The nutritional value of beans

With the cooperation of Signature with Georgia Kapoli, MSc Clinical Dietician - Nutritionist, Scientific Director APISCHNANSIS -LOGO DIATROFIS, Nemea Korinthia, Vice President of the Hellenic Nutritionists Society - www.logodiatrofis.gr, www.activekids.gr, www.care24.gr

Beans, like all legumes, have 2 very important characteristics which make them one of the main foods in the Mediterranean diet: on the one hand they are low in calories and fat and on the other hand they are very rich in nutrients such as protein, potassium, B complex vitamins (folate, thiamine / B1), fiber and iron.

More specifically, they offer the following dietary benefits:
  • They are good for the heart: Beans are especially good sources of fiber and also help to prevent type 2 diabetes as they keep blood glucose levels constant after eating. A diet which is rich in fiber reduces the risk of heart disease and also helps to eliminate fat from the intestine.
  • They are essential during pregnancy: Beans are rich in folic acid which plays a vital role in generating genetic material and making cells. Because of this it is vital for pregnant women to eat enough folic acid as it reduces the risk of genetic disorders of the spinal cord and brain. However, folic acid is also necessary at all ages, since everyone needs it to produce enough red blood cells to avoid anemia developing.
  • Fight fatigue: Beans have a high thiamine (vitamin B1) content. Thiamine plays a key role in how our metabolism reacts in energy production, brain function, memory and cognitive abilities.

“Giant” beans (gigantes) are a special type of beans which, as well as all the properties mentioned above, are also particularly rich in:
  • Protein: Giant beans can provide the body with protein of equivalent value to that of meat, without the "bad" saturated fat which is associated with cardiovascular disease. The absorption of plant iron from giant beans is greatly increased when these beans are combined with foods such as rice. More specifically, a cup of giant beans contains almost 15 grams of protein.
  • Iron: Giant beans provide our systems with energy as they help to replenish the body’s stores of iron. Specifically, 1 cup of giant beans provides 24.9% of the daily iron requirement. Iron is an important component of hemoglobin which carries oxygen from the lungs to all the cells in the body. It also plays a key role in energy production and in our metabolisms. It is important for pregnant women, children and teenagers to eat giant beans as they have an increased need of iron.
  • Manganese: Giant beans are also a very good source of the trace element manganese. Manganese strengthens the body's antioxidant defense as it is a key component of chemical reactions that neutralize "toxic" free radicals. 
Dietary analysis of Palirria products which contain beans: 

1) Palirria Giant Beans Yiaxni: The finest giant beans and finely chopped tomatoes cooked with fresh dill and parsley. Cooking the giant beans with tomatoes and herbs leads to a dish which is particularly rich in antioxidants. This is because, during the cooking, the tomato plant cell membrane is destroyed meaning that the antioxidant lycopene in the tomato is released and activated. In addition, tomatoes are rich in antioxidant vitamin C which enhances the body’s ability to absorb the iron present in the beans. 

Nutritional analysis of the recipe 
  • Low in sugars (since it contains less than 5g of sugars per 100g)
  • Provides 20% of the recommended daily dietary fiber requirements (good source).
  • A good source of protein, since 14% of the energy value of the food is provided by protein.

1) Giant beans with red and green peppers in a vinaigrette sauce: Eating the beans with peppers supplies the body with important antioxidants in the carotenoid (β-carotene) category. These are vitamin A precursors which are required for vision, healthy skin and for strengthening the body's defense system. In particular, skin is our primary protective shield which prevents microbes from entering the body. An adequate intake of carotenoids helps in the synthesis of vitamin A which is essential for the production of proteins that ensure healthy skin. 

Nutritional analysis of the recipe 
  • Good source of fibres as provides 30% of the recommended daily dietary fiber requirements.
  • Low in sugars (since it contains less than 5g of sugars per 100g)

3) Giant Beans Yiaxni with spinach in a tomato sauce with a mixture of herbs (oregano, basil and thyme): This is a particularly nutritious meal as the combination of spinach and giant beans provides the body with a considerable amount of iron. In particular, a cup covers about a third of the daily recommendation for women and almost the entire quantity recommended for men. This is particularly good for vegetarians. At the same time, the tomato sauce, together with the giant beans and herbs, supplies the body with potassium and fiber, helping to fight cramps and constipation, and controlling blood pressure. 

Nutritional analysis of the recipe 
  • Low in saturated "bad" fats (as it contains less than 1.5g of saturated fats per 100g).
  • Provides 20% of the recommended daily dietary fiber requirements (good source).
  • Low in sugars (since it contains less than 5g of sugars per 100g)

4) Giant Beans Yiaxni with fetajuicy tomatoes, olive oil, fresh dill and parsley: A nutritious meal that supplies the body with phytoestrogens and calcium which helps to protect our bones. This makes giant beans with feta an excellent meal, particularly for menopausal women. In addition, it contains important antioxidants from the tomatoes, herbs and olive oil: vitamins C, E, and flavonoids, which protect against cardiovascular diseases and various forms of cancer. It is also important to note that it provides B vitamins that improve the body’s metabolism and its ability to produce energy. 

Nutritional analysis of the recipe 
  • Low in saturated "bad" fats (as it contains less than 1.5g of saturated fats per 100g).
  • Provides 21% of the recommended daily dietary fiber requirements (good source).
  • Low in sugars (since it contains less than 5g of sugars per 100g)
5) Black-eyed beans with rice and multicoloured peppers: The rice and beans contain low biological value proteins, meaning they do not contain all the amino acids. In particular, the rice does not contain lysine and the beans do not contain methionine. Because of this, combining them improves the dish’s amino acid profile and increases the amount of protein we can absorb from this meal. 

Nutritional analysis of the recipe 

Black-eyed beans and kidney beans with rice and multicoloured peppers:
  • 1 cup provides 20% of the recommended daily amount of magnesium, calcium and iron.
  • 100gr. of this dish provides 7% of the recommended daily intake of protein for men and 9% for women.
  • Provides 12% of the recommended daily dietary fiber requirements (good source).
  • Low in sugars (since it contains less than 5g of sugars per 100g)