Beans are affordable, versatile, and nutritious pantry staples. They’re some of your best starchy vegetable options, with the majority of their calories coming from carbohydrates, because their carbs are complex (read: high in heart-healthy fiber, good for your gut). Most beans also have an impressive assortment of vitamins and minerals, a low glycemic index (read: a carb that doesn’t wreak havoc on your blood sugar,) very little fat, and a protein punch in every bite.

It’s hard to pick favorites, but here are our top five:

01 Black beans

Black beans are packed with potassium, folate, vitamin B6, and a range of phytonutrients. They also contain anthocyanins, compounds that have been shown to give a little boost to your brain. They can be enjoyed at any meal –  in breakfast burritos, taco salads, satisfying soups, better-for-you burgers, delicious dips, and even brownies! You read that right, black bean brownies. We were skeptical too until we tested the recipe for this gluten-free treat.

a close up of a fruit

02 Garbanzo beans

Garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, are round, beige beans with a nutty flavor and a solid supply of molybdenum and manganese, as well as folate, phosphorus, iron, and zinc. You can blend them into a tangy hummus, simmer them in a spicy stew, or roast them for a satisfying crunch. Yum, yum, and yum!

a pile of food

03 Kidney beans

Of all the beans, kidney beans are highest in thiamine, a nutrient that may be protective against Alzheimer’s disease. They’re also high in omega-3s, which have been linked to better cognitive outcomes in older adults. Kidney beans in shades of red and white, with the red varieties being lower in calories and the white a bit higher in potassium. Both go great in chili and stews because they’re hearty and play well with spices. We also use them to add a pop of protein and starchy satisfaction to some of our favorite salads.

04 Pinto beans

Pinto beans are the pink ones that have a painted look before they’re cooked. Like black beans and kidney beans, they’re packed with nutrients and go great in soups and stews, burritos, tacos, and salads. They can be enjoyed whole, or mashed and refried for a delicious and indulgent dip (remember: portion control is the name of the game!).

05 Edamame 

Edamame makes an addicting snack with its delicious sweetness and a nice fresh crunch. Like other legumes, they’re packed with protein and fiber, and won’t excessively raise your sugar levels. They’re also a good source of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin K and folate. You can eat them fresh, roast them whole, or cream them into a delicious dip.

Whether you’re looking to top off a salad, stew something amazing, wrap up your breakfast or pack protein into an otherwise indulgent dessert, the humble bean is here to help. Of course, so is your Health Advisor! That’s the beauty of your Pack Health membership. When you find a healthy thing you enjoy (whether it’s recipes that include a healthy ingredient, or exercises you can do in the comfort of your home), you can always ask for more.