We’ve all heard the fairy tale about Jack and the magic beans. Now, according to research published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, beans could be the key to losing weight. The study analyzed 21 clinical trials with a total of more than 900 participants and found that consuming 3/4 cup of lentils or chickpeas each day resulted in weight loss-even among those who made no other lifestyle changes.
The benefits of beans are extensive. Even if you aren’t necessarily trying to lose weight, there are plenty of reasons to incorporate lentils and chickpeas into your daily menu. Beans are one of the only foods that contains a combination of fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates. This combination keeps you feeling full by slowing digestion, which curbs cravings and helps you lose weight. The fiber prevents absorption of calories, while the minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants present in beans prevent cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Just one cup of lentils is packed with 18 grams of protein and 37 percent of your daily recommend iron, but contains just one gram of fat. In addition to filling protein and fiber, they contain plenty of folate, potassium, and magnesium, important nutrients for warding off disease. Lentils are a great healthy meat substitute and are available in a few different varieties. Brown are the most popular and the softest, while green have a firmer consistency and nuttier flavor and red cook quickly and have a mild, sweet flavor.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are best known as the basis for hummus. However, they are also great in salads, soups, or roasted for a crunchy snack. This type of bean is packed with fiber, which supports digestive health, as well as antioxidants and other ingredients that promote heart health and help regulate blood sugar.
The trouble is, beans have a bad reputation. Not only are they associated with flatulence, but the idea of soaking dried beans overnight seems like too much prep for busy home cooks. But the truth is, lentils and chickpeas cause much less digestive distress than their reputation suggests. In addition, there are plenty of ways to cook lentils and chickpeas quickly with minimal fuss. This Moroccan inspired chickpea and lentil soup packs plenty of health benefits, is inexpensive to make, and can be whipped up in less than an hour. It serves up to four, and makes great leftovers for lunches.
You’ll need 2 tablespoons butter, 1 onion, chopped, 2 ribs celery, chopped, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 3/4 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 cup of any type of lentils, 6 1/2 cups water, a 15 ounce can of crushed, pureed tomatoes, a 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed, and 1/3 cup chopped parsley.
First, melt the butter in a large stock pot and use it to saute your onion and celery for about 10 minutes. Once these veggies start to soften, add the rest of your ingredients (except the chickpeas) and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pot with a vented lid, then reduce heat to low and allow the soup to simmer for about 30 minutes. At that point, check to make sure that the lentils are tender before adding the chickpeas and warming for five more minutes. Serve with a sprinkle of parsley, and squeeze lemon juice or chopped dates on top for true authenticity.
Regardless of how you choose to eat lentils and chickpeas, they are a nutritious addition to your diet that may just be the weight loss secret you’ve been looking for.