Recent Flourish with Food features focused on specific foods that are associated with slowing the cognitive changes people often experience as they get older. MIND-emphasized foods complement foods associated with the Mediterranean dietary pattern. 

This month’s focus is beans one of 10 specific “brain healthy” foods identified in the MIND pattern.  This pattern encourages beans in at least 4 meals weekly.  This includes all beans, lentils and soybeans.

The trend towards plant-centered eating has taken root. Beans play a starring role. In addition to being an overall nutrient-rich food, this good source of plant protein can replace some or all the meat in meals. (The MIND pattern encourages limiting red meat to 3 times or less weekly.)

Beans’ protein supports muscle mass, bone health, and satiety (feeling full), while providing prebiotic fibers that nourish healthy gut bacteria. Additionally, beans’ fiber helps to manage blood cholesterol levels and healthy blood glucose levels for managing diabetes.  

Canned beans are a time-saver, versatile and budget friendly. However, according to Canned Beans, Open the Possibilities ( only 18% of consumers eat any kind of beans 3 times or more weekly; 33% eat 1-2 times weekly.

Ready on demand…always in season. Simply open the can, rinse with tap water and drain. Or drain the can’s liquid first if you wish to keep it for another use. 

Rinsing canned beans reduces the sodium by 40%.  While lower sodium canned beans are available, the added salt in processing has the functional benefit of keeping the beans firmer and truer in color.

Can’t beat the versatility.  Think of breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and even in desserts.  

Beans can be simply added to burritos, wraps, salads, soups, stews, and even jarred salsa. They’re also perfect for making dips and sandwich spreads. Check out for inspiring ideas and tasty recipes. 

Concerned about the environment?  The growing and processing of canned beans is amazingly water efficient. Their water footprint is 1/3 less than pork’s and 1/5 of beef’s. Growing beans, a rotational crop, nourishes the soil, requiring less commercial fertilizer for best production.

Toss-them-in ideas:

  • Black beans in egg scramble and breakfast burritos 
  • Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) in tossed green salad
  • 3-bean salad onto tossed salad
  • Black beans to prepared guacamole 
  • Kidney beans to cold pasta/veggie salad
  • Cannellini (white beans) to tuna salad
  • Pinto beans to hot rice with chilies-seasoned diced tomatoes
  • Any bean to prepared or canned soups
  • Lentils into prepared or canned tomato soup
  • Canned refried beans on warmed tortilla
  • Black or pinto beans in grain bowls along with shredded cheese, tomato, hot peppers, Greek yogurt and salsa

Fun Facts:

About Mary Lynne Hixson, MA, RD:

Mary Lynne, a registered dietitian, helps others enhance their health through the advocacy of nutrient-rich food choices and safe food-handling practices. Her expertise also includes counseling patients who have Type 2 diabetes and advising those who are in medically managed weight loss programs. After her 35+ year career, she retired and became involved with the launch of Harvest of Hope Pantry in 2012 as a Board of Directors member. Mary Lynne is a weekly volunteer with Cultivate’s Carry-Out Caravan program, shopping and delivering groceries to seniors in the Boulder area, and also a frequent volunteer with Harvest of Hope.