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Healthy Tip: Boost Your Fiber!

By Alana Sugar, February 20, 2009  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Alana Sugar
Beans We always hear that we need to eat more fiber. For most of us, it's true! The recommended intake for fiber is between 25 to 30 grams daily for most adults, but there are plenty of us who only get about half that. We've got to get it together: fiber is really important in maintaining a healthy digestive tract. But why? First thing to know is that fiber is found only in plant foods. It's the indigestible, bulkier part of the plant. And because it's indigestible, it passes through our digestive tract without being broken down. And that's exactly what makes it so important. By adding bulk, it speeds up the transit time of food through our system, and that, in and of itself, can protect us from many illnesses. Fiber keeps us fuller longer too and it helps stabilize blood sugar levels. That's a plus for anyone with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and anyone watching their weight. And when it comes to heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and several other health problems, experts recommend a diet with plenty of fiber. Rice and BeansCup for cup, beans have more fiber than whole grains. They're tasty and easy to incorporate into just about any meal plan. First thing to do is keep your pantry stocked with a variety of canned beans (look for no-salt-added versions if you're watching your sodium) and a few packages of dried beans. A great guide to the many varieties of beans and how to cook them can be found here. Here are some ideas for adding legumes (beans, peas and lentils) to meals:
  • Throw a good-size handful of cooked beans or peas to just about any soup or stew. Some of my favorites are black, navy, pinto and kidney beans.
  • Next time you eat a salad, reach for some garbanzo beans, also called chickpeas. Sprinkle a handful over the top and then toss with your favorite salad dressing.
  • Simmer lentils in a prepared curry sauce. We have some awesome simmer sauces at our stores.
  • Mash a can of vegetarian refried beans with some avocado. Add some cumin, a little organic sour cream, some sea salt and a dash of cayenne pepper. Use this as a dip or a spread for sandwiches and crackers.
  • Mix red kidney beans with cannellini beans and cooked green beans for a great three-bean salad. Toss with cubed fresh mozzarella and balsamic vinaigrette.
  • Make a bean and veggie sauté using carrots, onions, garlic and broccoli florets in olive oil. Stir in some cooked black-eyed peas and season with sea salt and pepper.
  • Steam up a bag of our 365 Everyday Value™ Edamame; then have at it…
  • Serve buttered lima beans with dinner…tonight! The frozen baby limas are delicious.
  • Sauté onions, canned diced tomatoes and green peppers in olive oil. Serve over cooked navy beans along with or instead of pasta, and top with Parmesan cheese.
  • Make bean tacos by substituting black beans for beef (or at least for part of the beef). Great with grated cheese, tomatoes, avocado, sour cream and chopped lettuce!
  • Or simply buy some of our delicious house-made hummus (chickpea spread) and add it to a sandwich or a wrap.
Here are a few recipes from our site that you might enjoy: White Bean Crostini All American Baked Beans Black Beans with Kale and Ham Rice and Beans Be aware that the extra fiber in beans can cause gas or bloating, so go slow to start. When cooking dried beans, I recommend soaking beans for 12 hours or longer, then discarding the soaking water. Cook them in fresh unsalted water with no seasonings at all until they are tender. At that point, add chopped vegetables such as onions, tomatoes, or bell peppers, along with spices such as cumin, garlic, salt, pepper and fresh or dried herbs. Cook a little longer to make sure the flavors meld together. Got a favorite way to eat beans? I'd love to hear about it!
Category: Healthy Eating




Jeremy Wickham says ...
I like to cook dried navy beans all day on a Sunday. Then Monday morning before work, I put the cooked beans in a slow cooker with some cubed red potatoes (skinned), fresh cracked pepper, garlic powder and onion powder and fresh rosemary and a couple pinches of kosher salt. Then when I get home Monday evening I will either cook up some homemade Italian sausage or saute chicken breasts to go with the beans that have cooked for virtually two days. Reminds me of a comfort food to eat on a cold winter day. I also love black beans, there are so many ways I eat black beans I could be here all day long. The latest thing I have done with black beans is make a soup. Cook the beans all day then dropped a couple of my homegrown cayenne peppers (chopped of course) and some ground cumin. Simple, yet very tasty!
