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Category: Food



Introduction and description

Although the heading says beans, this section covers a number of related seeds that are also more correctly known as edible legumes and pulses.  It also includes peas.

Although pulses [lentils, split peas, etc] are technically grains, it is not helpful to classify them nutritionally this way.  They are a ‘leguminous crop’ and play a key role in crop rotation due to their ability to fix nitrogen.  So key are they in this respect that the United Nations declared 2016 the UN International Year of Pulses!  So beans and pulses are a separate category nutritionally on this site.

What marks out all these seeds is that they are usually found in a pod – a soft shell that protects them whilst they are maturing - and they tend to get eaten when they are soft themselves being a lot more palatable when they are young than when they get old and starchy and ready to become shed by the plant.

When they are very young the seed and the pod may be edible – both raw and cooked, but as they mature the seed is eaten and it is usually cooked. Some examples include 

  • Chickpeas - the base of humous and numerous stews and middle eastern recipes
  • Black eyed peas - makes a good alternative to kidney beans in chilli and with an avocado salsa and sour cream
  • Peas – baby peas, mange tout, Marrow fat or mushy peas
  • Lentils - red, Puy, green, brown etc
  • Pigeon peas
  • Borlotti beans - a good addition to many Italian dishes
  • Butter beans - delicious creamy beans when of good quality they can be eaten as a vegetable with maybe just a sprinkling of fresh herbs
  • Runner beans - only delicious when fresh and the pods snap, this is one vegetable where the beans should be very small and you eat the pod
  • Broad beans - eat them when young, they are delicious with parsley sauce and ham
  • Green beans - which are generally eaten for their pods
  • Kidney beans – which are poisonous unless they have been boiled at high temperatures for some time
  • Soybeans - the staple of many eastern dishes good in salads
  • Haricot beans - which are the beans in baked beans
  • Flageolet beans - tiny little green beans delicious with lamb stew
  • Adzuki beans - which are a delicious replacement to kidney beans
  • Mung beans - also used to make bean sprouts
  • Jack beans - a little known bean which has interest medicinally
  • Black gram or Urad dal - used in Indian cookery

Coffee is technically speaking a bean, although we roast it and drink it rather than eat it, and cocoa beans are also beans. Both these are covered separately however, although they may share some properties of beans as a whole.

And they have healing properties [unless you happen to be like Pythagorus].

In order to see the very specific constituents and medicinal activity of each bean, then follow the links.  In this section we have grouped together observations that are more general in their findings and apply to beans as a whole.


The family in which edible beans are found – the Fabaceae or Leguminosae family – contains both edible and inedible beans. Some of the beans in this family are extremely poisonous. Lupin seeds for example will kill you if eaten, as will the seeds of wisteria. And interestingly enough some of the beans are poisonous to just a few unfortunate people, as they were to Pythagorus.

Legumes are notable in that most of them have symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria in structures called root nodules, they thus make very good natural fertilisers in vegetable gardens if left to rot naturally after you have picked the food crops.

Some of the beans above have some quite interesting health giving properties.  All of them contain fibre and are natural laxatives, some contain sulphur.  Sulphur is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, and appears to be also anti-viral in some cases. Its other use appears to be as a chelation agent.

The white bean varieties are a rich source of Ferulic acid and may help those with Dementia and Alzheimers.  One of the reasons they can do this is because Ferulic acid is an anti-oxidant, but it too appears to be a chelation agent which means it may be able to get rid of various toxins in our bodies.  


Cooked in salads, with rice, as a vegetable, in stews, for example chilli con carne, the possibilities are enormous.

How it works

Healing, each observation explains how.


  • Inexpensive
  • Tasty
  • Simple
  • Versatile


  • Some people are allergic to beans.
  • They can give you wind and make you fart.

References and further reading

Lawrence in the runner beans











Nuts, beans, seeds: high-impact foods, low-impact cost. A diet rich in these foods confers numerous health benefits--and gives a big bang for your food buck. [No authors listed] Duke Med Health News. 2012 May;18(5):6. PMID: 22649832

Rice, Beans, heath, education: Public Health Policy in Brazil.Matida Á. Cien Saude Colet. 2011 Mar;16(3):1669,1668. PMID: 21667569

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