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The brawny bean can keep you satisfied and healthy

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From kidneys and black beans to exotic Appaloosas and pinqito, beans are a feast for the eyes and the taste buds.

Like all fiber-rich foods, beans can help reduce total cholesterol levels, but for lowering the bad and raising the good kind, beans are among the best food sources. A University of Kentucky study shows that a cup of cooked beans a day lowers blood cholesterol levels by an average of 10 percent. Other research shows that regular servings can improve the ratio of good to bad cholesterol by 17 percent.

Beans are a great source of iron, magnesium, and zinc. And the fiber in beans helps lower the risk of several forms of cancer. For diabetics, beans are less likely to raise blood glucose levels than are most other foods.

While beans, cold from the can or baked with tasty flavorings, are a common staple of picnic fare, the black bean has recently come into its own as the basis for great soups and salads.

Black beans can be purchased dried or canned. Dried beans are less convenient. They need to soak overnight and simmer for a long period. If you choose dried black beans, make sure to rinse them thoroughly.

When this bean salad is packed in a pita, it makes a great lunch box item.

Black Bean Pitas

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup chopped red onion, cook and stir for 5 minutes until softened. Add a clove of minced garlic and cook 1 minute. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, and increase to high heat. Add 1/4 cup each of chopped zucchini, red pepper, and frozen corn kernels, thawed. Cook and stir for 4 minutes until browned. Add 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and cook, tossing until vegetables are glazed. Add 1/4 cup cooked black beans, 1 plum tomato, chopped, 2 tablespoons sliced fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried. Stir to combine. Spread 1 tablespoon mayo inside 2 pitas and fill.

Long Island Health, Fitness & Beauty Articles > The brawny bean can keep you satisfied and healthy

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