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New diet, FDA label.
April 14, 2005

New diet guidelines; FDA label boost beans

You know that you are growing a good, healthy food. Now more people are starting to recognize it.

In January, USDA released its new dietary recommendation calling for most Americans to triple the amount of beans they eat. A few days later, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a label that says diets including beans may reduce your risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Food companies may put this label on products that contain dry beans.

It's good news, says Marty Hettervig, a Buxton, N.D., bean grower and a Northarvest Bean Grower Association board member. He serves as a delegate to the American Dry Bean Board (ADBB), a national organization that coordinates dry bean promotion in the U.S.

The guide and label could help increase consumption if consumers actually begin to eat more beans, Hettervig says.

Good press

The USDA and FDA actions have already generated months of good headlines about dry beans.

When it comes to nutrition and good health, you can't beat beans, says Stacey Zawel, executive director of the Beans for Health Alliance.

Why beans are so good

Dry beans are naturally low in total fat, contain no saturated fat or cholesterol, and provide important nutrients such as fiber, protein, calcium, iron, folic acid and potassium.

Their health benefits are consistent with many existing FDA-approved health claims, specifically those related to heart disease and cancer.  Other studies also suggest that healthy diets including beans may be useful to people managing diabetes and high blood pressure.


Currently only one other dietary guidance message is used by the food industry. It states diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of some types of cancer and other chronic diseases.

3 cups per week

The 2005 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend Americans eat more than three times the amount they currently consume.

In many parts of the world beans are an important dietary staple, but Americans are not eating enough, Zawel says.

"Ideally, adults should be eating three cups of beans per week.  This dietary guidance message will illustrate to Americans the importance of including beans in their diet."  

Grilling beans?

To help consumers figure out how to increase bean consumption, the American Dry Bean Board offered these ideas through articles to newspapers and magazines:

*Use beans in spreads. Mash any variety of drained, cooked beans with herbs and spices for a healthy sandwich spread or vegetable dip.

*Grill beans. Add pureed or mashed beans to homemade hamburger patties for flavor and a nutritional boost.

*Make soups. Mix mashed beans into soups as a creamy thickener or make any canned soup healthier and heartier by adding one can or 1 1/2 cups of cooked beans.  For example, add Kidney beans to vegetable beef soup or Navy beans to chicken noodle.

*Add beans to salads. Sprinkle any side or main dish salad with beans, from Black beans to Kidney beans to Garbanzo beans.

*Make bean smoothies. Raise the nutritional value of your smoothie by adding pureed beans.

We know beans are good for you - now the government agrees.  Its new dietary guidelines call for Americans to tripd the amount of beans they eat.  It alsp will allow food companies to put a new label on food products containing dry beans saying that they can help reduce heart disease and certain kinds of cancer.

For more information

For more ideas and recipe suggestions, ranging from traditional beans and franks to blueberry bean muffins, visit the American Dry Bean Board's Web site,


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Northarvest Bean Growers Association | 50072 East Lake Seven Road | Frazee, MN 56544
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