THE BLOG
03/22/2016 11:13 am ET | Updated Mar 22, 2016

The Magical 99-cent Superfood

This superfood is not located on the outer perimeter of the grocery store. It is not necessarily grown in an exotic location. It's a processed food and accessible to almost anyone who shops at a large grocery store. The food has a well-known theme song. You also can purchase them on the cheap. Like literally less than a dollar.

Give up?

To clarify, in general I'm not a big fan of the word superfood.

No single food will ever make up for an overall poor dietary pattern, no matter how much kale you eat. God knows nutritious foods need the marketing support that soda, sugary breakfast cereals, and fast food benefit from.

If the term enticed us to eat more blueberries, salmon, and other nutritious food, that would be great; however, when these foods take on magical properties and hyperbolic claims, it makes my dietitian blood boil.

The term "superfood" as we know it today is silly because it is basically code for "grown 15,000 miles away in a remote mountain range and sold at a premium." As far as I am concerned, all whole, minimally processed, plant-based foods are superfoods. Are goji berries healthy? Sure. So is an orange.

If we did use the title for a food, my vote would be for canned chickpeas (insert your favorite canned bean).

Canned beans are a superfood in my book for many reasons.

Eating more canned beans can help bump up our measly fiber consumption. On average, we consume only 16 grams of fiber per day compared to the 21 grams of fiber found in a single can of chickpeas. Eating beans regularly has also been linked to better health with a lower risk of heart disease, colon cancer, and hip fracture incidence.

Canned beans also go against the grain of the perceived and real challenges for eating nutritious food by being convenient, accessible, and affordable. Due to this fact, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) wisely includes them in their food package. Their shelf stability can also play a key role in decreasing the amount of food we waste and increasing access to healthy options in food deserts.

If you care about sustainable agriculture, you should eat more canned beans too. On a per calorie basis, beans have some of the lowest carbon emissions. They also have the unique capability of nitrogen fixation, which means they help farmers keep their soil healthy too.

For the purists out there, please continue to eat your dry beans! They're more affordable then canned varieties and arguably better flavor wise. In a world when even breakfast cereals are too cumbersome, the cooking times for dried beans are out of the reality and desire for most schedules.

When shopping for canned beans select options that have low-sodium or no sodium on the label. It's always best to take control and add your own salt to recipes.

For people that are really bothered by the metallic flavor of canned beans, The Food Lab recommends using a strainer to remove all the excess liquid, since this is the biggest contributor to that taste.

Start slowly with your bean intake. Add a ½ cup of canned beans each week to your diet until you reach the recommended three cups. Once you adjusted to the higher fiber intake, don't be afraid to continue to increase.

From the environment to our colons, canned beans are a win-win for everyone involved. Celebrate the declaration of 2016 as the year for pulses by adding or increasing them in your diet today.

Listed below are tasty recipes that will have you saying "more beans please!" in no time.

Canned Beans for the Win Recipes

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