Despite the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) recommendation that we eat at least 3 cups of beans and legumes in our weekly diets, Americans are barely consuming just 1 cup per week, which is tragic because beans and legumes are nutritional forces of nature [source: Johns Hopkins].
Beans and legumes such as black beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, lentils and soybeans are good sources of antioxidants for cell health, as well as B vitamins, folate, calcium, iron, potassium and protein. They're also full of fiber. For example, Garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas, and the main ingredient in hummus) contain as much as 12.5 grams -- that's just shy of half an ounce -- of fiber in just 1 cup of cooked beans. If that sounds like a lot of fiber, it is; it's roughly half of your fiber intake needs for just one day [source: The World's Healthiest Foods]. Beans and legumes contain high levels of soluble fiber, a type of fiber associated with heart health, lower cholesterol levels, blood sugar regulation and weight loss.