Included in this category are black, haricot, kidney, lima, mung, Pinto, and string ( French or snap) beans. These are all different varieties of the common bean (note that unless otherwise designated they are variants of (Phaseolus vulgaris). Common beans are quite versatile, as they can be prepared in a variety of ways.
Black beans are about the size of a pea, oval, and jet black. They have cream-colored ﬂesh; a mild, sweet, earthy taste; and a soft texture. Black beans are widely used throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, and the southern United States.
Haricot beans are pea-sized beans that are creamy white in color. They are mild—ﬂavored, dense, and creamy.
Just as its name suggests, the kidney bean is shaped like a kidney. Since these dark red beans hold their shape during cooking and readily absorb tag, surrounding ﬂavors, they are a favorite bean to use in simmered dishes. Kidney beans that are white in color are known Pinto Beans as cannellini beans.
Lima Beans (Butter Beans)
The lima bean (Phaseolus limensis) is thought to be named after Lima, Peru, the area where it was ﬁrst cultivated. Lima beans are most often associated with succotash, a traditional Native American dish that combines this delicious bean with corn. While there are many varieties of lima beans, the ones that are most popular in the United States are the Fordhook, commonly known as the butter bean, and the baby lima bean. Likewise, the most common lima bean in the U.K. is the butter bean.
The pod of the lima bean is ﬂat, oblong, and slightly curved, averaging about 3 inches/7 centimeters in length. Within the pod reside two to four ﬂat kidney-shaped seeds, which are what we generally refer to as lima beans. The seeds are most often cream or green in color, although certain varieties have white, red, purple, brown, or black seeds. Lima beans feature a starchy, potato like taste and a grainy, yet slightly buttery, texture.
The mung bean (Phaseolus aureus) is native to India but has been cultivated in China and Southeast Asia for more than 7,000 years. Most mung beans are consumed as bean sprouts. Supermarkets often have a ready supply of fresh mung bean sprouts, or you can sprout your own. Mung bean sprouts are most often used in salads, with stir-fried vegetables, and in Asian dishes.
Pinto beans have a beige background strewn with reddish brown splashes of color. They are like little painted canvases, hence their name “pinto, which in Spanish means “painted.” When cooked, their colored splotches disappear and they become a beautiful pink color, with a delightfully creamy texture.
String Beans (Snap or French Beans)
The string, French or snap bean is different from the other members of the common bean family in that the entire bean, both pod and seed, can be eaten. String beans vary in size, but they usually average 4 inches/ 10 centimeters in length. They are usually deep emerald green in color and come to a slight point at either end. They contain tiny seeds within their thin pods.
1. Health Benefits of Apples
2. Health Benefits of Bananas
3. Health Benefits of Honey
4. Health Benefits of Ginger
5. Health Benefits of Garlic
6. Health Benefits of Lemon
7. Health Benefits of Pumpkin
8. Health Benefits of Watermelons
1. 25 Sexual Questions to Ask A Girl
2. 45 Things a Girl Wants But Wont Ask For
3. 10 Things You’re Doing that are Killing Your Kidneys
4. 25 Really Romantic Ideas to Make Your Lover Melt!
5. 60 Really Sweet Things To Say To A Girl
6. 19 Things Women in Relationships Must Not Do
7. 20 Things Women Should Never, Ever, Do
8. Top 20 Things Men Should Never, Ever, Do
History of Beans
All of the varieties of Phaseolus vulgaris originated in Peru more than 7,000 years ago and were spread by migrating bands of Native Americans into Latin and North America. The early European explorers and settlers of the ﬁfteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries were introduced to these beans by the natives.
In fact, the basic recipes for Boston baked beans and succotash were derived from those used by Native Americans. Common beans were then introduced into Europe in the ﬁfteenth century by Spanish explorers returning from their voyages to the New World. They were subsequently spread to Africa and Asia by Spanish and Portuguese traders.
As common beans are a very inexpensive protein source, they have become popular in many cultures throughout the world. Today, the largest commercial producers of dried common beans are India, China, Indonesia, Brazil, and the United States.
Nutritional Highlights of Beans
The key nutritional beneﬁts of common beans are quite similar to those discussed above for soybeans except that they are much lower in fat content—usually only 1 to 2 percent. Their protein content and quality are quite similar, though.
Common beans also offer an excellent source of complex carbohydrate and ﬁber. They are a very good source of folic acid and molybdenum. They are also a good source of phosphorus, iron, protein, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.
Health Benefits of Beans
The major health beneﬁt of common beans is their rich source of cholesterol-lowering ﬁber. In addition to lowering cholesterol, the high ﬁber content of beans prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance, or hypoglycemia.
