No one can knock the bean. Vegetarians swear by them as a source of protein. They’re high in soluble fiber which helps lower cholesterol and promote good heart health. Full of cancer fighting antioxidants… Low glycemic index… Loaded with nutrients. And the best part about beans…They’re cheap!
The downside of beans… They can be a pain to prepare. First you gotta soak em, then you gotta cook em, and any leftover don’t last long in the fridge. That’s where the can comes in handy, for sure. Just open the can and you’re ready to go. But with the can comes high levels of sodium. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans “sodium from cooked dry beans increases from 3 milligrams to 618 milligrams per cup when replaced by canned beans!”
Can you imagine? That’s just under half the recommended maximum of sodium per day…in one cup of beans!!!
Cooking with dried beans is the optimum choice for good health. My suggestion would be to cook a big batch and freeze the extra for future meals. A little extra work can do a whole lot of good for your body! Another benefit of going dry over canned is the cost. One pound of dried beans (which costs about a dollar) is approximately 12-14 servings of cooked beans, or about 4 cans worth!
The most convenient way to cook dried beans is in the slow cooker. Then you don’t have to sit around for hours just because the stove is on. You should still soak the beans overnight as this is said to make them more easy to digest.
- Take one pound of dried beans, rinse and pick over well to make sure there are no little rocks.
- Soak beans in enough water to cover plus an inch or two for 8 hours or overnight.
- Drain the beans and place in a slow cooker with 6-8 cups of water (enough to cover them). Cover the pot and cook on high for 8 – 12 hours.
- Optional additions could be onions, garlic or herbs. Don’t add salt or anything acidic while the beans are cooking as this will compromise the creaminess of the beans. These ingredients can be added once the beans are ready for whatever dish you’re going to prepare.
So that’s that for the bean and sodium and the negatives of the can. If you absolutely must use canned beans, make sure you choose brands that are low in sodium, rinse them thoroughly. and discard the juice.