National Bean Day, was January 6th, a time to celebrate beans in all their sizes, shapes, and colors. Chili Smith is celebrating beans all the time – and especially in January! Green, red, black, lima, and soy are just a few examples of the types of beans we can salute on this special day. Approximately 40,000 bean varieties exist in the world!
The versatile bean can also be prepared in thousands of different ways—including main dishes, sauces, condiments, and even desserts! National Bean Day is celebrated every year on January 6th in honor of Gregor Mendel (who died on January 6, 1884). Mendel was an Austrian monk who discovered the principles of heredity by studying bean and pea plants in his garden. A pioneer in his field, Mendel is considered to be the father of modern genetics.
The History of the Bean
Humans have been eating beans for a long time. In fact, archaeological evidence suggests that beans have been a staple food across cultures and continents for thousands of years. Studies show that beans were eaten in Thailand over 9000 years ago, and around the same time fava beans were being gathered in Afghanistan in the foothills of the Himalayas.
Beans were also prominent in ancient Egypt where they were left in the tombs of ancient Egyptian kings as a symbolic way to feed the departed souls in the afterlife. The first cultivated bean (a large-seeded broad bean) appeared 4000 years ago in Europe, and archeologists have also found evidence of the existence of beans in Peru around the same time.
Beans played an important role in the history of the New World too. When colonists arrived in North America, the Native Americans showed them how to grow beans with corn so that the bean plants would grow tall by climbing on the cornstalks.
The Healthful Bean
An extremely healthful choice for a meal or a snack, beans are an important source of protein, fiber, folate, zinc, iron, and magnesium. Antioxidant-rich beans are also low in fat and high in intact carbohydrates. They are a member of the Fab Four—the four categories of foods you should include in your diet daily.
A study in the Journal of American College of Nutrition found that people who consumed beans regularly had a 22 percent lower risk of obesity and were more likely to have a smaller waist than people who did not eat beans.
Aside from promoting heart health, controlling weight and increasing longevity, eating beans may also lower blood cholesterol, reduce inflammation, help prevent cancer, stabilize blood glucose levels and prevent diabetes, and improve gut health.