My Plantcentric Journey

Posts tagged ‘soluble fiber’

Cooking With Legumes

cooking legumes

Today’s the day.  Today’s the day that I’m finally going to do something with those dried Adzuki beans I just had to get after hearing all about the health benefits of them on the Dr. Oz Show.  http://www.sharecare.com/question/health-benefits-eating-adzuki-beans  Problem is, they have to be soaked, and I’ve never had luck soaking beans.  They always end up being hard.

So, before I started, I needed directions and found this info from Dr. Weil.  Such great information I just had to share.

From Andrew Weil, MD.

Legumes, like whole grains, are a low-glycemic-index food and an important part of the Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid. They are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber; delicious if prepared properly; and among the most inexpensive foods you can buy – the ultimate refutation of the notion that “you have to be rich to eat healthy.”

Legumes are the seeds of the plants in the Fabaceae family – a family that includes beans, lentils, soybeans, peas, peanuts, and even alfalfa and clover. They are exceptionally healthy foods for humans and animals, with the added bonus of being excellent for the environment: their roots fix nitrogen in the soil, reducing the need for petroleum-based fertilizers.

Legumes in the diet usually refers to pulses – the edible seeds of annual leguminous plants that are harvested dry for consumption. In other words, these are the dry beans and lentils you can find in the bulk bins of any natural food store.

Beans and lentils are rich in folic acidmagnesiumpotassium, B vitamins, complex carbohydrates and soluble fiber, and, at 20-25% protein by weight, are a go-to for vegetarians and vegans.

The American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society all recommend legumes as one of the most important food groups for disease prevention and optimal health. Due to their blend of fiber, protein and nutrients, legumes aid in blood sugar regulation more than almost any other food group, a key quality for diabetics and those concerned with maintaining stable insulin response.

Legumes are also heart-healthy; their high fiber content lowers cholesterol and triglyceride (blood fat) levels. A study of over 15,000 middle-aged men across the U.S., Europe and Japan for 25 years found the consumption of legumes was associated with an 82% reduction in risk of death from heart disease. Most varieties of beans and lentils are also high in folate, a vitamin that helps prevent the build-up of the amino acid homocysteine – elevated levels of which are a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

Cheap, healthful, versatile and delicious, there’s a reason pulses like beans and lentils are a staple  throughout the world. Whether you enjoy them as dips and spreads like hummus, paired with nutritious whole grains such as the ever-popular beans and rice, or merely to bulk up soups, stews and salads, they deserve a prominent place in your anti-inflammatory kitchen!

General tips on cooking with legumes:
This guide is for cooking dried legumes from scratch, which is by far the most inexpensive, fresh and tasty  way to enjoy them. However, canned beans can be a good choice in a pinch. If you opt for canned, look for varieties that do not contain chemical preservatives, and be sure to rinse them thoroughly to remove excess sodium that may have been included in the canning liquid.

Some dried beans such as black, navy and kidney beans are found in typical supermarkets, but you will have better luck finding more obscure beans, such as adzuki beans and unique lentil varieties at your local natural foods store or ethnic market. For all dried legumes:

  • Opt for organic varieties from the bulk bins of health food stores whenever possible – they have higher turnover rates, which improves the likelihood of freshness.
  • Store in airtight containers in a cool, dry place that is not in direct sunlight. Generally, if done properly, they can be stored up to one year.
  • Before preparing, it is advisable to spread them out on a light surface to check for and remove any small stones, spoiled beans or other debris. Then, place in a strainer and rinse under cool water.

Almost all legumes – split peas and lentils being the exceptions – should be soaked prior to cooking. Soaking improves digestibility and decreases cooking time. Place rinsed, dried beans in a pot and add water until it is roughly three inches above the beans. Cover the pot and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour for small beans, six hours or overnight for larger varieties. Then drain the soaking water – don’t use it for cooking, as it’s full of difficult-to-digest starches that can cause flatulence and other digestive woes.

The instructions in the list below are for stovetop preparation in a pot. But you can also use a pressure cooker for most of these beans, which can reduce cooking times by up to 80 percent. See the instructions that were included with your cooker for details on the amount of liquid needed and cooking times.

You can also cook your legumes in vegetable stock instead of water for added flavor, but do not add any salt or acidic ingredients like tomatoes or lemon juice – either will toughen the beans and greatly increase cooking time. As a general rule, wait until beans are done or nearly done cooking before seasoning.

To further reduce the gas-producing properties of beans, add a large strip of dried kombu seaweed to the pot of beans and water prior to boiling. Remove the kombu once cooking is finished. You can find kombu in your local natural foods store or in ethnic markets. Adding a slice or two of ginger or some fennel or cumin seeds can also help. Additionally, skimming and discarding the foam during boiling is also an effective means of gas reduction.

To cook: Refill the pot with fresh, cold water for cooking (three cups per cup of soaked beans is a good general rule, but optimal amounts for each legume variety are provided). Bring to a boil in a pot with a lid. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer, tilt the lid slightly to allow steam to escape, and leave to cook for the designated time. Beans are done when they are tender; though if you desire an even softer texture (useful for some recipes that call for mashed beans) simply cook them longer. Try these legumes as part of a healthy diet plan:

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03206/Cooking-With-Legumes.html

