SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 21, February 2017 - Page 95

ANTIOXIDANTS

Black beans have a dark appearance due to pigment-producing flavonoids which are powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body’s cells from environmental contaminants (i.e. air pollution, water pollutants, fertilizers) and from stress related cellular oxidation thus reducing heart disease and cancer risk. Plant based foods average 1000 units of antioxidants per 100 grams while beef has virtually no antioxidants.

FIBER

Beans are rich in fiber containing, on average, 30 grams of fiber per 1 cup of beans. Fiber helps to lower the total amount of blood cholesterol thus contributing to a reduced risk of heart disease. Fiber also helps to increase transit time of food in the body, meaning food moves slowly through the body’s digestive system allowing the body to absorb more nutrients from the food; this slow transit time also keeps you feeling fuller, longer. The average adult needs about 30-40 grams of fiber per day. How much fiber is in 3oz of beef? Glad you asked- zero. What about in a 6oz steak? Still zero.

PROTEIN

Per 100 grams, cooked black beans provide 15 grams of protein while beef provides 14-27 grams of protein depending on the cut of beef. Yes it is true, beans are not considered a complete protein since beans, alone, do not contain all nine essential amino acids; however, when eaten, the amino acids in beans can combine with foods eaten within 24 hours to form complete proteins. Score!

CHOLESTEROL AND FAT

If you are watching your fat intake and/or cholesterol intake, then listen to this. Per 100 grams, beans have no cholesterol and less than 2 grams of fat while beef has anywhere from 76-78 mg of cholesterol and 7-30 grams of fat per 100 grams. For this reason, beans are considered “heart healthy” by the American Heart Association.

COST

One pound of dry black beans will cost you around $1.20 (US price) and once cooked will yield 2 lbs 5 oz of beans or 6.5 cups of beans. This will provide you with 1 cup of beans a day for almost the entire week! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the current average price of ground beef is about $4.00/lb while steaks are currently priced at an average of $7.00/lb. So, as you can see, beans are more economical.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

Animals take a lot of energy to raise, especially cows. Cows are the largest producer of methane gases in the world producing an estimated 150 billion gallons of methane per day. The demand for beef has caused our precious Amazon Forest to be slashed and burned in order to clear land for cattle ranching which now accounts for 60-80% of deforestation. The Amazon Rainforest is considered the lungs of Earth since it plays a major role in cleaning our air of carbon dioxide and pollutants; it also plays a major role in the exchange of water from the land to the air and vice-versa, just like our own lungs. The biodiversity of this forest is remarkable and deforestation leaves many animals dead, harmed, or near extinction. For these reasons and many more (which I encourage you to explore), we have to think of the impact of our beef consumption and what we can do to help our bodies and planet. Beef is not bad for in moderation, since it does contain some minerals that plants do not contain. I believe in sustainability and moderation, so I am not asking for you to eliminate beef from your diet, but I am asking you to consider more plant based sources for your nutrition and to think about the impact of all of our food choices.

HOW TO COOK BEANS

The best way to ensure maximum nutrient benefit is to cook your own beans. Cooking your own beans is cheap and easy and here’s how to do it.

Purchase your bean of choice, my favorite are black beans because they are easy to digest and high in protein.

Soak your beans for 1-3 days in 1 part bean to 2 parts water. Change the water 2x a day. This process “activates” the bean, changing it from a dormant seed to a living nutrient. In addition, this process rids the beans of most of phytates and tannins which lower nutrient availability. Soaking reduces cooking time (which saves energy) and also rids the beans of substances that cause flatulance (aka pass gas, fart, moon gas). So make sure to soak!

Cook in 2 parts water to 1 part bean. Start at a high temperature until the water begins to boil.

When the water begins to boil, reduce to simmer, place lid on pot and leave cracked so that steam can escape.

Cook for 45 minutes to 1.5 hours. The longer you cook the beans, the more digestible they become.

Optional: !hen beans are finished cooking you can place the lid on the pot, flushed, and let sit for 1-6 hours until eaten. Refrigerate when finished.

TIPS FOR ADDING TO DIET

Add to salsa

Mix into salad

Make bean spread for sandwiches and chips

Blend into your protein shake

Add to soups

Add to burritos

Eat a bowl of beans by itself: add fresh herbs, onion, tomato, etc.,

Use for veggie burgers

Black Bean Brownies!

Mix with your favorite grains

Beans are a staple food source in many countries and this is no surprise as they are cheap, environmentally friendly, and provide numerous health benefits. Beef is also a staple food in many countries, but why eat beef when you can eat beans? Well, I’ll explain.

February 2017 - Health & Sustainable Living

SEVENSEAS - 95