Bean is a common name for large plant seeds used for human food or animal feed. Beans are an important source of protein throughout the world. Currently, there are about 40,000 varieties of beans, although only a fraction them are mass produced for regular consumption.
Not only are there so many varieties of beans, but there are so many ways to cook them. Some raw beans, such as red beans and kidney beans, contain a harmful toxin that must be removed by cooking. A recommended method is to boil the beans for at least ten minutes. Undercooked beans may be more toxic than raw beans. Cooking beans in a slow cooker, because of the lower temperatures often used, may not destroy toxins even though the beans do not smell or taste bad even though this should not be a problem if the food reaches boiling temperature and stays there for some time.
Beans have significant amounts of fiber and soluble fiber, with one cup of cooked beans providing between nine and 13 grams of fiber.Soluble fiber can help lower blood cholesterol. Beans are also high in protein, complex carbohydrates, folate, and iron.
Beans come in different colors and shapes. For example, Great Northern beans are beans that are white. They are also light in flavor. They have a shape like a lima bean except it is a little bit shorter than a lima bean. The kidney bean is named after its shape and color. It is named for its visual resemblance in shape and color to a kidney. Kidney red beans can be confused with other beans that are red, such as azuki beans. In Jamaica, they are called "red peas." Kidney beans are more toxic than most other bean varieties if not pre-soaked and subsequently heated to the boiling point for at least 10 minutes. The U.S Food and Drug Administration recommends boiling for 30 minutes to ensure they reach a sufficient temperature for long enough to completely destroy the toxin. The black bean is also identified by its color.
Some beans are known by the meal they create such as baked beans which are really navy beans. The dish is made with molasses, brown sugar, and ketchup to create a wonderful old-fashioned baked bean flavor.
With so many beans available, eat some of any kind on National Eat Your Beans Day. Also, see how many beans you can identify by these pictures.