Vegan For Runners

Vegan For Runners

Written by Scott Fickerson – totalruncoaching.com (guest writer and podcast guest)
Edited by Sandra Gentleman

Vegan For Runners

How can someone who eats only leaves and twigs be a strong runner? Isn’t that what many people facetiously think that vegans are eating?! Of course, I jest, but the crux of the question is an honest one: if one isn’t getting their protein from animal sources, how can it be possible to be an athlete or a runner? How will we have enough energy? Read on to learn exactly how I, without really even trying to, get up to 2.5x the daily RDA of protein without eating a single bite from animal foods!

grocery store cart

Recovery – Fuel and Sleep

The key to being a successful runner of course begins with the training, but the real secret comes in what you do after the training: the recovery. The two most important aspects of recovery are how you fuel your body and how you sleep. We will put the sleep part aside for now, to bed if you will, and focus on fuel.

When you think of fuel, think of the calorie. While you might think of a calorie as the creature who sneaks into your closet at night and tightens all of your clothing, it’s actually just a unit of measurement of the energy found in food.

Post Run – Snack Ideas

My favorite post run recovery snack is dates and trail mix. If I’m recovering from a long run or hard workout, I will start with a homemade smoothie filled with dark leafy greens, berries, banana, dates and some seeds like hemp and chia.

Tree Nuts

This liquid recovery speeds the digestion and subsequent absorption of nutrients thus speeding the recovery process. A short time later, I will have a more substantial meal like a tofu scramble, granola with fruit or savory oats.

cans beans

Protein Building Blocks – Amino Acids

You can think of the protein in your body like a brick house. The bricks in this case are amino acids. There are 20 types of amino acids, 9 of which must be consumed in the food you eat. With only a very few exceptions, you can get all of those amino acids from plant-based sources. Your body does not discriminate between amino acids from plants or animals. An amino acid is an amino acid and if we need some to build a new structure like a muscle cell fiber, our body will use them. Our body is also extremely adept at re-using amino acids, so when our muscles get damaged during a workout, it will flush out the broken down amino acids and shuttle the others to something known as the “amino acid pool”. When your body needs to repair muscle fibers, form a new hormone, create an enzyme or build any number of proteins in the body, it simply draws upon the amino acids found in the amino acid pool and gets to work.

blood sugar management

So if you choose to avoid eating animal products, you simply need to eat a wide variety of plant based foods to get all of your essential amino acids and you will be well-fueled to power your recovery after training. Getting sufficient calories is important no matter if you are an omnivore or an herbivore, so if you are new to eating plant-based you will probably find your portion sizes need to increase and you may need to eat a bit more often. Like doing anything new, there is an adjustment period and it’s important to be patient and kind to yourself. Counting your calories in vs out by using a nutrition app such as Chronometer or My Fitness Pal is also very helpful to ensure you are taking in sufficient calories. It’s also important to keep an eye on your weight and ensure you are maintaining weight when transitioning from an omnivorous diet to a plant-based one. If part of your goal is to lose weight, then limit your weight loss by managing calories to 1-2 lbs loss per week.

Plant-Based Protein

There are some plant-based foods that are more protein dense than others and so if you want to emphasize protein post workout, you can gear these into your post-run meal. Legumes, aka beans and lentils, are packed with protein as are nuts and seeds. Yes, like the children’s song says, “eat beans with every meal!”. Close behind are your whole grains especially the powerhouses buckwheat, quinoa and teff. You may be surprised to learn that per calorie, broccoli has more protein than a steak, so you can also eat all of your veggies and rest assured you are getting your amino acids as well!

bean soup

Let’s sum this up with a quick sample menu for a day. This is how a day for me might look and could easily look for you as well!

Sample Menu for Long Run or Workout Day

*On a day like this I would expect a person of my size and speed to burn roughly 4000 calories with this run and my normal daily BMR

6:00 a.m. – wake-up and eat a banana, a home-made oat bar w/ chia and hemp seeds and drink some tea

7:00 a.m. – 15 mile hilly trail run for 2 hours 

Consumed during run in addition to water: 1 scoop UCAN energy drink, 4 medjool dates

9:00 a.m. – (while stretching and warming down) – smoothie with dates, banana, buckwheat, hemp seeds, spirulina, maca powder and water

10:00 a.m. – (After warm-down and shower) – Savory Oats w/ veggies, greens, avocado, pumpkin seeds and Nooch!

