How to Use Beans (Legumes) on a Low-Glycemic Diet
6 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of Choosing Low-Glycemic Foods
Beans (well, actually legumes, a class of vegetables that includes dry beans, peas, and lentils) have a low-glycemic, high-fiber content that makes them a welcome addition to a low-glycemic diet.
Legumes are available in two forms: canned or dried. Simply rinse canned legumes such as garbanzo beans, black beans, or navy beans under cold running water and they’re ready to add to your favorite recipe. (Adding canned beans to soup is simple and delicious!) Dried beans require soaking and precooking before use.
Reaping the many benefits of legumes
If you’ve ever enjoyed baked beans, lentil soup, or meatless chili, you’ve reaped the benefits of legumes, which include
Low fat content
High fiber content
A good source of protein
Essential nutrients such as iron, potassium, folate, and magnesium
A low glycemic index
Dried beans and peas are great substitutes for meat because they provide protein and fiber without the cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends substituting beans for meat on a regular basis to lower the risk of heart disease. Adding fiber to your diet in the form of legumes can also help decrease the risk of cancer.
Avoiding digestive discomfort by slowly adding legumes to your diet
Legumes contain more fiber than any other type of food. Because of this, the body can’t fully digest them, which can sometimes lead to gas and bloating. The best way to avoid any legume-induced digestive discomfort is to gradually add legumes to your meals. Start with small portions of legumes once a week and gradually increase the amount you use over a period of weeks.
Try these suggestions to experiment with legumes:
Add 1/4 cup of garbanzo beans to your favorite tossed salad.
Use 1/4 cup of lentils or split peas in a rice pilaf recipe.
Include kidney beans in your favorite spaghetti sauce.
Add mashed pinto beans to tacos or enchiladas.
Make sure to also drink more water when you eat legumes to help improve digestion.