A Quick Guide to Beans and Other Legumes

The versatility of beans and other legumes makes them an ideal choice for side dishes, soups, stews, and salads. They also make great dips and salsas: For example, chickpeas can be the base for a healthy hummus and black beans are delicious in a tomato and avocado salsa.

All legumes can be eaten on all Phases of the South Beach Diet. Purchase them fresh, dried, frozen, or canned, and start with 1/3 to 1/2 cup serving daily. Avoid canned beans or other legumes that contain sugar, lard, or molasses, and look for lower-sodium versions as well. Draining and rinsing canned legumes before using also helps reduce sodium.

Beans and other legumes are extremely nutritious and can help improve your health. Here’s how:

  • All legumes are a major source of protein, which is necessary for the building and repair of tissues, for boosting metabolism, and keeping your appetite under control.
  • All legumes are a good source of soluble fiber, which helps to remove cholesterol from the intestines before it’s absorbed.
  • The fiber in beans and other legumes also slows digestion and, as a result, helps keep blood sugar swings under control.
  • In addition to providing protein and fiber, legumes are good a source of folate, potassium, iron, calcium, and B vitamins.
Some of the most popular legumes are:
  • Adzuki beans
  • Black beans
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Butter beans
  • Cannellini beans
  • Chickpeas (garbanzos)
  • Cranberry beans
  • Fava beans
  • Great Northern beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Lentils
  • Lima beans
  • Navy beans
  • Pigeon beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Soybeans (edamame)
  • Split peas
  • White beans
Experiment to find your favorites!

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