1:00 p.m. – lunch of veggie pita sandwiches with homemade beet hummus

3:00 p.m. – apple and orange as a snack

5:30 p.m. – Dinner of Brussel sprout /butternut squash “hash” with smoky marinated tempeh

Totals ~3950 Calories
Protein: 147g – 15%
Carbohydrates: 688g – 70%
Fat: 72g – 16%
Fiber: 142g

Email Coach Scott for more at totalruncoaching@gmail.com

For more information about Scott’s program – go to totalruncoaching.com

Scott has a Master’s Degree in Human Performance and is currently an associate professor of Health at Santa Barbara City College.

Listen in to Episode

Tune in to Episode # 48 My Wife The Dietitian to hear the interview with Scott Fickerson

Podcast – Sandra Gentleman

My Wife The Dietitian Podcast
Is Soy Yogurt High in Sugar?

Is Soy Yogurt High in Sugar?

Written by Aly Bouzek, MS, RDN
Edited and updated by Sandra Gentleman, RD

What is Yogurt?

 

Dairy yogurt is made by fermenting milk with culture (also known as bacteria). All yogurts have active cultures (live bacteria) and some are a probiotic that can help with gut health. 

Common bacteria that’s used to make yogurt includes Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. The bacteria’s job, besides giving yogurt its distinctive flavor, is to create lactic acid from the lactose (milk sugar). And then, voilà! You’ve got yogurt. 

Not only is yogurt delicious, but it also has many nutrients that are beneficial to your health. Let’s discuss the differences between dairy yogurt, Greek yogurt, and plant yogurts. We’ll also learn more about the different types of plant yogurts and how to shop for the healthiest versions.

Dairy/Regular Yogurt

 

Dairy yogurt is a great source of calcium, protein, vitamins B6 and B12, riboflavin, potassium, and magnesium. These are all important nutrients that, when combined, can offer a lot of health benefits. 

Calcium is notorious for supporting bone health. It’s what helps make your bones hard and strong. Calcium’s other roles in your body include muscle contraction, nervous system communication, hormone release, and blood vessel activity.

Cheese has calcium

Even though calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, you still need to make sure that calcium-rich foods are included in your diet. Yogurt is an excellent option to help you get more calcium.

If you’re curious how much calcium you should be consuming, then check out this helpful 

 fact sheet from the National Institutes of Health. 

Other dairy yogurt benefits may include: 

  • Probiotics to aid in digestion and help with the gut-brain connection for mental health
  • Reducing blood pressure
  • Reducing diabetes risk
  • Supporting weight management
  • Soft, moist texture option for those with poor dentition or swallowing difficulty

Dairy yogurt is great for a snack, side, and added to your favorite smoothie recipe. But what about Greek yogurt?

Smoothie

Greek Yogurt

 

Greek yogurt is strained through a cheesecloth before being packaged for consumption. This process produces a yogurt that is thicker and less watery. Because it is in this “concentrated” form, Greek yogurt offers double the protein when compared to regular dairy yogurt. 

Double Protein

There’s one caveat though – Greek yogurt lacks calcium. This is due to the straining process mentioned above. When yogurt is strained to make Greek yogurt, some of the calcium is left behind.

Remember that “watery” portion of yogurt we mentioned? Have you ever opened a container of yogurt and noticed the little bit of water that’s settled on top of the yogurt? That’s actually where a majority of the calcium is found. 

When you open a regular dairy yogurt, and see the water on the top, you’re likely to mix it up until your yogurt is smooth. That’s important because that’s what you’re supposed to do! This allows the calcium to mix back into the yogurt and eventually end up in your stomach. 

With Greek yogurt, that water is strained away, leaving behind less calcium than is found in regular dairy yogurt. Pretty interesting, right?

What is Plant (Yo)Gurt?

Plant-based Yogurts

Plant yogurt, or “plant gurt,” is a wonderful alternative to dairy yogurt. If you’re vegan, have troubles digesting dairy, or are allergic to lactose, then you may want to tune in. 

