The 7 Healthiest Beans, Grains and Legumes


Stocking up your pantry with healthy staples is always a good idea. The more healthy food options we have on hand, the less likely we are to binge on Pringles. Right?  Fortunately, there are plenty of healthy and tasty options in the dried goods category to include into your diet to augment all those super healthy fruits and vegetables you're already eating. Check out these favorites.

1. Quinoa

If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, quinoa is a must. And it's a good idea for you meat-eaters, too, because quinoa is a fantastic plant protein—more than any other grain (although, technically, quinoa is a seed). It’s a great source of B vitamins, all nine essential amino acids, provides an excellent boost of fiber, iron and calcium. Cook it like you would rice and serve it much the same way as well. Try it as a pilaf or even in the morning in place of oats.

2. Millet

A lesser known grain herein the U.S., millet is consumed in quantity throughout Asia and Africa. It is gluten-free and has an alkalizing effect on the body as well. While less protein-rich than quinoa, it's still an excellent source—about 15 percent protein per serving. It's a good food for remineralizing—containing high levels of iron, magnesium and potassium.

3. Lentils

You can't go wrong with the lentil. This quick-cooking legume provides fast and plentiful protein (about 17 grams per serving), a healthy dose of soluble fiber and micronutrients including folate, B6 and magnesium. Because they cook so quickly and don't require soaking, it's a good staple to always have on hand for a fast and healthy meal. Try them in soups, stews, with grains such as quinoa or over pasta.

4. Black Beans

They're a favorite in Cuban and Mexican dishes, and a good choice to add to any meal. Black beans are a great protein source at about 8 grams per half-cup serving along with nearly as much fiber. This low-calorie, versatile bean is also an excellent brain food, too. Black beans contain anthocyanins that have been shown to boost brain power. Think about that over a black bean burrito!

5. Oats

Eat that bowlful every morning and you're getting a fiber-rich start to your day, which can keep you feeling full and satisfied until lunch, and less likely to reach for that mid-morning donut. Oats contain a strong fiber called beta glucan that can help to reduce cholesterol levels. You're also getting minerals such as manganese, magnesium and selenium as well as B vitamins in every serving.

6. Pinto Beans

Fiber and protein-rich pinto beans are also loaded with minerals including phosphorous, manganese, iron and potassium. As well, they're a great resource for B vitamins and the trace mineral, molybdenum, which is necessary for processing sulfites found in a number of foods (and alcohol). The mighty pinto may also help your immune system fight off colds and the flu, too.

7. Brown Rice

Simply by leaving the bran on the rice, we have ourselves one healthy food. Brown rice is an excellent source of dietary fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. One cup of rice provides you with nearly all the recommended daily intake of manganese, which helps protect our bodies from free radical damage.


By Jill Ettinger| February 24, 2016
Categories:  Eat
Keywords:  EatHealthy EatingNutrition

About the Author

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a freelance journalist and marketing specialist primarily focused on the organic and natural industries, she bridges her love for changing the food system with her lifelong passion for writing and connecting people in their shared values. You can connect with Jill on Twitter and Instagram.

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