Beans pack a nutritional knockout punch of protein, fibre and antioxidants, says Pooja Vig, nutritional therapist and founder of The Nutrition Clinic. “On average, a cup of cooked beans features about 15g of protein and fibre – the equivalent of about 500ml of milk, except that milk does not have fibre,” she says. What’s more, red (adzuki) and green (mung) beans feature one of the highest protein and lowest fat content among beans.
GREEN OR RED?
Nutritionally, very little separates red or green bean desserts – per serving, red beans have 4g more protein and green beans have 5g more fibre, according to the Health Promotion Board – so it’s entirely up to you which you prefer. However, green beans tend to be easier to digest and are a little faster to cook, says Vig. But what makes these nutrient-packed desserts stand out is the fibre within: “Fibre can prevent glucose spikes by keeping you feeling full longer and thus aiding in weight loss,” says Vig. What’s more, fibre can also maintain your intestinal health and reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular disease – just opt for less sugar and coconut milk to make it a more salubrious dessert, she advises.
Eat too many beans and the people around you will take notice – or rather, their noses will. Because our digestive systems can’t easily break down the complex sugars present in beans, flatulence results. Vig proposes two steps to minimise this if you’re preparing these desserts at home.
1. Soak the beans and discard the water before cooking. Although some minerals will be lost, up to 80 per cent of the oligosaccharides (bean sugars) that cause flatulence will also be discarded. Try this: Boil the beans for three minutes, remove from heat and let them soak for four hours before cooking the beans in fresh water.
2. Ensure thorough cooking of the beans, because they contain small amounts of toxic substances called lectins (that can cause nausea and diarrhoea). Thorough cooking also softens the starch and fibres, making the beans easier to digest.