In his recent book “Blue Zones,” New York Times best-selling author Dan Buettner explores the dietary and cultural traditions of peoples around the world that have the largest number of centenarians. The dietary similarities in these groups can be summarized fairly simply: The groups with the highest longevity globally do two things. First, they eat meat as a condiment rather than as a dietary mainstay. Second, they eat beans daily.
Here are a few easy ways to increase the amount beans in your diet:
1. Buy some Red Lentils in the bulk section of your store.
Red Lentils cook into a lovely creamy soup in just 15 minutes. Add a bit of curry powder and throw in leftover vegetables as it simmers. You need one part lentils to 4 parts water/stock.
2. Keep canned beans on hand. Black, garbanzo, pinto, etc.
Rinse them and add to fairly small cut-up raw veggies of your choice and add a vinaigrette dressing or oil and vinegar. Add crumbled feta if you like or any dried herbs you like. Voila! You have a salad with protein that will keep in your refrigerator for the whole week.
Like chips and salsa? Add some rinsed black or pinto beans to your salsa before you dip your chip!
3. Frozen edamame/soy beans.
Add them to a salad or fried rice or just eat them alone. Yummy.
Donâ€™t forget your favorite bean chili, baked beans and hummus count toward your consumption of beans. All beans in whatever form you enjoy them will add protein, soluble fiber and a host of vitamins and minerals, including iron.
Kathryn Reed, who wrote this article, is a certified nutritionist. She co-founded Sound Health Connects in Seattle and works with clients such as Microsoft, Teamsters Union Trust and Seattle Athletic Club to support wellness initiatives.