As an arthritis sufferer you may have read how cutting down on meat will help to relieve inflammation by cutting down on foods that encourage the production of arachidonic acids, certain prostaglandins, and hence inflammation and pain. I am not suggesting you need to become vegetarian but cutting down on meat and adding beans to your diet can be a positive move. However, some people find beans too difficult to digest. Here are some suggestions that you might find helps your situation.
Legume family - includes beans, peas, lentils and peanuts. They are also known as pulses, they are the mature seeds that grow inside a pod. Legumes are nutritious containing certain amino acids, vitamins and minerals plus plenty of fibre. They are a very important part of a healthy program.
Peanuts are also part of the legume family (but not recommended for regular consumption).
Beans in general can help prevent cancer because they are high in fibre and low in fat and calories. Half a cup serving contains more than 6 grams of fibre plus potassium, zinc, iron and B vitamins. Beans are a good source of protein though they do lack some essential amino acids. However adding grains to the meal will provide the essential amino acids that are missing. Studies have shown that the fibre in beans can lower blood cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of diabetes, heart attack and stroke. The phyto-chemicals in legumes protect us from all sorts of cancer. Their fibre helps to feed the ‘the friendly bacteria’ encouraging the correct bowel flora.
There are more than 70 different varieties of legumes. Beans are an important part of every known cuisine. They have been used for 10,000 years. In comparison grains are the new kids on the block.
As we get older our digestive system doesn’t work quite as well as it once did. If you are avoiding beans and lentils, you could be missing out on some very nutritious foods and their health giving properties because you are put of by ingestion, bloating and gas.
Soya beans – most difficult*
Other beans in general – fairly easy**
Lentils – easy***
Sprouted beans and lentils – very easy*****
Cooking beans correctly to reduce gas and improve digestibility.
Dry beans must first be soaked over night, 1 part beans to 4 parts water. Afterward the water MUST be thrown away as the gas-causing enzymes are released into the water while soaking them. Put the beans in plenty of fresh water, while cooking add seaweed or cumin seeds or fennel seeds or caraway seeds to make beans even easier to digest. They must be brought to the boil and continue to boil for 20 minutes without the lid on. Then cover with a lid and continue to simmer until soft. Cook large amounts and put the rest into the freezer, for when you are busy.
Lentils like other legumes are a good source of soluble and insoluble fibre. Lentils are a good source of minerals for nearly every organ in the body. They neutralise acids produced in the muscles and provide calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. They are also a rich source of potassium, zinc, folic acid, plus loads of fibre.
Lentils help to lower cholesterol, but this is only one of many benefits derived from eating lentils. However, lentils like most beans are an incomplete protein and for this reason need to be eaten with whole grains to provide all the eight essential amino acids. They can be used in soups, stews or made into vegetarian pates/dips or dahl. Recipes for dahl can be found in Indian cookbooks. The whole lentils can also be sprouted.
Lentils are found in different varieties – brown, green, very dark almost black, however the orange ones have had their skins removed and can not be sprouted.
Like beans they are very cleansing. As you can see form the list are they are easier to digest than beans.
Chickpeas support kidney function. Digestive cleansers and are a good source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, manganese, Vitamins B3, B5, B6 and folic acid. Chickpeas are used a lot in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking. The flour is known as gram flour.
Kidney beans are high in fibre, cleanse the digestive tract. Increase beneficial bacteria, removes excess cholesterol. They are a good source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and folic acid.
Mung beans are small round and green, a great heart and blood cleanser, excellent for detoxification. They are a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, vitamin B3, vitamin B5 and folic acid.
Very easy to sprout, look up Sprouting
Peanuts are not nuts but legumes and do not grow on trees or bushes like nuts. Peanuts actually grow on the ground, hence its other name groundnut. They grow like peas in a pod. The Spanish first stumbled across peanuts in South America. Now China and India together produce more than 50 percent of the world’s peanuts. The US accounts for only 5 percent. Peanuts can slow down the metabolism of the liver, avoid if you are overweight. If you are unable to put on weight even though you eat a lot, add raw peanuts with their thin brown skins to your diet. Peanuts are heavily sprayed with agricultural chemicals.
If you still have trouble digesting beans, move to plan B – Sprouting. See article
Did you know?
The Americans eat enough peanut butter in a year to make 10 billion sandwiches!