How to choose the best beans?

Canned beans are the ultimate fast food. You can open a can and toss them into a salad, soup, or stew in 60 seconds flat. Still, they can have two downsides:

Most canned beans are too salty.

But it’s easy to skip the salt. Just look for “no salt added” on the label. You’ll save 250 to 500 milligrams of sodium for every half cup. If you’re tossing your beans into a soup, salad, or other dish, you’ll get plenty of salt from the broth, dressing, or other ingredients.

Want less—but not no—salt? Look for “low sodium” (140 mg or less per half cup) or “reduced sodium” (usually 140 to 240 mg).

You can also cut the salt by about a third if you drain and rinse your beans in water for 10 seconds or so.

Many cans are lined with BPA.

BPA (bisphenol A) is an estrogen “mimic” that’s found in the linings of some cans, in polycarbonate plastic bottles and containers, and in the tops of some bottles, jars, and microwaveable containers. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a part of the National Institutes of Health, has expressed “some concern” about BPA’s “effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children at current exposure levels.”

But “BPA-free” cans that use replacements like the chemical BPS may be no better because these substitutes may not have been adequately tested. Some companies won’t even name what they’re using instead of BPA!

You can lower your exposure to BPA by choosing:

  • Tetra Pak cartons. Try Whole Foods 365 Organic No Salt Added or Target Simply Balanced Organic Low Sodium lines.
  • Pouches. Target’s no-salt-added Simply Balanced Black Beluga Lentils beat Steamed Lentils from Melissa’s (230 mg) or Trader Joe’s (240 mg).
  • Frozen bags. Try no-salt-added cooked beans from Stahlbush Island Farms and 13 Foods, Whole Foods 365 (black-eyed peas), and Seapoint Farms and others (edamame).

Or, you can cook your own dry beans.

No time? Try quick-cooking dry beans. Red lentils are ready in 10 to 15 minutes. Ditto for TrūRoots organic sprouted lentils or mung beans.


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4 Replies to “How to choose the best beans?”

  1. Buy dry beans, cook up a bunch and freeze in 2 cup amounts. Then you have the equivilant of a can of no sodium, the cost is less and you have no garbage/recycling. It’s a no brainer!

  2. Buy a pressure cooker! They cook beans in a fraction of the time. There are many electric models that make cooking with pressure a snap.

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