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Receiving Optimal Nutrition from Beans

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Beans are one of the healthiest foods that can be included in a balanced diet. They are excellent food choices for a healthy vegan diet because of their micronutrients, including B-vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium and zinc. Beans are rich in fiber, protein and low glycemic carbohydrates, which can help reduce the unhealthy low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and promote better weight management and blood glucose control.

While beans have abundant micronutrients, they also contain anti-nutrients. In plants, they are naturally designed to protect against bacterial infections and insects. Anti-nutrients are compounds that can block the absorption of certain essential nutrients, such as minerals.

Phytic acid acts as the main storage for phosphorus in seeds. Because phytic acid can interfere with the absorption of iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium, it can potentially lead to a mineral deficiency. It is recommended to avoid eating a big portion of foods that contain phytic acid at one meal and to incorporate a variety of foods in your diet throughout the day.

There are several preparation methods to help reduce the phytic acid content of foods. One way to lessen it is through water soaking as mentioned previously. This can greatly lower the impaired mineral absorption caused by phytic acid. Other methods can also be used in combination with soaking to increase the nutritional value of beans. Studies suggest that sprouting can reduce phytic acid by 37-81% in various types of grains and legumes, including beans. Soak them for 2-12 hours in cool, fresh water, depending on the type. Repeating the process of rinsing and draining 2-4 times a day.

Fermentation is a method that has been used since ancient times to preserve food. According to research, letting pre-soaked brown beans ferment for 48 hours can lower the content of phytic acid by 88%.

Now, we have some cooking tips for making beans more flavorful! 1. Success with a bean recipe starts with preparation. 2. By adding in a teaspoon (~5 grams) of bicarbonate soda per cup, or 180 grams, of dried beans when cooking, they will become softer and less likely to cause flatulence. 3. About three-fourths the way through cooking the beans is an optimal time for adding the other ingredients we want.
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