Legumes are a very healthy addition to the diet, and many health professionals suggest that most people do not consume enough. Legumes are a general plant family that includes lentils, beans, peas, and chickpeas. Many vegetarians rely on legumes for protein but non-vegetarians can benefit from consuming more as well. Legumes are not only high in protein but are an excellent source of dietary fibre and minerals.
White pea beans, commonly known as “navy beans” in North America are one of the most nutritious of legumes. One very important component of white beans is Phosphatidylserine (PS). This chain of two fatty acids is found in non-vegetarian sources such as meat and fish (mackerel is quite high) but in plant sources, it is generally quite rare. White beans are the exception and contain more phosphatidylserine than any other plant-based food.
It is believed that a higher consumption of PS reduces the risk of old-age dementia and may improve cognitive function. Additionally, improved memory is also linked to PS.
Navy beans are considered excellent sources of folate (Vitamin B9). Increased folate levels are associated with lower heart attack risk – folate helps to control homocysteine levels, which when elevated, can increase the risk for heart and artery disease.
Women of child-bearing age (whether or not they plan to have children) have also been advised to ensure high folate intake
Eating beans on their own, however, can be boring! There are, of course, many ways to “dress beans up” or by taking advantage of their health benefits and adding them to salads and other dishes. Here, we also love the health benefits of oregano, garlic and olive oil – and to that end, Ian created his own “White Bean Dip Or Spread.” It’s delicious used as a dip for raw vegetables, or even as a side to meat dishes, and can also be used as a spread on sandwiches.
This recipe calls for hydrated white beans – and they should really be quite soft as you will be using a blender of some sort or perhaps a food processor. An immersion blender works well but is best when the beans are fully hydrated. You could, of course, use canned white beans, but we prefer to start with dry beans.
1 1/2 cups hydrated and cooked white (navy) beans
2 cloves of garlic (if this is too much garlic, you could just use 1 clove)
3 Tablespoons Greek olive oil
2 Teaspoons KirIan Greek oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar.
Chop the garlic cloves into small pieces especially if using an immersion blender – this makes it much easier on the blades and motor to puree the garlic along with the other ingredients.
Add all the ingredients together and blend thoroughly.
Pretty simple and this can be made in less than five minutes. A delicious dip or spread. If you want, you can refrigerate it overnight. This also helps all the flavours to “meld” together, but you might also find it so good, that you’ll eat it all right away!
Bonus 1 – Garlic Health Tip
Many people know that garlic has some pretty amazing health benefits, but what they don’t realize is that generally speaking, cooking garlic lowers the health benefit potential. Some of the biggest health benefits from garlic occur when compounds called “allicins” form, but this requires oxygen and time. When cooks cut, dice, and mince garlic, then immediately throw it into the pot or frying pan, there is no time for allicins to form, and the garlic loses much of it’s health potential.
Raw garlic on the other hand, even if consumed almost right away, can create these healthy compounds. This recipe above calls for raw garlic so you can be sure you’re getting all the health benefit bang! If you do want to use garlic in your cooking, plan ahead. Chop, mince, or dice your garlic forty-five minutes before you start to cook with it. This way, the allicins will have a chance to develop and you’ll get more of those healthy compounds in your meals.
Bonus Tip 2 – Fl…fl…flatulence…Beans The Musical Fruit
We don’t like to talk about it in mixed company, and we sure don’t like it when bouts of it come on in mixed company! Or any company for that matter. Many of us have chanted the silly poem:
Beans, beans the musical fruit
The more you eat,
The more you toot!
Well, we’ve got some tips for you on how to reduce that musical feeling after eating legumes, especially beans. That flatulence is caused by bacteria in your gut, feasting on short-chain carbohydrates (also called galacto-oligosaccharide (GOS)) that are found in legumes. There are a couple of things you can do to reduce the effects:
- Remove the liquid that your beans have been soaked and cooked in if rehydrating dried beans. If you use canned beans, pour off that liquid in the can. And for both cases, rinse the rehydrated beans well, with fresh water. This will help to remove the GOS and you’ll end up with less of it in your digestive system.
- Eat more oregano. Actually, some GOS is not bad as it stimulates the growth of healthy bacteria including bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. But too much all of a sudden feasting on GOS will cause gaseous eruptions. On the other hand, there is scientific evidence that oregano can kill of the bacteria that cause methane emissions from the digestive system – so even if you forgot to completely rinse your beans before preparing them, eating oregano could also ensure less of those emissions is methane!
On another note, if you ARE concerned about having a healthy gut flora, this another great reason to add more beans to your diet! With garlic and KirIan Greek oregano, of course!
Now go ahead and eat up that Navy Bean Dip with garlic and KirIan Greek oregano!