Kidney beans are actually the seeds of a bean plant, with the Latin name Phaseolus vulgaris. The beans themselves grow in the large green pods like those that inhabit so many people's home gardens. Think about green beans or string beans, but much fatter pods. The beans themselves are typically dark red or reddish brown, though you can also readily find white kidney beans (or, simply, white beans). These common beans are used around the world, both dried or canned, in a wide range of both hot and cold recipes. They are truly versatile!
One of the first things the people always seem to want to know is the kidney bean's calories. If they're so frequently included as diet foods, they must be low-calorie, right? I took at look at the fitbit nutrition database (as I'm pretty into my new fitbit ultra right now, but that is a story for another time!) Well, they're pretty good, coming in at 307 calories in a 1 cup serving of cooked beans. However, these are not all simple carbohydrate calories, because most of them derive from the protein and fiber. Let's look a little closer at the kidney bean's nutrition, including the main three biomolecule classes of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. (I love applying my biochemistry education to real life!)
In that 1 cup serving of kidney beans, there is a total carbohydrate amount of 56 g, of which only 8 g are sugars, but 19.5 g are dietary fiber. This is one of the biggest reasons why beans are so good for you: their high fiber content! In addition, another great testament to the nutrition of these beans is their low fat content, with only 1.2 g of total fat (of which 0.1 g is saturated). In terms of protein, our bean serving has 22.2 g, which is also pretty decent.
Of course, whenever people look at the nutrition facts and labels, they are not just interested in those three classes of molecules or the calories. One of the other big numbers is the cholesterol. Obviously, the cholesterol value is very important to people who have cardiovascular health problems such as hypertension or atherosclerosis, as they would want to minimize the amount of cholesterol in their diets. Luckily for them, the kidney bean's nutrition label shows that it is like a super food, with 0 (zero!) cholesterol! Also on the topic of cholesterol, I will also point out the value of having high dietary fiber, which as I showed above, these beans certainly do. Fiber actually works to lower the "bad" cholesterol that is already in your body. (I'm not getting into a discussion of "good" vs. "bad" cholesterols. Maybe another time!) So, you can see why including kidney beans in a slow carb diet, or any weight loss plan, is absolutely essential to helping lower fat and cholesterol.
The kidney beans nutritional information label also gives more info about the vitamins and minerals in our single serving amount we've been looking at. I won't go into details about what each of these important molecules actually do in the body (maybe that's also another post!), but I will just list them off here in terms of their percentage of the daily recommended allowance:
- Vitamin A: 0%
- Vitamin C: 11%
- Calcium: 15%
- Iron: 39%
- Thiamin: 65%
- Riboflavin: 24%
- Vitamin B6: 37%
- Niacin: 19%
- Magnesium: 74%
- Phosphorus: 75%
- Zinc: 31%
- Copper: 101%
- Pantothenic Acid: 14%
The point is that kidney beans contain a wide assortment of these vitamins and minerals that are needed by your body for it to work properly.
Kidney beans are used by several cultures around the world. They are very popular, and very common. They can be dried for prolonged storage, and then simply rehydrated when it's time to use them, or they can be purchased canned and ready to eat. With the multitude and diversity of recipes available that include kidney beans (I have lots on my site! Check out my traditional chili recipe or my turkey chili recipe!), there really is no excuse to not include these in your slow carb diet plans! I hope that you learned something from this post and you can now better appreciate one of the slow carb "super" foods. Please remember to +1 me if you enjoyed it (top right of the page)!