Peruvian Superfoods: Beans

Beans have been around for centuries and are often part of the Peruvian diet. The most common beans are black, canary, fava, and lima beans. Beans are very nutritious, but many people are hesitant to eat them because of the possibility of intestinal upset. Beans have the tendency to cause gas because they contain a sugar called raffinose, which is a fiber that cannot be digested. However, there is a way to consume these beans without the fear of having gas. By soaking these beans in water for 4 hours or overnight, the indigestible sugar will be pulled out of the beans and into the water, which can then be discarded. Then bring the beans to a boil in a new pot of water for one minute and discard the water when done. The beans are now ready to cook.

In Peru, beans are very popular in home cooking. They are often used to make menestra, which are bean stews and soups (like the Italian minestrone). Menestras are so popular that almost every mother, regardless of social class and training, has a menestra family recipe in her collection and every child can recall having this dish while growing up. In addition to soups and stew, beans can be eaten on their own or in salads and tacos.

Health benefits of beans include anticancer, gut healthy, heart healthy, helps control diabetes, and lowers cholesterol.

Beans are rich in fiber, which can significantly lower the risk of developing diabetes, certain gastrointestinal diseases, heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and stroke. Fiber can improve blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity in non-diabetic and diabetic individuals. It can also significantly enhance weight loss efforts, which is beneficial for all individuals including diabetics. Increased fiber intake is also beneficial in several gastrointestinal disorders such as acid reflux disease, constipation, diverticulitis, duodenal ulcer, and hemorrhoids.

Beans can help lower blood pressure and serum cholesterol levels, which can be beneficial for a healthy heart. Legumes are compounds that bolster the immune system, which also lowers cholesterol levels as well as blood glucose response and protects against cancers.

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