If you're tempted by the thought of eating rice and beans to save money, know that a rice and beans diet won't get you all the nutrients you need. However, they are good sources of protein and fiber.
Beans with brown rice is a healthy, nutritious dish eaten around the world — a staple in many Central American and Latin American countries, as well as in the Southeastern United States.
The popular combination is a source of protein and provides part of your daily vegetable and grain requirement. However, eating only beans and brown rice can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
Although it won't harm you to eat beans and brown rice every day, it's best to include a variety of other foods in your diet for complete nutrition.
Combine for a Complete Protein
One of the benefits of eating beans and rice together is that they contain all of the essential amino acids present in protein. While beans and rice, individually, are low in certain types of essential amino acids, each offers what the other lacks.
ChooseMyPlate.gov recommends that you consume 5- to 6 1/2-ounce equivalents of protein per day. A 1/4-cup serving of beans counts as 1-ounce equivalent of protein. Beans are all high in protein, although amounts vary.
One cup of chickpeas has almost 14 grams of protein, while kidney beans have 16 grams of protein per cup, according to the USDA. A cup of brown rice, which counts as two servings of whole grains, has 8 grams of protein, according to the USDA.
Read more: The Side Effects of Beans
Boost Your Dietary Fiber
Brown rice, as a whole grain, and beans, regardless of type, are high in dietary fiber, which provides bulk to your diet. Both have a number of health benefits. Dietary fiber can help reduce constipation, as well as lower blood cholesterol levels.
A cup of brown rice has 4 grams of fiber, while 1 cup of chickpeas has almost 12 grams per serving. One cup of kidney beans also has almost 12 grams of dietary fiber. According to the National Academies of Sciences, the recommended dietary allowance for fiber is 38 grams per day for males and 25 for females.
Get Your Veggies and Grains
In addition to protein, beans and rice also help you reach your daily grain and vegetable intake. Beans are unique in this sense, as they count as a member of the protein group as well as the vegetable foods group.
ChooseMyPlate.gov recommends that you eat between 2 and 3 cups of vegetables per day and between 3 and 4 ounces of grains per day. ChooseMyPlate.gov also recommends that at least half of your grain intake be whole grains, such as brown rice.
Read more: Nutritional Facts of Black Beans
Add Some Variety
While beans and rice is a healthy food choice, especially if you keep the added sodium and fat content low, eating only beans and rice could lead to other nutritional deficiencies.
ChooseMyPlate.gov recommends that you eat a variety of proteins, including vegetarian sources of protein, such as beans, but also recommends that two of your weekly protein servings be seafood — rich in essential fatty acids.
Similarly, for vegetables, beans and peas make up only one subgroup of vegetables, and others, including leafy greens, starchy vegetables and red and orange vegetables, are needed in order to have a healthy, balanced diet.
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: "All About the Protein Foods Group"
- National Academies of Sciences: "Macronutrients"
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: "All About the Vegetable Group"
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: "All About the Grains Group"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Kidney Beans"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Chickpeas"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Brown Rice"
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: What Foods Are in the Grains Group?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: What Foods Are in the Protein Foods Group?