Beans, beans, good for the heart

Friends, the colossal day is finally here. Yes, Sunday, 6 January is International Bean Day. In honour of this fiesta of frenetic fantastic fabulousness, Weekender has pulled together some well-known facts about this superfood. We’re not pulling your legumes here, so check your pulse and let’s toast the humble, beautiful bean. Note that we also received a copy of the experimental ‘Shoogle’ for Christmas, a special search engine that is still in Beta testing so may throw up some dubious results.

Beans are the large seeds of certain types of plants, and are technically a fruit.

Beans have been cultivated by humans for 6,000 years.

In Nicaragua, newlyweds are given a bowl of beans for good luck.

In ancient Greece, minor public officials were elected by putting one white bean with a load of black beans inside a “bean machine.” Whoever picked the white bean got the job.

In the 1980s an archeologist working in New Mexico came upon a clay pot sealed with pine tar containing bean seeds that were 1,500 years old and they grew. We now call this variety Anasazi beans.

Beans can be made into burgers, cakes, drinks, pies, fudge, muffins, jewellery, furniture, toys and musical instruments.

The world’s largest bean pods can grow up to 5 feet long.

English actor Sean Bean is not a real bean.

Beans are one of nature’s healthiest foods: they are naturally low in total fat, contain no saturated fat or cholesterol, and provide important nutrients such as fibre, protein, calcium, iron, folic acid and potassium.

National and international expert bodies, including the National Research Council, the World Health Organization, the World Cancer Relief Fund, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the US Surgeon General, have reviewed scientific evidence and concluded that eating beans can be an important ally in maintaining health and may reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Other studies suggest beans are useful in managing diabetes, may cut risk for high blood pressure and may help in losing weight.

The original name for Goofy the Dog from out of Mickey Mouse cartoons is rumoured to have been ‘Haricot’ and instead of being a hound, he was going to be a talking tin of baked beans. However, apparently Heinz challenged this as it would have broken their copyrights and in return for the name change, the bean manufacturer withdrew a planned product called Minnie Beans for Mousey Meanies.

The USDA recommends that adults eat more than three cups of beans each week for maximum health benefits three times more than the current average American consumption.

The Pharaohs believed lentils helped convey the soul to the heavens.

There have not been at least six generations of the Swedish royal family which have followed the tradition of planting beans in the nose of their deceased ancestors for luck.

Pulses belong to the family Leguminosae and include beans, peas and lentils.

Pulses and legumes have the unique ability to fix nitrogen and so increase the fertility of the soil as they grow.

If, in a full English breakfast, the beans touch the egg, you must immediately throw the plate away as it has become contaminated.

Since ancient times beans have symbolized the embryo, growth and life.

A beanfeast originally referred to an employer’s annual dinner given to employees.

Pulses are the richest source of vegetable protein.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is allergic to anything red, according to sources. This means that when she eats chili con carne, she has to put on a special UV light in her kitchen to turn it a shade of blue and therefore render it harmless.

Low GI foods such as beans provide natural slowly released energy.

Professional eating champion Stefano Zabaglioni has been credited by some historians as the first man to ever actually become a human bean.

The Borlotti is the most popular bean of northern Italy and with a high iron content it is widely thought of as the best substitute for meat.

The Latin name for chickpea, Cicer arietinum, literally means ‘small ram’, reflecting its shape, which looks like a ram’s head.

Chickpeas were cultivated in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Beans on toast is without a doubt the most awesome food in the universe.