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Pinto Beans: A Healthier Snack Than You'd Think

Fitday Editor

Pinto beans might just be a healthier snack than you realize. With their many health benefits, you may find yourself adding them to your meal plans on a regular basis. Pinto beans are beige in color and have reddish brown speckles all over. These colorations disappear when the bean is cooked. The bean then turns pink in color. Pinto beans are readily available at supermarkets in dried form as well as canned. They can be used in appetizers, main dishes, soups and even bread.

Nutritional Value

Pinto beans are a great source of protein. Keep this in mind when looking for a meat substitute. Unlike red meat, they are fat free. Only one cup of pinto beans provides 1/4 of the U.S.D.A. recommended daily allowance of protein for adults. They are also salt-free--perfect for sodium-free diets. Pinto beans contain high amounts of the B vitamins thiamin, roboflavin and niacin. These are all necessary for growth and tissue building. Pinto beans are also rich in fiber. Dietary fiber helps to stabilize blood sugar levels.

Disease Prevention

Pinto beans aid in preventing many diseases. They aid in preventing heart disease due to their high levels of folate, magnesium and potassium. Magnesiun improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Potassium is a mineral that is necessary for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. Folate helps lower levels of homocysteine in the blood. Elevated levels of homocysteine are a risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

If you suffer from diabetes, insulin resistance, and hypoglycemia you can benefit from adding pinto beans to your diet. Not only does the fiber content lower cholestorol, but it keeps blood sugar levels from rising after meals. Consistent, slow burning energy to the body is the result.

Pinto beans contain a property called molybdenum, which detoxifies sulfites. Sulfites are preservatives added to many foods and deli meats. Individuals with this sensitivity may experience rapid heartbeat and disorientation after consuming high amounts.

Tips for Preparation

Before cooking pinto beans, make sure to wash them properly. Be careful to look for small stones, debris, and damaged beans. Put the beans in a strainer and run cool water over them to rinse them thoroughly.

Pinto beans will cook faster if they are pre-soaked before cooking. One method involves boiling the beans for two minutes, removing them from the heat and then letting them stand for two hours. Another way is to simply soak the beans in the refrigerator overnight. Make sure to drain the soaking liquid before cooking and rinse the beans with water before cooking.

Meal Ideas

On the stove, bring the beans to a boil and then simmer for 1 - 1 1/2 hours. Now they are ready to be used in place of kidney beans in your favorite chile recipe. Add them to your vegetable soap for a punch of protein. Wrap your pinto beans in a tortilla, along with lettuce and tomato and salsa to create a yummy, nutritious burrito. Top your next salad with pinto beans to add fiber and texture.

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