You don’t have to be a vegetarian to take advantage of the high quality protein available from beans. With beans, you can get the protein your body requires without having to worry about harmful saturated or trans fats you may get from animal food sources. Beans are easy to incorporate into your diet. You can serve them in an omelet, toss them chilled into a salad, roll them up in a whole-wheat tortilla, or just include them in your meal as a tasty side dish.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says protein should comprise 10 to 35 percent of your daily caloric intake. Because most beans contain about 15 grams per cup, you can get 9 to 30 percent of your protein needs met from just one serving (based on eating 2,000 calories a day).
The richest source of plant-based protein is soybeans. They provide more than 28.5 grams of protein per cup. Cooked kidney and black beans provide about 15.25 grams per cup, navy beans provide 16 grams and pinto beans 15.5 grams per cup. Lima beans are also rich in protein, providing 14.5 grams per cup, and garbanzo beans, which are used to make hummus, provide 14.5 grams. Refried beans have 14 grams of protein in a cup, but remember to use the vegetarian variety, as traditionally prepared refried beans contain lard.
The protein in beans does not contain all the amino acids necessary for the human body. If you include meat, dairy or seafood in your diet, you will have all the essential amino acids. If you are vegetarian or vegan, however, include some other type of protein within a 24-hour period. You can use nuts, brown rice, oatmeal, or whole wheat.
Many people find beans make them gassy. Here’s a tip to avoid that problem. Put dry beans on to boil for 2 or 3 minutes in a mixture of one pound beans to 10 cups of water. Take the pot off the stove and cover, then set it in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, rinse them thoroughly, then using one part beans to three parts liquid, cook until tender. According to the Mayo Clinic, the precooking and refrigeration breaks up 90 percent of the indigestible carbohydrates.