Beans and Other Nutritious Legumes for Low-Carb Diets

beans pulses legumes
Beans and Other Colorful Legumes. Patrizia Sevarese/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Beans and other legumes (the term pulses used in many countries is almost the same thing) are encouraged on the South Beach Diet (and for good nutrition in general) as a good source of fiber, resistant starch, and many nutrients and phytonutrients. Other than non-starchy vegetables, they are one of the least glycemic sources of carbohydrates, because the starch is either slowly absorbed or resistant to being absorbed in the small intestine.

1/3-1/2 cup servings are recommended.

Note that in general, canned beans tend to raise blood sugar more than beans which you soak and cook yourself.  However, this does not apply to soybeans, which have a low carb count and very low glycemic index, to begin with.  I recommend canned black soy beans as a low-carb bean that does not have the strong taste of regular yellow soybeans.

Beans for All Phases of the South Beach Diet

These include but aren't limited to:

  • Adzuki Beans
  • Black Beans
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Broad Beans (Fava Beans)
  • Butter Beans
  • Calico Beans
  • Cannellini Beans
  • Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
  • Edamame
  • Great Northern Beans
  • Italian Beans
  • Kidney Beans
  • Lentils
  • Lima Beans
  • Mung Beans
  • Navy Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Soy Beans, including black soy beans
  • Split Peas
  • White Beans

Avoid on the South Beach Diet: Beans canned with sugars or lard.

Green peas are considered a starchy vegetable and aren't allowed in Phase One of the South Beach Diet, but count as a starch serving in Phases Two and Three.

Peanuts are a special case of legumes, and on the South Beach Diet and almost everywhere else they are considered a nut. Serving size on South Beach is between 2/3 oz and 1 oz and peanuts are allowed in all phases of the diet. 2 Tablespoons of "natural" peanut butter (no sugars or oils added) is considered to be a serving.

There is more info in Nuts and Seeds on the South Beach Diet and also check out Carbs, Fats, and Calories in Nuts and Seeds for a complete chart.

As noted above, it is better from a blood sugar standpoint to cook beans yourself rather than use canned beans. The pressure used to produce canned beans breaks down the starch and makes it more accessible in our digestive systems. Also, we lose the benefits of the resistant starch in beans making it all the way to our colons and feeding the beneficial bacteria there. Don't know how to cook beans? It isn't difficult! Learn how to cook beans including the faster Quick-Soak Method.

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