Advertisements

3 Steps to Controlling Cholesterol Naturally by Dr. Neil D. Bernard MD.

By Neal D. Barnard, MD Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, DC Author of the 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart If you have a high cholesterol level, you are no doubt looking for a safe and effective way to bring it down. Medications are one way, but foods have more power than you might have imagined. Carefully chosen, foods can rival the power of prescription drugs. Needless to say, be sure to speak with your doctor before staring any new treatment plan. Cholesterol problems can be dangerous, so you will want to be sure your doctor monitors how you are doing and advises you along the way. Here are three steps for using foods to tackle cholesterol: Step 1: Favor Foods From Plants When I was growing up in North Dakota, my mother cooked up bacon for her children’s breakfasts, lifting the sizzling strips out of the grease with a fork and setting them on a paper towel to drain. Then, she carefully poured the hot grease into a jar to save it. She did not put the jar in the refrigerator; it went straight into the kitchen cupboard. She knew that as bacon grease cools, it turns solid and does not require refrigeration. The next day, she spooned the bacon grease back into the fry pan and fried eggs in it. The fact that bacon grease is solid – as opposed to a liquid oil – is a sign that it is high in saturated fat (sometimes called “bad” fat), because it causes your body to make cholesterol. The big contributors of saturated fat in your diet are meats, dairy products, and eggs. The more you replace these products with plant-based foods, they better off you’ll be. Fish are a bit of a mixed bag. Fish fat contains some omega-3 fats, also called “good fats,” which are healthier in some ways that other animal fats. However, 70 to 85 percent of fish fat is not omega-3. It is a mixture of plain old saturated fat and various other fats that offer no health benefits. Cholesterol Is Not the Same as Fat Fat is the yellow layer under a chicken skin or the white stripes in marbled beef. But cholesterol is not the same as fat. Cholesterol is invisible, hiding mainly in the lean portion of meats, in the membranes that surround each cell in an animal’s body. So a bite of chicken, for example, has fat under the skin and in between the muscle cells, as well as cholesterol lurking in the cell membranes that surround each cell. But if you were to check the cholesterol content of vegetables, fruits, and other foods from plants, their labels would indicate a big zero. So when you set aside animal products, you get a double benefit. You are getting no animal fat and essentially no cholesterol. The result can be a big improvement on your blood cholesterol test. Step 2: Skip Trans Fats If you look at the food label on a pack of potato chips or a snack pastry, you might see the words “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil.” Also called trans fats, these oils raise cholesterol, just like animal fats. Avoiding them is easy as searching for “partially hydrogenated oil” on the food label. Instead of a snack pastry, how about an apple or an orange? They never have a drop of trans fat. Step 3: Use Special Cholesterol-Lowering Foods For most people, following a plant-based diet and avoiding trans fats lowers cholesterol impressively. But there is one more step you can take. You can choose foods with a special cholesterol-lowering effect. Red Yeast Rice Around 800 AD in China, it was found that red yeast cultivated on rice produces compounds that are good for health. But it was not for another 1200 years that it was discovered that the compound produced in red yeast rice is actually lovastatin – the same compound that is marketed as the cholesterol-lowering prescription drug Mevacor. It reduces cholesterol production in the liver. Although red yeast rice is widely available without a prescription and appears to have fewer side effects compared to statin drugs, it is important to remember that it is, in effect, a natural pharmaceutical that should be used under a physician’s direction. A typical regimen would be 1200 milligrams twice per day.   Oyster Mushrooms Oyster mushrooms contain lovastatin, just as red yeast rice does. But they also contain beta-glucans, which help the body eliminate cholesterol. A typical serving would be about one-half cup. Click here for a Linguine With Seared Oyster Mushrooms recipe. The Power Combo: A Portfolio of Cholesterol-Lowering Foods At the University of Toronto, Dr. David Jenkins discovered that by combining specific foods, you can achieve a cholesterol-lowering effect that compares very favorably with that of medications. In his research, Dr. Jenkins asked a group of patients to avoid animal products and to choose from a “portfolio” of special foods. The result was quick and dramatic. Their LDL (“bad”) cholesterol fell nearly 30 percent in four weeks –essentially the same drop as is seen with cholesterol-lowering drugs.1 Here is the combination that did the trick: Foods Rich in Soluble Fiber Oats, beans, okra, and barley are rich in soluble fiber, which helps your body eliminate cholesterol. How about starting your day with a bowl of old-fashioned oats? If you chose cold oat cereals, top them with soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, or other non-dairy milk. For lunch, have baked beans, black beans, hummus (made from chickpeas), split pea soup, lentil soup, or other varieties. If beans give you a bit of gas, have smaller servings and be sure they are cooked until very soft. Barley is a great addition to soups. Or add it to rice for added flavor. Okra is a southern staple, but it is a healthy addition to any diet in soups, stews, or curries.

Soy Soy products replace cholesterol-laden meats and dairy products, and they have a cholesterol-cutting effect of their own, reducing your liver’s tendency to produce cholesterol. Enjoy a glass of soymilk, an edamame appetizer, or tofu or tempeh in a stir-fry instead of chicken. Almonds and Walnuts These nuts contain natural sterols that reduce cholesterol. You might have about one ounce per day (one small handful). To avoid overdoing it with nuts, use them as a topping for a salad, rather than a snack. Cholesterol-lowering Spreads Instead of butter or margarine, why not choose a spread that blocks the absorption of cholesterol? Benecol light, for example, is made with natural plant stanols that come from pine trees, and it has a significant cholesterol-lowering effect. The idea is to add each of these foods to your routine, to get a powerful cholesterol-lowering effect. You will very likely find that you have more power over your health than you ever imagined. At the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, we have a free 21-Day Kickstart program that will help you try out a healthy plant-based diet. You’ll see it at PCRM.org. Reference 1. Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Marchie A, et al. Direct comparison of a dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods with a statin in hypercholesterolemic participants. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;81:380–7. http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/3-steps-controlling-cholesterol-naturally#cmpid_TW_Link

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: