Beans are thought to be one of the earliest cultivated crops on the planet. They can be divided into two main groups: green or snap beans, of which you can eat the whole thing, and shell or dried beans, which must be shelled before eating. There are many different types of beans within these two groups, like black beans, black-eyed peas, cannellini, chickpeas, kidney beans, lima beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans and navy beans, and all host a multitude of nutrients.
Beans are rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants, containing folate, magnesium, iron, phytates, potassium, protein, fiber, vitamin B6 and zinc. Health benefits of beans include antioxidative effects, decreased rates of cancer progression, lower cholesterol levels, improved asthma symptoms, reduced blood pressure and stabilization of blood sugar levels. Beans also have an extremely low glycemic index, which means they make you feel fuller for longer.
With so many different types of beans, it’s best to know which ones are the healthiest to include in your child’s diet. Lentils are one of the most popular, as you can include them in many dishes like soup, salad and risotto. Black beans and kidney beans are also popular, and green beans are great to serve up next to some meat and other vegetables. Because they’re so versatile, you can experiment with lots of different recipes that are child-friendly, like Mexican tortillas, quesadillas, home-made nuggets, hamburger patties, or even protein bars.
To give your child the best start in life, it’s vital that they receive as much nutrition as possible. Though it can be hard at times, and most of the food might just end up on the floor, introducing them to a balanced, healthy diet as early as possible will set them up with healthy eating habits that will (hopefully) stay with them throughout life.