Ways to Include Beans in Your Cholesterol-Lowering Diet

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Marilyn Barbone, istockphoto

Beans are best known as a food that is high in fiber and protein content. But did you know that beans are also considered a cholesterol-friendly food, too? It’s true. Beans have earned their reputation as a heart-healthy food due to their high soluble fiber content, an ingredient that can help keep your cholesterol levels in check. There’s a lot of delicious foods you can add beans to when following a cholesterol-lowering diet – whether you add them to beans or your favorite soup, or consume them alone.

Try these healthy tips and recipe ideas on how to add more beans to your healthy diet:

Adding Beans to Salads

What a perfect way to celebrate this healthy food by adding beans. Beans are not only the perfect ingredient for salad because of their nutritional properties, the fiber and protein contained in beans are filling, and will ensure that you aren’t raiding the refrigerator a couple of hours after you’ve eaten. While you can never go wrong with adding beans to a more traditional, lettuce-and-tomato salad, the somewhat neutral taste of beans allows you to be creative with your meals, such as these delicious takes on a bean salad:

Low Fat Black Bean Corn and Tomato Salad

Tuna, Bean, and Couscous Salad

Consuming Them Alone

Beans can also be consumed alone, turning them into the go-to snack when you’re looking for a food that is healthy, but nutritious. You can spruce up the flavor of your favorite beans by adding your favorite herbs and spices, or by just sprinkling a little bit of lemon juice over them.

Here are a couple of bean recipes that you can either consume for yourself as a quick snack, or take to your next potluck:

Easy, Homemade Black Beans

Basic Baked Beans

Using Beans in Side Dishes

Beans are able to complement just about any dish, whether you use just plain beans like above, or add other low fat ingredients to them to produce a scrumptious, yet healthy, dish.

Your favorite beans can go great with sautéed veggies, whole grain rice, or other heart-healthy foods. These side dishes are just a few examples of the endless combinations you can create to complement your low-fat meals:

Low-Fat Mexican Beans and Rice

Cuban Black Beans with Mango

Vegetarian Two Bean and Corn Chili

Adding Beans to Soups

Hearty soups are designed to keep you full for a while, so why not add a handful of beans to your favorite soup to add extra fiber? Beans add additional texture and protein to the soup, which can make you feel fuller after a meal – and can possibly prevent you from snacking an hour after your meal. Any type of bean will work best – whether it’s a kidney bean or black beans, you’re sure to be adding more fiber and less fat to the soup. Try some of these healthy recipes containing some of your favorite beans:

Low Fat Tomato, Kale and White Bean Soup

Low-Fat Chicken, Rice, and Bean Soup

Sneaking Beans into Other Foods

Craving Mexican food? Why not make a low-fat burrito or enchilada and substitute black beans for your typical chicken or ground beef.

You could also substitute beans for other fattier ingredients, such as creamy dips or turkey. Either way you add them, substituting or adding beans for higher fat ingredients will help keep your cholesterol levels in check without you missing out on a lot of flavor. However, when adding beans to your meals, be careful not to go overboard with other high-fat ingredients you may add. For example, instead of using a small scoop of sour cream on that rice and bean burrito, you may want to add a scoop of low-fat plain yogurt instead. Also, instead of adding salt to your beans, try adding a one or two of your favorite spices for flavor instead. Try these tasty dishes using beans:

Black Bean Burgers

Delicious Black Bean Dip

Vegetarian Rice and Bean Burrito

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