Sugary soft drinks, candy and other junk foods are short on nutrients. They provide what are commonly referred to as empty calories. Beans are the opposite -- a high-value food source packed with fiber, protein, iron, magnesium and other nutrients. When it comes to beans, every calorie is a calorie worth eating.
Beans With 110 to 130 Calories per Serving
Beans vary slightly in caloric content, depending on the variety. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dry adzuki, pinto and black beans have 110 calories per half-cup. A half-cup of dry lima, pinto or cranberry beans contains 120 calories. Garbanzo beans, which are also known as chickpeas, contain 130 calories per dry half-cup, as do pink and navy beans.
Other varieties of beans have higher or lower calorie counts per serving. Black-eyed beans, for instance, contain 80 calories per half-cup of dry beans. Great northern beans contain 100 calories per half-cup. And a dry half-cup of small red beans has 310 calories.
Fat, Fiber and Protein
Most beans are naturally low in fat and cholesterol. They give you both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, and they're a good source of protein. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you need to pair dry beans with a grain source such as rice to make a complete protein.
Vitamins and Minerals
MayoClinic.com reports that beans and other legumes tend to be good sources of iron, potassium, folate and magnesium. A serving of garbanzo beans, for instance, provides 15 percent of your recommended daily value of iron. Kidney, lima, pinto and black beans contain 10 percent of your recommended daily value of this mineral.
With so many types of beans to choose from, you can find lots of different ways to incorporate these healthy legumes into meals. Black beans and pinto beans, for instance, are ideal for burritos. Use chickpeas to make hummus, curries and stews. Whether you start with dry or canned beans, you'll be eating a nutritious source of energy for your body.
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Elisabeth Dahl is a freelance writer and copyeditor who has worked in publishing since 1991. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Arts degree from Georgetown University, where she was a Writing Center Associate Fellow.
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