Beans 101 – Health and History
Beans are one of nature’s ultimate power foods. They are high in protein, anti-oxidents, fiber, minerals and folate.
Beans are a heart healthy alternative source of protein to cheese or beef.
To obtain 14 grams of protein (1/4 DV) you must eat:
2 ounces of cheddar cheese which has 18 grams of fat (4 teaspoons), or
2 ounces of broiled lean ground beef which has 10 grams of fat. Or
You could eat one cup of beans which are almost fat free.
Here is a study on WebMD about weight loss among bean eaters.
Red beans rank #1 in antioxidents, black beans #18 according to USDA:
History of Beans
Origins in Native American Civilizations
The ancestors of the common dry beans used today (such as pinto, black, and red) were developed by ancient Native American civilizations several thousand years ago*. For example, archaeologists have found that the Peruano bean predates the Inca empire by about three thousand years. Beans were central to the cultural and nutritional life of Native American civilizations. The Moshe Indians, who were predecessors of the Inca, used a form of bean writing which remains undeciphered. (The bean writing is replicated below and in the theme of this website).
In the Southwest U.S., there is a Native American tribe known as the Papago, which means “The Bean People” in their language.
Mezo-America civilizations developed the black bean among others and they remain a popular bean in the Caribbean to this day. Mezo-American agriculture consisted of the “three sisters”–beans, corn and squash–which create a complete nutritional package.
The Bean Diaspora
The Spanish brought “new” world dry beans along with corn, tomatoes, pepper, potatoes, chocolate and cotton back to the “old” world. Beans became a central part of the cuisine of Italy, Spain and France. Many gourmet dishes made with beans come from those countries. For example, one of the most popular beans in Tuscany, the Borlotti, was originally the Cargamento bean from Colombia. Beans are so important to Tuscan cuisine that they refer to themselves as the mangiafagioli – “the bean eaters.”
Beans are high in fiber, protein and anti-oxidants. Combined with grains they form a complete protein. Enjoy this wonderful nutritional gift to us from Native American civilizations.
* Note, there are a few “cousins” of the common dry bean that originated outside the new world. Among those are the Fava Bean in Europe, the Chickpea in the Middle East, the Black Eye Pea from Africa and the Soy and Mung beans from Asia.