Common beans’ contribution to heart health lies not just in their ﬁber but in the signiﬁcant amounts of antioxidants, folic acid, vitamin B6, and magnesium they supply. Folic acid and B6 help lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is an intermediate product in an important metabolic process called the methylation cycle. Elevated blood levels of homocysteine are an independent risk factor for heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease and are found in 20 to 40 percent of patients with heart disease.
According to studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, richly colored dried beans offer a high degree of antioxidant protection. In fact, small red kidney beans are rated the highest, just ahead of blueberries. Beans are also protective against cancer. In one analysis of dietary data collected by validated food frequency questionnaires in 1991 and 1995 from 90,630 women in the Nurses’ Health Study II, researchers found a signiﬁcantly reduced frequency of breast cancer in the women who had a higher intake of common beans or lentils.
That was not surprising; what was surprising was that only beans and lentils seemed to offer protection. Intake of tea, onions, apples, string beans, broccoli, green pepper, or blueberries had no protective effect. Eating beans or lentils two or more times per week was associated with a 24 percent reduced risk of breast cancer.
How to Select and Store Beans
Some beans, such as lima beans (butter beans) and string beans (French or snap beans), are available dried, fresh, or frozen. Obviously, fresh in their pods is preferred. Choose those that are ﬁrm, dark green, and glossy; free of blemishes, wrinkling, and yellowing. If lima beans have been shelled, you should inspect them carefully, since they are extremely perishable.
Look for those with tender skins that are green or greenish white in color and do not have any signs of mould or decay. If you choose to purchase frozen beans, shake the container to make sure that the beans move freely and do not seem to be clumped together, since the latter suggests that they have been thawed and then refrozen.
Dried black, haricot, kidney, lima (butter), mung, pinto, and string beans are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as in bulk. Just as with any other food that you purchase in the bulk section, make sure the bins are covered and that the shop has a good product turnover rate.
Whether purchasing dried beans in bulk or in a prepackaged container, make sure there is no evidence of moisture or insect damage and that the beans are whole and not cracked. Store dried beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place, where they will keep for up to twelve months.
All of the common beans can be found canned in most markets. Look for those that do not contain extra salt or additives. Cooked beans will keep fresh in the refrigerator for about three days if placed in a covered container.
Tips for Preparing Beans
- Before washing dried beans, spread them out on a light-colored plate or cooking surface to check for and remove stones and damaged beans.
- After this process, place the beans in a sieve and rinse them thoroughly under cool running water. It is important to follow the packet instructions regarding the soaking and cooking of kidney beans to ensure that the toxins contained within them are removed.
- To shorten their cooking time and make them easier to digest, dried common beans should be presoaked.
- To cook dried common beans, you can either cook them on the stove or use a pressure cooker.
- For the stove top method, add 21/2 to 4 cups of fresh water or stock for each cup of beans. The liquid should be about 1 to 2 inches/21/2 to 5 centimeters above the top of the beans. Bring the beans to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, partially covering the pot. If any foam develops, simply skim it off during the simmering process.
Quick Serving Ideas of Beans
- Combine cooked kidney beans with black beans and white (haricot) beans to make a colorful three-bean salad. Mix with tomatoes and spring onions, and dress with olive oil, lemon juice, and black pepper.
- Serve cooked beans over a piece of corn bread and top with grated cheese.
- In a food processor or blender, combine cooked beans with garlic, cumin, and chili peppers for a delicious spread that can be used as a crudité dip or sandwich ﬁlling.
- Make tacos with a vegetarian twist by using cooked beans in place of minced meat.
- Mix puréed cooked beans with chopped garlic and your favorite fresh herbs. Use this spread as a sandwich ﬁlling or a dip for crudités.
- The heartiness of common beans makes them great soup beans, especially when added to a soup that features root vegetables, such as carrots, turnips, beets, and swedes.
- Blend cooked beans and sweet potatoes together. Serve this tasty dish on a plate accompanied by your favorite grain and fresh vegetable.
- Add cooked and cooled beans to a salad of leeks and chard, and top with rosemary vinaigrette.
Common beans can cause severe allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Common beans also contain moderate amounts of purines. Since purines can be broken down to form uric acid, excess accumulation of purines in the body can lead to excess accumulation of uric acid. As such, individuals who are susceptible to purine-related problems, such as gout and kidney stones, may want to limit or avoid intake of common beans.
Lima beans (butter beans) also contain large amounts of oxalate. Individuals with a history of oxalate-containing kidney stones should avoid over consuming them.