There are many types of plant yogurts and those include: 

  • Soy yogurt (soygurt)
  • Coconut yogurt (cocogurt)
  • Almond yogurt (almondgurt)
  • Cashew yogurt (cashewgurt)
  • Pea yogurt (peagurt)
  • Oat yogurt (oatgurt)

Plant yogurts offer fiber, have no lactose, and have a lower carbon footprint in comparison to dairy yogurt. 

Nutrition Label

 

There are a few things to keep in mind regarding the nutrition label and the next plant yogurt you grab at the store. 

Check to see if the plant yogurt is plain or flavored. Plain (or unsweetened) plant yogurt is a great choice because it allows you to add whatever toppings you enjoy without added sugar. Adding berries is a great start to sprucing up your plain plant yogurt. 

You’ll want to check the fat content. Low fat is the term used for yogurts with 0%, 1%, or 2% fat. High fat is anything above 2% fat. Opting for a low fat plant yogurt will provide fewer calories, less fat, and can help with attaining a healthy weight. 

When shopping for a plant yogurt, make sure to check out the amount of protein in comparison to the amount of sugar. You’ll want to choose a plant yogurt when the grams of protein are higher than the grams of sugar. You’ll stay fuller longer, feel more satiated, and will have less of a chance of “crashing” later when your blood sugar returns to normal.

Choose Low Fat & Less Sugar

Some plant gurts have added sugar. If this is the case with the one you’re eyeing, then make sure that it has less than 9 grams (2 teaspoons) of sugar per serving. Each 5-6 oz container of yogurt is considered one serving. So, check the nutrition label of those little guys to make sure there are less than 9 grams of sugar. 

We mentioned to make sure that the grams of protein are higher than the grams of sugar. Well, while you’re checking out the protein content, you should make sure that it has at least 6 grams of protein per serving

6 gm Protein Per Serving

Finally, check the plant yogurt nutrition label to make sure that there is at least 10% of the Daily Value for calcium. We’ve already discussed why calcium is so important for our bodies to function, so make sure your plant yogurt can hold its own when it comes to calcium. 

To recap, when choosing plant yogurts (or even regular dairy yogurts), make sure to choose yogurts that:

  • Are plain instead of flavored 
  • Are low fat (0%, 1%, or 2%) instead of high fat (higher than 2%)
  • Have protein grams higher than sugar grams
  • Are less than 9 grams (2 tsp) of sugar per serving
  • Have at least 6 grams of protein per serving
  • Have at least 10% of the Daily Value for calcium 

SoyGurt: Is Soy Yogurt High in Sugar?

 

Soy yogurt is made from soy milk, which is made from soybeans. It’s a good source of protein, is high in potassium, and contains fiber since it is made from a plant source. Soy yogurt is actually higher in potassium than coconut yogurt and oat yogurt. 

Soy yogurt may be sweetened with 1-2 teaspoons of sugar to make up for the milk sugar that it’s missing. That brings up the question, is soy yogurt high in sugar?

Soy Yogurt

Is Soy Yogurt High in Sugar?

 

The amount of sugar in soy yogurt depends on the brand and the flavor. Soy is still a relatively new plant yogurt, so there are not many brands and flavors to date. Today we are sharing 3 different soy yogurt brands. 

Please note that all soy yogurts mentioned below have been converted to 5.3 oz (150 grams) for ease of nutrient breakdown comparison. 

Currently, there is one company in the US that makes soy yogurt – Silk

Silk Soymilk Dairy-Free Yogurt comes in 5 different flavors. All are available as single serving sizes (5.3 oz), except the Plain flavor which comes in a 24 oz tub. Unfortunately, Silk does not yet make an unsweetened version of its soymilk yogurt, so the lowest amount of sugar (Plain flavor) is 4.4 grams per serving. 

Silk Soymilk Yogurt

Here is a comparison of Silk Soymilk Dairy-Free Yogurts:

Flavor
Plain
Strawberry
Blueberry
Peach Mango
Vanilla
Serving Size
5.3 oz (150 gm)
5.3 oz (150 gm)
5.3 oz (150 gm)
5.3 oz (150 gm)
5.3 oz (150 gm)
Calories
97
130
130
120
140
Sugar
4.4 gm
12 gm
12 gm
12 gm
16 gm
Protein
6.2 gm
6 gm
6 gm
6 gm
6 gm
Fiber
1.8 gm
2 gm
2 gm
2 gm
2 gm

Additionally, there is one Canadian brand of soy yogurt – Yoso Soygo.

