Whether a bean soup dish is healthy or not ultimately depends on the recipe. A basic bean soup might contain just a few ingredients, such as beans and vegetables, and be perfectly healthy. Other bean soups might have added fats or sugars, pushing the calorie count up and the nutrition content down. When choosing from among bean soup recipes, always look at the nutritional breakdown to choose the best available option.
Types of Beans
Some beans are more nutritious than others. This means a bean soup could be more or less healthy depending on which type of bean you decide to use. Adzuki beans have a whooping 294 calories per cup, but lima beans contain only 176 calories. Nutritional content also varies widely depending on the type of beans. Navy beans contain 128 mg of calcium per cup, which is almost as much as 1 cup of cottage cheese. Black beans contain 16 g of fiber, but mung beans contain only 0.16 g. Choosing the right type or the right combination of beans will ensure that your soup is healthy and nutritious.
Whether a bean soup is healthy depends partially in what other ingredients you add. For example, a traditional black bean soup often includes ham, which would increase the number of calories and add saturated fat to the recipe, making it less healthy. Red bean soup often has added sausage and rice, and lentil soup often comes with beef.
Beans are one of the few foods that contain both carbohydrates and protein. They also provide fiber and are low in fat. This combination makes them a good choice if you’re looking for a filling food that is low in calories, but keeps you satisfied and helps control hunger and cravings. Some beans are more nutritious than others. For example, kidney beans are high in iron, with a content of 5.2 mg per cup. Others are high in potassium, such as Adzuki beans, which contain over 1,000 mg per cup. Most beans contain at least 10 g of protein per cup, except for green beans, which only contain 2 g per cup.
Making a Recipe Better
If you're following a specific bean recipe, ensure it's healthy by making a few ingredient replacements. If the recipe calls for meat, use chicken or turkey instead of beef or pork. Don't add oil or add a very small amount and only use olive oil. If you're using canned beans, don't add additional salt, because canned products often have sodium added to them in advance. Use herbs to flavor the soup, so you don't add extra calories to the dish.