Joanne Slavin, a professor at the University of Minnesota and a member of the committee that wrote the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, said at the Institute of Food Technologists' Wellness 12 meeting that beans, pulses and legumes are a good source of protein, fiber, and nutrients such as potassium and folate.
However, most Americans do not eat enough and when they do report eating beans, the most common form is refried, Slavin said.
The guidelines recommend half a person's plate be vegetables and fruit, the other half grains and protein, and a serving of dairy be included with the meal. In the guidelines, beans, pulses and legumes are permitted to go on either side of the plate -- although not both -- at each meal.
This does not include green beans or peas, which are grouped with other vegetables, Slavin added.
Brian Larson, vice president of research and development for JG Consulting Services LLC, said specialty grain legumes, such as sweet white lupin, pigeon peas and heirloom/heritage beans, can add nutritional value to many recipes, including bakery products and frozen waffles and pancakes. They also can act as a meat substitute, a soup thickening and fortification agent, or as a potato substitute or side dish in frozen entrees.
These specialty grains add protein, resistant carbohydrates and healthy fiber without adding gluten, Larson added.