Yoso Soygo

Yoso soy yogurt comes in 4 flavors in the tub size, and 4 flavors in their single-serving multipacks. Yoso, like Silk, does not have an unsweetened soy yogurt. Let’s check out a comparison of Yoso Soygo flavors:

Flavor
Plain
Raspberry
Blueberry
Vanilla
Serving Size
5.3 oz (150 gm)
5.3 oz (150 gm)
5.3 oz (150 gm)
5.3 oz (150 gm)
Calories
103
129
129
154
Sugar
1.7 gm
6.9 gm
7.7 gm
7.7 gm
Protein
6.9 gm
6.9 gm
6.9 gm
6.9 gm
Fiber
1.7 gm
1.7 gm
3.4 gm
6 gm

Finally, from Australia, is Vitasoy Greek Style Soy Yogurt.

Vitasoy

Vitasoy comes in 4 flavors in various tub sizes. Additionally, like Silk and Yoso, Vitasoy does not have unsweetened soy yogurt. Here’s a breakdown of Vitasoy Greek Style Soy Yogurts:

Flavor
Plain (Thick & Creamy)
Hint of Vanilla
Hint of Strawberry
Hint of Mango & Passionfruit
Serving Size
5.3 oz (150 gm)
5.3 oz (150 gm)
5.3 oz (150 gm)
5.3 oz (150 gm)
Calories
128
149
149
150
Sugar
3 gm
9.9 gm
9.8 gm
10.4 gm
Protein
10.1 gm
9 gm
9 gm
9 gm
Fiber
0.4 gm
0.4 gm
0.4 gm
0.4 gm

Wrap-Up: Is Soy Yogurt High In Sugar?

 

The global plant-based food market is supposed to reach about $74 billion dollars by 2027. So, maybe with this expansion additional soy yogurt brands and unsweetened versions will be available. 

Based on this information we can answer the question, is soy yogurt high in sugar? The answer is: it depends. Yoso Soygo’s Plain flavor has the lowest grams of sugar (1.7 grams) out of all the flavors of Yoso, Silk, and Vitasoy soy yogurts. 

Yoso Soygo’s flavors all have sugar that’s less than 9 grams (remember the nutrition label markers to watch for?). So they do fit the parameters, but only the Plain and Raspberry Yoso Soygo flavors have the correct sugar to protein ratio (grams of sugar less than grams of protein). 

Silk’s Plain flavor is the only Silk flavor that has protein grams higher than sugar grams, AND it’s the only flavor that offers less than 9 grams of sugar per serving. 

And finally, Vitasoy’s Plain (Thick & Creamy) soy yogurt is that brand’s only soy yogurt with grams of sugar less than the protein amount – coming in at 3 grams of sugar and 10.1 grams of protein per 5.3 oz serving. 

As you can see, it depends on the yogurt brand and flavor as to the question, is soy yogurt high in sugar? 

If you are looking to try soy yogurt, then we suggest opting for: 

  • Yoso’s Plain or Raspberry soy yogurt
  • Silk’s Plain soy yogurt
  • Vitasoy’s Plain (Thick & Creamy) soy yogurt

If you’re interested in learning more about the different kinds of plant gurts, then make sure to head over to our podcast, My Wife the Dietitian, and check out episode #21. You won’t want to miss it! 

#21 on My Wife The Dietitian to learn all about Plant Gurts on Spotify or Anchor.fm.

Podcast – Sandra Gentleman

My Wife The Dietitian Podcast
Rescued and Redistributed Food

Rescued and Redistributed Food

Rescued and Redistributed Food

By Meredith Cushing, RD, MS, MSHSE (Guest writer and podcast guest)

grocery store cart

Food Price Hikes Lead to Food Insecurity

Food prices at the grocery store have increased on average by 11% with some food items having increased more than 30%.  Food inflation has been almost double that of the overall inflation rate for almost 10 months in a row.  What this translates to is, an increase in food insecurity, the inability to reliably provide oneself with healthy food, having to accept a decline in quality of one’s food and nutrition due to cost, having to skip meals, and sometimes not eating for a day or more at a time because of a lack of funds.  Visits to the Food Bank are up to over 1,000 new clients each month.  And as the price of pretty much everything continues to rise, there is less money left at the end of the day to purchase quality, nutritious foods.

