Ayurveda teaches that spring is the time of year when we gradually switch to lighter fare in order to reduce mucous and heaviness (Kapha) that has been building since mid-winter. While every body type is slightly different, in general, spring is a good time to gradually reduce your use of oils, red meat, nuts and sweeteners. Instead, begin to re-introduce more of the bitter and astringent greens that reduce Pitta and Kapha and that we naturally eat less of during the winter. Foods that are light, dry and warm are preferable during the spring. Taper off foods that are heavy, oily and cold. Favor foods that are spicy, bitter and astringent, and minimize foods that are sweet, salty and sour. You can recognize the astringent taste by a strong puckering or drawing effect on the throat and mouth.
Beans are one of the best foods for astringing the tissues, which means that they help constrict or reduce body tissues. Typically, considered sweet and astringent, beans represent a nice replacement for other proteins and red meats, which we should consume less of this time of year. According to www.americanbean.org, “They help build all the seven types of body tissue, especially muscle tissue, which makes them especially important for individuals on a vegetarian diet” or those eating less meat.
Beans are part of the legume family. “Legumes—a class of vegetables that includes beans, peas and lentils — are among the most versatile and nutritious foods available,” says www.Mayoclinic.org. Legumes are typically low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium. They also contain beneficial fats and soluble and insoluble fiber. Legumes are said to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and cholesterol and can help manage weight and diabetes. On the flip side, some can cause migraines, raise your blood pressure and interfere with vitamin absorption. They can also trigger gout and excess flatulence. Here’s a quick snapshot of five health benefits and risks from Reader’s Digest.
Most legumes are best consumed in the spring and summer, although mung beans and tofu can be eaten all year ‘round. Recommendations on how to incorporate legumes into your diets can be found in this great article on www.mayoclinic.org.
www.americanbean.org offers the following preparation tips for beans:
“Vegetarian protein from legumes requires some effort to digest and individuals new to legumes will find it very helpful to use spices that help digestion such as asafetida, cumin seeds, fresh ginger, and black pepper. Adding these spices to legume dishes will help to reduce any side effect such as bloating or gas that beans are often associated with.
It is best to add legumes gradually, if they are new additions to your diet. With regular intake, your body will adapt to them and enable you to digest them better. You can increase your intake over time to levels that are comfortable.
There are three basic ways to prepare legumes:
- Legumes are soaked in water overnight and then cooked the next day by being boiled in water. Spices can be added while cooking or lightly fried in oil or clarified butter after cooking. Vegetables and grains may be added while cooking to create hearty stews. These legumes can be poured over rice or used for dipping flat breads such as Indian chapati bread or Middle Eastern pita bread.
- Legumes can be soaked for several hours and then ground into a paste with a food processor to make dumplings, fritters, and desserts.
- Legumes can be ground into flours to make dough for breads and for desserts and puddings.”
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concerns, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained Ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for an appointment. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.