Dr. Wonson’s Kitchen: Kidney Beans
Posted on Nov 12, 2014
As you look around, you’ll realize that most of what we eat and drink nowadays comes ready to sit on a shelf or hang out in your refrigerator for several months, if not years. I can’t argue that this isn’t convenient in many ways, but it’s definitely not how our bodies evolved to eat and drink. Food (the natural, untouched stuff that you find on the outer edges of the grocery store or in your local farmer’s market) isn’t meant to last forever. It breaks down, it changes flavors, and eventually it rots. This isn’t a bad thing- if time alone can “digest” food, then our bodies can, too. However, the long-lasting foodstuffs lining the aisles of our grocery stores are full of added preservatives and artificial flavors that our bodies just aren’t able to process. Take sulfur, for example. Naturally-occurring sulfur is present in many foods, such as cabbage, onion, egg yolk and garlic, and has a drying effect on the system. This drying effect gives it anti-inflammatory properties, which help the liver function as efficiently as possible. Man-made sulfites utilize this drying effect to prevent the growth of mold in packaged foods and beverages. The problem is how these two substances interact with the body. Naturally-occurring sulfur compounds are broken down, utilized and then processed out of the system. Man-made sulfites, on the other hand, are unable to be processed as easily, so they build up in the body. When these harmful sulfites accumulate they can cause headaches, insomnia, and a wide variety of other symptoms. Unfortunately, identifying added sulfites can be pretty tricky. You may recognize that the fast food you’re eating is rough on your body, but what about the substances that are supposedly healthy? The salad bar at your local restaurant may seem like a harmless choice, but the lettuce is likely preserved by sulfites, as are the dried fruits you keep in your car for a snack and the glass of wine you’re drinking with your dinner, along with countless other common items.
If sulfites are all around us, the most dedicated and health-conscious consumers amongst us will still have trouble avoiding them. Even if we focus on a diet rich in fresh vegetables and homecooked meals, chances are likely that sulfites will sneak in sooner or later. This is why I like to recommend that my patients lend their liver and kidneys a helping hand by incorporating kidney beans into their diet.
Kidney beans contain the trace mineral molybdenum, an important component of the enzyme sulfite oxidase, which helps to break down man-made sulfites and ease the pressure on your internal organs. Because of this, eating kidney beans regularly is a smart and easy way to compensate for the preservative-laden modern world. I recommend them in particular to my wine-loving patients, since I find that eating them every day or every few days can really help the liver to function optimally and get your body running as smoothly as possible. If you’re not a wine drinker, kidney beans can help clear your system of the preservatives hiding in the foods in your local restaurants, grocery stores, and even pantry.
During the autumn season, kidney beans are the perfect ingredients for a hot, satisfying bowl of chili. For a simple and easy preparation, I place dried kidney beans in a large bowl, cover with water and leave to soak overnight. In the morning, I drain the soaking liquid and throw the beans into my crock pot. I’ll dice an onion, mince a few cloves of garlic, and maybe chop some bell peppers or green beans as well. Everything goes into the pot, along with some homemade stock or water and some cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. If I have ground beef on hand, I’ll brown it in a pan and throw that in as well. Then I let everything cook until the beans are soft and the chili has thickened up nicely. It’s important to make sure the beans cook until they are totally soft when pierced with a fork, since under-cooked beans can sometimes cause stomach aches and intestinal distress. My crock pot does all the work for me, and I end up with a delicious and filling meal I can take for lunch or serve for dinner. If you like having a more precise recipe to follow, you can try this one: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/slow-cooker-chili-ii/ Try experimenting with kidney beans and before you know it, your taste buds and your body will be sure to thank you.
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