grocery store cart

Food Redistribution Centers

There have been a number of community based initiatives that are helping to reduce the burden of food insecurity.  These range from free programs to low cost and subsidized programs.  One movement that is gaining popularity is rescued and redistributed food.  Food rescue, sometimes called food recovery, is the practice of donating edible food to charities and not-for-profit organizations that is at risk of being wasted by businesses such as restaurants, grocery stores, and produce markets.  Food redistribution takes surplus foods that are at risk of being wasted by food businesses and redistributes them through donation or by re-selling it at a price slash to discount markets, other food businesses, or to charities and other not-for-profits.

Food Waste and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Approximately 58% of all food produced in Canada is wasted or lost every year.  Within produce alone, $3.1 billion worth is rejected every year purely for cosmetic reasons.  Meanwhile, Canada is experiencing the highest increase in food costs since 2010.  There is also an environmental cost to food waste: 8-10% of greenhouse gas emissions responsible for the climate crisis comes from food wasted in the landfill. When food ends up in the landfill it gets covered by other garbage and rots in an anaerobic state – meaning it doesn’t get any oxygen while it decomposes.  This creates methane gas, which is a leading cause of greenhouse gasses that are making a noticeable gaping hole in the ozone layer and significantly contributing to climate change.

Tree Nuts

Preventing Food Waste at the Retail Level

Grocery retailers, restaurants and businesses have taken steps to divert potential food waste through improving procurement and operating procedures as well as shortening supply chains to keep foods fresher, longer.  Retailers also partner with food banks, food recovery and rescue agencies.  With all their efforts, they are still left with a significant amount of food which typically gets sent to the landfill.

cans beans

Food Bank

The Food Bank is one of the most well known and recognized community supports for those experiencing food insecurity.  The food bank helps a variety of individuals, such as students, families, immigrants and unemployed individuals.  By partnering with farmers, manufacturers and retailers to safely recover and redistribute surplus food at every point of the supply chain.  The network of over 4, 750 affiliate Food Banks and agencies supported by the Food Banks Canada is reducing the environmental impact of food waste while helping millions of people escape food poverty.  In 2021 an incredible 191M lbs. of surplus food was recovered by the food banking network.

blood sugar management

Community Fridges

Community fridges are a novel resource popping up in many communities.  “Take what you need. Leave what you can” is the message featured on many of the fridges in Vancouver. The fridges are run by volunteers.  This initiative is designed to help improve food security via a decentralized distribution network. Donations to the fridges are always welcome.  The fridges accept fresh produce (purchased or grown), non-perishable items (dry pasta, rice), canned and dried goods, baked goods and breads, pre-packaged goods, dairy products, frozen meats, beverages (non-alcoholic) and plant-based foods.  Fridges do not accept home cooked meals unless they have been donated by a registered kitchen or restaurant.  A good rule of thumb would be to date and label any donations to the community fridge. A full list of community fridges located in Vancouver is available in the resource section.

weight management

 Photo Community Fridge at Little Mountain, Vancouver

Apps for Discounted Food

Flashfood is an app based program where you can get massive savings on fresh food items like meat and produce that are nearing their best before date at grocery stores across Canada and the US.  Grocers can sell food at 50% off the retail price through the app.  This allows grocers to recover costs and significantly reduce their carbon footprint.  Consumers are able to take advantage of healthier food items like produce, meat and prepared meals that they would ordinarily deem too expensive.  You do have to have a credit card that you link to the app to pay for your order and you require transportation to pick the order up from the store.

beans heart health

Another app based program is Too Good to Go.  Too Good to Go lets customers buy and collect Surprise Bags of food at 1/3 of the price directly from the business.  Everyday, delicious fresh food goes to waste at bakeries, restaurants, hotels and grocery stores – just because it wasn’t sold in time.  Too Good to Go makes sure good food gets eaten, not wasted.  You reserve your mystery bundle on the app then go to the store at the designated pick up time to collect your order.

gi health

Photo of a Too Good To Go mystery bundle from a local grocery store.

