Harvard Men's Health Watch

Meat or beans: What will you have? Part ll: Beans

Red meat has long occupied a special place in the American diet. Although doctors and dieticians have been hoisting red flags for years, meat has retained its iconic status. In fact, new health warnings have done little to slow the surge in high-end steak houses, to say nothing of the ongoing popularity of hamburger restaurants.

But men who decide to cut down on red and processed meat need alternatives. Fish and poultry are excellent choices. These options are well known, but another has been neglected. It's a humble but healthful choice: beans.

Counting beans

When most Americans think of beans, they think first of garden-type fresh beans such as green beans, string beans and wax beans, and green peas. But nutritionists think first of legumes. Botanists tell us they are characterized by seed-bearing pods and include grain legumes (lentils, chickpeas, and dry beans and peas such as black, lima, fava, pinto, kidney, and navy beans) and oilseeds (soybeans and — surprise — peanuts). Leaving peanuts aside, let's think about the nutrients in legumes.

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