthesis, as well as recycle proteins for continued use in a variety of functions.

It provides good amounts of magnesium, which we are endlessly deficient in nowadays, due to a lack of dietary intake, and being in high demand from stress, resulting in decreased muscle function, fatigue and mood imbalance.

Protein packed

Black beans are a complete protein, meaning they contain all of the essential amino acids we are not able to create internally ourselves, supporting our immune system, neurological health, muscle synthesis and more.

One cup of this mighty bean can give 30% of your daily protein intake requirement. It can be a great, filling and affordable substitute to meat in dishes soups or burritos, or added to meat dishes to make them go further. Awesome!

Fighting free radicals

It’s dark black colour indicates high levels of antioxidants, needed to quench free radicals exerting damage to our cells and tissues that contribute to ageing, scarring and conditions such as artery plaque build up and metabolic syndrome.

Supporting bowel health

Beans in general are renowned for their stellar fibre content. The insoluble fibre not only keeps the bowel regular, minimising risk for conditions such as ulcerative colitis and bowel cancer, but also feeds those beneficial gut microbes. The soluble fibre leaves you feeling fuller for longer, and helps stabilise blood glucose levels, offering slow release of energy to burn.

Get your bean on!

Black beans are inexpensive and easy to store – either dried or pre-soaked in tins. If you do not have much in the way of beans or legumes in your diet currently, start including them slowly, perhaps once or twice a week initially. Your body will adjust eventually to the increased fibre content, but eternally grateful for it!

Top tip!

To minimise the gaseous side effects, soak dried black beans overnight, rinse well, and cook for 45-60minutes in a fresh water. This helps break down some of the indigestible oligosaccharides that our gut bacteria struggle to digest for us (and when they can’t digest something, it generally sits in the intestine and ferments, creating gas. Lovely).

Endless delicious black bean inclusive feasts await you. Here are some ideas for inspiration:

  • Mexican spiced black bean tortillas, or added into an enchilada or nacho sauce mix
  • Hearty black bean and sweet potato salad
  • Black bean and quinoa burger patties
  • Spice coated and oven roasted for a quick crunchy snack
  • Puree with a little salt, olive oil, lime, cumin and garlic for a dip or spread in a wrap
  • Add to soups, to add fibre, protein, and to thicken
  • Black bean brownies (sounds crazy, but it works. Google it!)

On a final note – some people are very sensitive to beans or legumes, namely those enduring irritable bowel syndrome, or those with sensitivities to FODMAP (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols) containing foods. In this case, it is up to you to see how much you can tolerate. Please check in with your healthcare practitioner if you have concerns.

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