Food Rescue Operations

Food Stash is a registered charity located in Vancouver.  They have been in operation since 2016.  Food Stash keeps good, surplus food from going to waste and delivers it to where it’s needed.  Their mission is two fold: reduce the environmental impact of food waste and bridge the food insecurity gap that exists within the community.  Their vision is a sustainable food system that supports healthy communities and a thriving environment.  Food Stash has four main functions; rescue surplus food from grocery stores, wholesalers and farms, deliver rescued food to local charities, deliver weekly groceries to food insecure households for a low fee and their ‘Pay what you feel’ rescued food market that is open to everyone.  They offer healthy perishable food (fruit, vegetables, dairy, and meat). 

PEKO, serving the MetroVancouver Area, is Western Canada’s first online delivery service dedicated to “peculiar” and surplus groceries. Everything they sell is up to 40% off retail prices.  60% of the cost of orders placed for Wednesday delivery is donated to Food Stash. PEKO was started by two students at UBC who saw a need to reduce the amount of food waste that was going into landfills.  Peko Produce specializes in reducing food waste by sourcing this “peculiar” produce directly from suppliers and offering it to consumers at less than grocery store prices. It gives consumers the easy option to purchase highly discounted groceries — and have them delivered — all while helping the planet. On top of aesthetics, being surplus or near the end of its shelf life will also deter a retailer from carrying produce. In order to save all the rejects, Peko Produce sources items from all of these categories, taking both organic and conventional produce, and creating “mystery boxes” with their findings. Each mystery box contains 10 to 12 lbs of peculiar and surplus produce and nine to 10 varieties of these “imperfect” local and exotic fruits and vegetables.

bean soup

Photo of mystery box or “peculiar” produce.

How To Donate to Organizations

Thinking of donating to one of these organizations? There are some rules, tips and etiquette for donating to various programs to make the most of your donation.

  • Always consult with the organization first before donating to find out what food items they need. Most organizations operate on very tight budgets with limited resources to receive, sort, store, or use donated food so it is important to only donate food they can use to help keep their costs down.
  • Donate nutritious foods.  Most organizations are looking for nutritious food items, such as vegetables and fruits, grains, meat, and dairy products. Avoid donating food and beverages that are high in fat, sugar, or sodium, such as soft drinks, energy drinks, low-nutrient snacks, pastries, and candy. 
  • Ensure the food is safe to eat.  Do not donate unsafe or undesirable food items such as expired baby formula, open or damaged packages of food, or stale bread. Organizations that receive unsafe or undesirable foods will incur costs to dispose of the items.
  • Deliver food donations to the organization.  Deliver donations to organizations instead of asking them to pick up. This will reduce their transportation costs.
  • Give plenty of advance notice.  Give advance notice to the organization when donating food so they can plan ahead to receive, store, and use the food items, particularly foods that require refrigeration or freezing. 

There are also steps that you can take to prevent food waste at home.  Of the 5.14 million tonnes of food that is wasted annually by households in Canada, 63% is avoidable, consisting of food that could have been eaten. For the average Canadian household, that amounts to 140 kilograms of wasted food per year – at a cost of more than $1,100 per year.

  • Plan it out.  One of the most effective ways to reduce food waste at home – and save money – is to plan your meals and shop smart, so you buy only what you need and you use everything you buy.

When making a meal plan for the week, determine first what you can make with the food you already have and then add some of your favourite meals.

Use your meal plan to create a shopping list and then, before you shop, check your fridge, freezer, and cupboards to see what you have and what you need.

  • Use it up.  To help reduce edible food waste at home, use up the food you already have in your fridge, pantry, or cupboard.

Often a quick fix in the kitchen can revive would-be throwaway food items into healthy and tasty meals. For example, soaking wilted veggies in ice water is often enough to reinvigorate them. If they can’t be revived, some veggies you intended to eat raw can still be a tasty ingredient in a cooked dish or in a smoothie.

  • Best before dates. We know that the date labels can be confusing and can lead to food being thrown away or composted prematurely. Learn more about the best before dates so you can avoid throwing out food that is still good to eat. 
  • Keep it fresh.  Storing your food properly will make it last longer and you will end up throwing away less.  45% of food that is wasted at home is produce, often because it wasn’t stored properly.
  • Recipes.  Find delicious recipes and tips for using up extra ingredients and leftovers. 

