Friday, May 25, 2012

Food Worship #14: The Kidney Bean

Sorry folks, I know it's been a while since you've heard from the Food Guru.  I've been quite busy, but finally have a little time to sit down and discuss with all of you another of my favorite foods.  As you may or may not know, I'm a huge fan of beans.  They're a fantastic source of carbohydrates, and are absolutely DELICIOUS.  They come in all shapes and sizes, and I could honestly go for a few days rambling on about each one regarding its benefits, nutritional value, and why YOU should be eating them.  But today, I must choose only one.  And so I've made it my second favorite, as I've already written about my number one (the chickpea, or garbanzo bean.)  Today's bean of choice is....*drum roll*.....the humble kidney bean.

These medium sized beans are a little bit funny looking, being shaped like, well, kidneys.  But I assure you, they're one of the best foods you could ever put in that ever improving body of yours.  Not only are they delicious, but they have a whole host of powerful health benefits that will without a doubt make you feel (and look) absolutely amazing.  As per the usual routine, I'll now provide several bulleted categories of beneficial aspects of the bean, as any professional blogger would (despite me not actually being professional...yet.)  Let's get started, shall we?

Fiber:  First and foremost, as with a LOT of beans, kidney beans are very rich in fiber.  Fiber can help lower cholesterol and greatly improves digestive health.  It also makes your body more efficient at digesting the other foods in your diet and utilizing the nutrients in each one.  In all honesty, you want to get as much fiber in your diet as you can, ESPECIALLY if you have a high protein diet (as any muscle-head would.)  Fiber is your friend.  One cup of kidney beans will have about 220 calories and a whopping 16 grams of fiber!  That is a LOT of fiber, and will do your body a LOT of good.

Complex Carbs:  If you're looking to build muscle and have long lasting, powerful energy throughout the entire day, you need a lot of good quality, slow digesting complex carbs. In terms of carbohydrates, you can't get much higher quality than kidney beans.  They'll provide your body with exactly the energy you need, and will promote muscle growth and glycogen replenishment.  Unlike sugary carbs, complex carbs will NOT provoke as aggressive insulin response by your body and therefore will allow you to avoid unnecessary fat gain.  Kidney beans are like high octane, awesome quality fuel for your body, so eat up!

Stabilize Blood Sugar:  Not only are fiber and high quantity of complex carbs an excellent source of digestive health and long lasting energy, they also both help stabilize blood sugar, leading to less fat gain (if you're bulking up), or easier fat loss (if you're slimming down.)  Low and stable blood sugar levels are crucial to a healthy diet and trim figure, especially as you age.  

Protein Packed:  Kidney beans are absolutely LOADED with protein.  One cup has about 14 grams of protein, and while the beans themselves don't provide a complete amino acid profile (the protein in the beans isn't immediately available to your body for muscle building), when the beans are combined with a good whole grain, the amino acid profile can be completed and you'll get all the benefits of that hearty, protein packed legume.  Want the guns to impress the ladies?  Grab yourself a can of kidney beans and dig in.  

Nutritional Profile:  To wrap the rest up into one little section, kidney beans have a great nutritional profile overall.  They're very low in saturated fat, very low in sugar, and of course, if you buy the right ones, are all natural.  I love the canned beans, which have all the same nutritional benefits, but unfortunately with a bunch of added sodium.  If you get canned beans (which again, is completely FINE), make sure to rinse them thoroughly before consumption to wash the majority of that salt right down the drain.  Easy enough, right?

Here's the nutritional information for canned kidney beans:

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 cup
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 8
Calories 218
% Daily Values*
Total Fat 0.87g1%
Saturated Fat 0.128g1%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.484g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.069g
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 873mg36%
Potassium 658mg
Total Carbohydrate 39.91g13%
Dietary Fiber 16.4g66%
Sugars 0.56g
Protein 13.44g
Vitamin A 0%Vitamin C 5%
Calcium 6%Iron 18%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Nutrition Values are based on USDA Nutrient Database SR18
(Lots of sodium if left un-rinsed, so make sure to remember that step.)

All in all, kidney beans are a must-eat if you're at all concerned with health, fitness, or general well being.  They're absolutely delicious, and go well in all sorts of recipes.  Personally though, I love just eating them plain with some good spicy seasoning next to a piece of tilapia and some natural almonds.  YUMMY!  They're cheap, accessible, and ridiculously healthy.  Pick some up ASAP!

Love the kidney bean, a magical fruit, and as always, GOOD LUCK!