Meatless Monday is a dynamic campaign promoting vegetarian eating one day per week. This movement is global. In fact, according to the Meatless Monday website, 23 countries participate at this time and it is growing!

Is this safe for a person with diabetes or one trying to prevent diabetes to eat a vegetarian diet or to try Meatless Monday’s? Could this possibly be a healthy option? The answer to this question is an overwhelming yes! According to the American Diabetes Association, when meals are well planned, eating vegetarian can help prevent and also manage diabetes. (Click this link for more information).

So how do I get started helping myself towards a vegetarian diet? One step at a time! In the next few months, DiabetesCare.net will feature a monthly article to help you learn about different healthy food choices on a vegetarian diet, even if it is only one day per week. This week’s healthy choice features beans.

When eating vegetarian, an optimum meal plan includes a variety of foods including a selection of vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes, whole grain products, nuts, seeds and healthy fats. When people include dairy products in their plans, non-fat and very low-fat selections are the best choice.

So what’s the scoop on beans? They are in the legume family which includes beans, peas and lentils. There are thousands of kinds of edible beans in the world. Statistics from the United States Department of Agriculture show that pinto beans are the leading dry bean crop grown in the United States. Soybeans are considered an oil seed crop and are not accounted for in these statistics. It is interesting to note the common varieties and percentages for United States production:

• Pinto: 42 percent
• Navy (pea): 17 percent
• Black: 11 percent
• Great Northern: 5 percent
• Garbanzo (large chickpeas): 5 percent

Other varieties include light red kidney, dark red kidney, large lima, baby lima, pink, small red, cranberry, black-eyed (cowpeas), small chickpeas, and small white, yellow eye, fava (horse or broad beans), mung, adzuki, marrow, appaloosa, Christmas lima, anasazi, and blackgram beans (important in India). (1)

Nutrition Content of Beans for People with Diabetes

Beans, peas and lentils are extremely nutritious. There are approximately 16-25 grams of carbohydrate in ½ cup cooked beans. Fiber content in ½ cup is approximately 6-8 grams. For people following exchange plans count ½ cup cooked beans as one carbohydrate choice plus one lean meat.

Pinto Bean food label (cooked from dried beans no salt or fat added in cooking):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Navy Bean food label (cooked from dried beans no salt or fat added in cooking):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9 Healthy Ways to Include Beans into Your Meal Plan (and aim for a Meatless Monday)

Try beans as part of a healthy breakfast:

1. In a breakfast burrito with a small taco shell, a bit of cheese and lots of left over grilled vegetables.

2. Go British… It is not common to serve baked beans at breakfast (note: the sauce in baked beans adds to the carbohydrate value. The carbohydrate amount for 1/3 cup of vegetarian baked beans is about 18g).

3. Puree cooked beans with your favorite spices and spread on toast.

For lunch:

4. Try the DiabetesCare.net Recipe Center recipe: Red Kidney Bean Curry (Rajma).

5. Make hummus (puree chickpeas with garlic, tahini, lemon juice and a small amount of olive oil). Serve with assorted vegetables, fruit and crackers.

For Dinner

6. Try the DiabetesCare.net Recipe Center recipe: Chickpea Rice (Channa Chawal).

7. Try the DiabetesCare.net Recipe Center recipe: Bean Burgers.

General information:

8. Research new and interesting facts about dried beans. Go to the United States Dry Bean Council website.

9. Use canned beans to save time. Rinse the beans in a colander for a few minutes to reduce the sodium content.

As you can see there are many ways to use beans as part of a healthy meal plan. These options will help you get started in planning a Meatless Monday and testing if this is for you! Please make your meals interesting and enjoy!