Be part of the solution and join the rescued food movement today!

taco salad

Listen in to Episode

#43 on My Wife The Dietitian to learn all about Food Rescue and Food Waste Prevention with Meredith Cushing, RD on on Spotify or Anchor.fm.

Podcast – Sandra Gentleman

My Wife The Dietitian Podcast
Black Beans vs Pinto Beans

Black Beans vs Pinto Beans

Black Beans vs Pinto Beans

With the vegetarian movement and the push to incorporate more plant proteins, beans seem like a better alternative to tofu for many.

With the familiar kid chant rhyme “Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart……”, there’s a few considerations to think about.

Beans must be good for your heart and cardiovascular system, but what about digesting them without a lot of gas and bloating?

Memories of sitting on an airplane, after eating baked beans on the last supper before flying helps imprint the memory of the embarrassing flatulence that can happen with beans.

Sit back and relax to enjoy this read, there are some clever techniques when preparing legumes that help to minimize the effects of intestinal gas.

Black Beans vs Pinto Beans Which is healthier?

Black bean burrito, Mexican black bean salsa and black bean brownies are all common recipes that incorporate these dark skinned ‘turtle beans’.

Pinto beans have a history originating from Mexico and Central America. Pinto beans (frijoles) are the main ingredient in refried beans. They are the most popular and widely used legume in Northern Mexico and Southwestern United states.

Black beans vs pinto beans……which bean is healthier is a common question people ask.

Both beans have excellent nutritional profiles for regular use in cooking, but one comes out slightly ahead for a particular health advantage. The colour gives a certain clue to that advantage.

All legumes are rich in protein, fibre, naturally low in fat and are an excellent source of folate. Folate is a necessary B vitamin to help prevent neural tube defects in newborns and hence essential in pregnancy. Folate also decreases homocysteine levels in the blood, which helps lower the dementia-causing plaque in the brain and is an important nutrient for overall brain health.

There’s evidence that beans may be a key dietary staple for longevity and aging well into older years. Five Blue Zones around the world, where a majority of the population enjoy good quality of life upwards into their hundreds indicate that eating beans at least three times per week help with this longevity. 

Legumes are the fruit or seed of plants of the legume family (such as peas or beans) used for food.

Not all legumes are beans, but all beans are considered legumes.

There are 19,000 different species of legumes and 751 genera of plants.

Common legumes are beans, lentils, peanuts and peas that grow on vines or underground.

Most types of nuts grow on trees, considered ‘tree nuts’ rather than legumes. Walnuts, hazelnuts and pistachios are all nuts that grow in trees. Peanuts grow underground and are classified as a legume. Other beans and peas grow on vines too and not in trees.

Tree Nuts

Good For Your Heart

Black, pinto and other beans are loaded with nutrients. They are a good source of protein that is integral to the immune system, in addition to tissue repair, plus, healthy growth and development.

Legumes, including black beans, pinto beans and other legumes have excellent fibre content which helps lower blood cholesterol (hence, good for the heart), lowers blood pressure, helps with weight management and blood sugar control by improving insulin sensitivity.

cans beans

Blood Sugar Management

A 2020 meta-analysis review article in American Journal of Lifestyle Medication demonstrated that pulses have been shown to influence lipid profiles, glycemic control, and blood pressure, therefore providing a potential dietary tool for disease risk reduction, which may be particulaly beneficial among adults with diabetes. 

A 2014 study in ARYA Artherosclerosis demonstrated that 2027 participants who had frequent consumption of legumes had corresponding lower blood sugar levels. Fiber-rich beans help to slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream to improve blood glucose management for people with diabetes, or those who are trying to prevent the development of prediabetes and diabetes.

blood sugar management

Weight Control

The protein and fibre content of legumes helps with satiety to manage weight. Soluble fibre bulks, gels and expands in the intestines and moves slowly through the GI tract. This helps reduce feelings of hunger and helps to prevent overeating and weight control.

Plus, studies have shown that grehlin, the hunger hormone decreases with the consumption of legumes, which helps with feelings of fullness and satiety.

Results from the National Health and Nutritional Exam Survey conducted 1999-2002 released in 2008 in the American College of Nutrition stated that bean consumption is associated with less abdominal girth aka belly fat, lower body weight and reduced risk of obesity. 

weight management

Cardiovascular Health

Beans, Beans, they’re good for your heart. With several markers of inflammation lowered with regular legume consumption, beans can help with cardiovascular health.

