“Spill the beans”, “full of beans”, “don’t know beans” about beans!
On the GI diet, beans are your new best friend! Growing up, beans to me meant the third vegetable on the plate, sitting close to the peas and carrots, or, heinz baked beans, which I now enjoy the taste of, but growing up, found them to be one of the most intolerable things under the sun!
I had never heard of borlotti beans, cannelini beans, broad beans, fava beans, kidney, black beans, pinto beans, or any other of the hundreds of varieties of beans which exist! Butter Beans: GI = 26-36, Cannellini Beans: GI = 31, Red Kidney Beans GI=19-51, Soya Beans: GI = 15-20, Pinto Beans: GI = 33-38. In general, canned beans are a little higher in GI than those you cook yourself, probably because they end up a little firmer, thus with slightly less readily available carbohydrate. In addition to low GI carbs, beans are high in protein and fibre. You can lower your risk of certain types of cancers by increasing the fibre content in your diet. The high fibre will initially cause an increase in wind and stomach discomfort, however this tends to settle after about a month as the gut bacteria adjusts in response. Eating the good bacteria (probiotics) found in yoghurt or supplements in extra amounts in the short term can help speed up this process of the good bacteria colonising your digestive system. There is a bitter tasting herb called asafoetida which you can add to beans to help reduce the gas impact, however, do be aware that asafoetida was historically used as an abortive agent, so don’t go near this if you are considering pregnancy or pregnant!
If you buy your beans from somewhere with a high turnover then you are more likely to end up with a fresh product. Dried beans which are old can take literally forever to cook. When they get old the skin starts to look a bit shrivelled and wisened. An organic health food store is likely to have a high turnover, or a market type supplier. For canned beans, choose those with lower salt content, and check to make sure they don’t have sugar added to the cooking process.
Preparation and Storage
Here is a great video with step by step instructions for cooking dried beans from scratch. Store dried beans in airtight containers in your pantry. If you are cooking them yourself, cook in bulk, and freeze the strained finished product so you have batches to use later. The soaking process is important to prevent major stomach upset. Cooking for longer does not compensate. Soak the beans overnight, or boil them for at least 10-20 minutes, leave to sit and soak for an hour, then strain, refresh with cold water, and begin the cooking process with new water.