Beans, Beans, Beans! There are so many different types of beans to enjoy, and plenty of other legumes—a family of foods that includes peas, chickpeas, and lentils. And if you’re not sure where to start with a plant-based diet, beans are a good first step. They can easily be used as a substitute for animal protein on your salad, with your rice, or in your tacos! Beans are an affordable option, and easy to find at your local grocery store, dollar store, farmers market, or food pantry.
Beans are great for keeping your heart healthy. They’re low in fat and have no saturated fat, trans fat, or cholesterol. They also contain fiber, protein, iron, and other nutrients that can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Although canned beans could be high in salt and dried beans can be high in potassium, there are things you can do to keep these levels down.
To limit your sodium, look for “unsalted” or “no salt added” on the label of your canned beans. If you can’t find them, we have an easy hack: to eliminate the excess salt, just soak your regular canned beans in water before cooking.
If you have a potassium restriction, there are a few ways you can lower the potassium in your beans. First, you should always drain the excess liquid from your cooked beans, as this contains the highest amount of potassium. Soaking dried beans before cooking lowers their potassium level in a big way. Try it with chickpeas and lentils as well! Soak them for 12 hours, then boil them or cook them in your pressure cooker or on the stove. If you’d rather use canned chickpeas, cooking them slowly for more than 15 minutes can reduce their potassium by almost 65%. On the other hand, canned lentils still need to soak for 12 hours and be cooked normally for at least four minutes to reduce potassium.
If you feel like your beans need more salt-free flavor, use spices and herbs like cumin or rosemary, or try savory fruits and veggies such as garlic, onions, chili peppers, or lemon juice. You can even add low-sodium broth.