March 15, 2011
Beans, Beans… toxic for your heart!?

Did you know that red kidney beans can cause food poisoning? Don’t worry, it’s easy to avoid… you just have to know how to cook ’em!

Many varieties of beans contain the toxin Phytohaemagglutinin (PHA), kidney beans contain the highest amounts. PHA  is a lectin (sugar binding protein in beans) which causes food poisoning when the beans are consumed raw, soaked or under cooked.

If you’re like me, dried beans are a staple food. I’m a big fan of dried beans, as they are a delicious, inexpensive source of protein, iron, and fiber.

When you go to cook kidney beans, make sure you do so either in a pressure cooker or stove pan. Most food poisoning cases are seen when beans are cooked in slow-cookers/crock pots.  Slow-cookers keep food at 180 degrees F, the optimum temperature that increases the toxicity of red beans.

Love kidney beans? Great. Just don’t cook them from a raw state in a slow cooker. Instead, soak the beans in water for at least 5 hours. Replace this water a few times during the soaking process, drain the water and boil beans in new water for at least 10 minutes. Then bring to a simmer and cook until done.

If that seems like a lot of work remember that cooked beans freeze well. Make a big pot, drain and then freeze until ready to use. Dried beans are also cheaper and lower in sodium than their canned counterparts.

Once you make your own beans from scratch, try one of these recipes:

Enchiladas a la DK

Rustic Corn Chili with Polenta

Ma! The Chili

What are your favorite kidney bean recipes?

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, Plant-Based Chef and Yoga Instructor. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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