Zorba Paster: The Power Of The Bean

Beans Should Be A Part Of Our Diet

Bowl of beans
Stacy Spensley (CC-BY)

Dr. Zorba, Is it true that eating legumes, especially moong beans, could trigger arthritis pain? I have more arthritis than you can shake a stick at. My wrist, my knees, my hips and back all seem to bother me. I love legumes but I’m afraid that the more I eat them the worse my arthritis might get.

By the way, moong beans are like lentils only the shape is kind of roundish. They are abundant in Asian countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand. They are incredibly tasty. — DL from Fleming Island, Florida.

Dear DL: This is one of those medical myths that come up all the time. Arthritis ebbs and flows. One day it’s better, the next day it’s worse. And we’re always trying to see if it’s connected to something we’ve done, such as eating.

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I’ve searched high and low to see if there is any credible evidence legumes or any other foods might worsen arthritis pain.

Legumes are great to eat. They’re loaded with fiber, important vitamins and minerals, and phytonutrients have been shown to lower CRP, which is a blood test measuring inflammation some think is important in improving arthritis. That’s right. They may actually make your arthritis better.

And let’s not forget it’s an inexpensive high protein food. One cup of beans is 15 grams of protein, or about 20 percent of your protein needs for the entire day.

Now as for the cost, I did some interesting calculation — bear with me. I’m doing this because my best buddy Dan is always looking for the cheapest most inexpensive way to survive if a calamity hits the world and his money runs out.

A cup of dry beans yields a bit more than 2 cups of cooked beans. A cup of dry beans cost about 30 cents. Which means a cup of cooked beans is about 15 cents. You need 5 cups of beans each day to get all the protein you need. So do the math 15 cents x 5 = $0.75 for your daily protein requirement. This is the cheapest form of protein you can get.

When it comes to food costs we’re always looking for a way to keep costs down and nutrition up. I talk a lot about perishables because they’re so important. The more colorful they are, the better they taste and the better they are for you.

But I don’t talk a lot about beans. Perhaps it’s because beans are not as beautiful as a fine-looking tomato or apple? Perhaps it’s because the perishables hit my eye as soon as I walk into the grocery store while the dry beans are always on the bottom shelf, somewhere in the middle of the store, looking rather dusty in their plastic package.

Or is it that beans are associated with poverty – those old black and white movies that showed when you ran out of money your grub was a can of beans.

I’m not sure why beans aren’t sexy, but I do know beans can be really tasty. The other day I found a recipe on the Web, added some super duper hot sauce and some andouille sausage, popped it in our slow cooker and 8 hours later, just before serving, put some fresh cut basil from my garden and we had a tasty, inexpensive, fabulous meal. Easy to cook, easy to serve, high in protein and tasty.

My spin: Beans should be part of your diet. It’s all good. And dear reader, the moong beans you love are best known as mung beans in our lexicon.