02/20/2009 11:23:52 AM CST
Jean says ...
Beans are a great way to get fiber, but I prefer dried beans since they are friendlier one the wallet, and they take up less room on the shelf. Definitely soak them though. One of my favorite way to cook them is in the slow-cooker for chili (still soak them beforehand). It's easy, and you come home from work with dinner smelling delicious and ready to eat. My blog, MindfulEats.com, is all about practical tips for eating, cooking, and living healthy.
02/20/2009 11:54:21 AM CST
Scott MacArthur says ...
Thank you for this article. I realize do not have time to fully read all of it this morning but shall get back to it again later.
02/20/2009 12:40:06 PM CST
Michelle @ What Does Your Body Good? says ...
To help the beans digest more easily, I soak them as long as possible, changing the water a few times. In the final soak I add a 1" piece of kombu. Eden is my favorite brand of canned beans, so when time is of the essence I use those. The ingredient label lists kombu!
02/20/2009 6:28:40 PM CST
Mike says ...
I really enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work!
02/23/2009 10:13:59 AM CST
carole mize says ...
No one has mentioned red beans and rice. I made mine with crumbled hot sausage and a sliced whole sausage. Lots of onion,celery, bellpepper and garlic. Please, more reciepes for one.
02/25/2009 4:31:35 PM CST
Jo Anne says ...
I've been told by my doctor that I need to add more fiber to my diet. I liked how this article gave me some easy and tasty ideas to add fiber without feeling like I'm eating cardboard!
02/25/2009 4:35:44 PM CST
Guy Hartmann says ...
Don't forget red lentils as they cook up fast. I usually use them with rice,a bean salad or in curry.
02/25/2009 5:31:42 PM CST
Debby Chappell says ...
Black bean to replace traditional gravies and sauces. Just puree the beans with a stock of your choice being careful not to use too much liquid. Pour over mash potatoes, vegetables, toasted bread etc.
02/26/2009 7:30:38 AM CST
AnnieM says ...
A quick easy bean soup...dump 3 cans of any kind of beans, (rinsed and drained) into a pot. Stir in 1 can of FF refried beans, 1 can of chicken or vegetable broth, 1 can of diced tomatoes, and 1 can of corn, drained. Add some cumin, garlic powder and chili powder to taste.(Or if you want, a 1/2 packet of taco seasoning mix in lieu of the seasonings) Wonderful, quick easy meal..very filling, too.
02/26/2009 9:58:40 AM CST
Ely says ...
I made a great soup today that I call "chicken everything soup". I used two and a half roasted shredded chicken breast, chicken broth, fresh kale, 2 cans of drained/rinsed white navy beans, fresh garlic, onion, fresh okra, lemon pepper,fresh carrots, fresh celery, organic pasta shells, sea salt and smoked cayenne pepper. I cannot stay out of the pot because it is so delicious!!
02/26/2009 6:04:39 PM CST
Amy says ...
About a year ago, I accidentally discovered that I can go twice as long without feeling hungry if I've had a meal of beans. Love the tips above for reducing gassiness. It's just not a problem when I start with dry beans. Also, the taste and texture is MUCH better, I feel, when starting with dry beans. I make big batch on the weekend, and freeze or refrigerate the left-overs, using them as needed.
02/27/2009 7:58:54 PM CST
Jan says ...
Go here for a great recipe for Red Bean Bourguignon! http://albioncooks.blogspot.com/2006/06/red-bean-bourguignon.html I too have just discovered how delicious beans can be and their ability to make you feel full longer! Enjoy!
02/28/2009 11:42:24 AM CST
Cassie says ...
I love navy bean soup, in fact I am cooking the Whole Foods recipe tomorrow. Any ideas to add turnip and lentils? I'm not a cook so any help would be greatly appreciated.
02/11/2010 12:54:11 PM CST
Irene Kane says ...
Please consider carrying or "making" a low salt variety of your Refried Pinto beans,esp the roasted chili and lime variety. 510 mg per 1/2 cup is very high for a healthy diet. Also, with your packaged turkey deli meat, I encourage a low sodium variety as Trader Joe's carries.
01/16/2016 10:25:56 AM CST