Nearly 10,000 men and women were followed for 19 years, and those who included legumes at least four times per week had a 22% decreased risk of coronary artery disease, plus 11% lower risk of CVD compared to those who only ate legumes less than once per week.

In a study of a subset of participants, who had diabetes in the large-scale EPIC study, intake of vegetables, fruits and legumes together was associated with a reduced risk of all-cause mortality, as well as risk of death from CVD.
Analyzed separately, the trend towards all cause mortality was true only for vegetables and legumes, but not fruit.
These studies indicate correlation not causation, but offer health incentives to include more beans in the diet.

In a study conducted at University of Saskatchewan published in the British Journal of Nutrition, 108 older adults (age 50+) were given two servings of legumes per day for two months and assessed for cardiovascular disease risk indicators compared to those who were eating their regular diets, with no beans. After two months of consuming beans daily, the subject’s cholesterol dropped. Total cholesterol by 8.3% and LDL (lousy-type) by 7.9%.
Eating beans regularly can help with blood pressure management too.

beans heart health

GI Health

Although some people may have uncomfortable intestinal gas, regular bean consumption has been shown to help reduce diverticulosis, hemmorhoids, intestinal ulcers, gastroesophaeal reflux disease (GERD) and will add bulk to stool to support bowel regularity and prevent constipation.

gi health

Legumes are mother nature’s oxymoron, creating intesintal gas for some, while protecting against diseases of the gut and GI tract for those who regularly eat them.

Lectin is a protein substance in most beans that can cause GI upset for those who eat them undercooked or raw. These toxins can be inactivated by boiling beans for as little as ten minutes. Canned legumes and soaked&boiled beans have their lectin deactivated and are safe to eat.

Reducing Flatulence

To reduce the likelihood of flatulence, rinsing canned beans prior to adding to recipes can help with ridding the fermentable polysaccharide sugars that are difficult to digest.
When cooking with pulses, or dried beans and legumes, throwing the water away that they were soaked in helps to reduce the gassy effects when eating the food made with beans.

bean soup

Spice it up

Adding spices to your bean dish will naturally help reduce the gassiness of beans.
Cilantro, cumin, bay leaves, turmeric, fennel, anise and rosemary are all herbs and spices that can help reduce the gassy effects of bean consumption, plus pair well with a variety of bean dishes.

When all else fails, adding Beano (a digestive enzyme tablet), to the mix can also aid in digestion after eating chili or baked beans.

taco salad

Black Beans vs Pinto Beans

Black beans are sometimes referred to as turtle beans and are hard and nutty legumes. Adequate soaking and cooking will ensure they are ready for digestion after eating.

Pinto beans being soft and creamy, can offer a better bean to use for many of the recipes dedicated to black beans, such as hummus, tacos or burritos.

Pinto beans offer both nine grams of protein and fibre per 100 gram serving, whereas black beans offer both eight grams of protein and fiber per 100 gram serving.

Pinto beans have a good source of selenium, due in part to, where they are grown, in selenium-rich soil compared to black beans. Selenium is a micromineral that is important for immune system function and is difficult to attain in regular food consumption.

black and pinto beans

Black beans, owing to their dark black (almost purple hue) , have anthocyanins, a polyphenol healthful phytochemical that acts as an antioxidant, and can protect against cancer.

With their dark colour, black beans have a slight advantage over pinto beans in their nutritional and healthful benefits.

With pinto bean’s versatility in different dishes with their soft and creamy texture, regular consumption of pintos offer beneficial effects for health. 

As variety is the spice of life, black bean dishes can complement regular weekly pinto bean consumption in various recipes to garner the antioxidant effects.

However you use them, all beans and legumes are healthful additions to your kitchen arsenal and can add variety and flavour to your weekly repertoire. Increasing the amount of legumes in your week’s menu will help you (as they say on Star Trek) live long and prosper.

Listen in to Episode

#42 on My Wife The Dietitian to learn all about Beans on Spotify or Anchor.fm.

Podcast – Sandra Gentleman

My Wife The Dietitian Podcast

Sheena’s Journey in Alberni

Sheena takes things to the next level by learning more about what she eats. In this episode a registered dietitian gives Sheena some tips to live by.