Black beans, rice blend with peppers, onions and garlic for a spicy taste of Cuba

Cuban-Style Black Beans and Rice has 12 grams of fiber per serving.
Cuban-Style Black Beans and Rice has 12 grams of fiber per serving.

Beans of any kind — black, red, garbanzo or pinto — are packed with a unique mix of critical vitamins and minerals, including folate, iron, potassium and magnesium.

Folate is a B vitamin that helps prevent neural tube defects (brain and spine defects known as spina bifida) in newborns when their mothers consume enough during pregnancy.

One-half cup of black beans provides more than 30% of your daily folate needs. They’re also good sources of protein and fiber, and they contain no cholesterol and very little fat. On the fiber front, every half cup of beans supplies 4 to 8 grams. Nutrition experts recommend that healthy people get 25 to 35 grams of fiber each day.

A bonus: Beans digest slowly, meaning they give you sustained energy.

Studies show that consuming one-half cup to a full cup of beans each day lowers your risk for heart disease and some cancers such as breast, stomach, colorectal, kidney and prostate.

You can soak dried beans or buy them canned. However, if you use canned beans, be sure to rinse them to lower the sodium content. Some studies have found that rinsing rids beans of 30% to 40% of sodium.

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Beans can be tossed into countless dishes, including salads, sandwich spreads, soups and sides. You can enjoy them in today's recipe for Cuban-style black beans and brown rice. It's an excellent source of fiber with 12 grams per serving. Serve it as a side dish or as a meatless meal on its own. It’s tasty, budget-friendly and packed with nutrients.

Cuban-Style Black Beans and Rice

Serves: 6 / Prep time: 10 minutes / Total time: 30 minutes

1 cup brown rice

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 large green bell pepper, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, chopped

1 large yellow bell pepper, chopped

1 small yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons oregano

2 teaspoons cumin

½ cup water

1 tablespoon bacon bits

¼ cup chopped cilantro (optional)

Cook rice according to package directions.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté peppers, onion and garlic in oil until tender. Add the black beans, vinegar, oregano, cumin and water. Simmer, covered for 10 minutes. Mix in the bacon bits. Serve beans over the rice. Garnish with chopped cilantro if desired.

From Henry Ford LiveWell.

270 calories (11% from fat), 3.5 grams fat (0 grams sat. fat, 0 grams trans fat), 52 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams protein, 214 mg sodium, less than 1 mg cholesterol, 87 mg calcium, 12 grams fiber. Food exchanges: 2 starch, 3 vegetable, ½ fat.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Black beans and rice dish offers a nutrient-rich taste of Cuba