Formula Medical Group
Apple Valley, CA
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James Krider, MD


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Dry Beans and Peas in the Food Guide
Dry beans and peas are the mature forms of legumes such as kidney beans, pinto beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas, and lentils. These foods are excellent sources of plant protein, and also provide other nutrients such as iron and zinc. They are similar to meats, poultry, and fish in their contribution of these nutrients. Many people consider dry beans and peas as vegetarian alternatives for meat. However, they are also excellent sources of dietary fiber and nutrients such as folate that are low in diets of many Americans. These nutrients are found in plant foods like vegetables.

Because of their high nutrient content, consuming dry beans and peas is recommended for everyone, including people who also eat meat, poultry, and fish regularly. The Food Guide includes dry beans and peas as a subgroup of the vegetable group, and encourages their frequent consumption—several cups a week—as a vegetable selection. But the Guide also indicates that dry beans and peas may be counted as part of the “meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts group.”

How to count dry peas and beans in the Food Guide

Dry beans and peas can be counted either as vegetables (dry beans and peas subgroup), or in the meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts (meat and beans) group. Generally, individuals who regularly eat meat, poultry, and fish would count dry beans and peas in the vegetable group. Individuals who seldom eat meat, poultry, or fish (vegetarians) would count some of the dry beans and peas they eat in the meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts group. Here's how:

Count the number of ounce-equivalents of all meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, and seeds eaten.
  1. If the total is equal to or more than the suggested intake from the meat and beans group (which ranges from 2 ounce-equivalents at 1000 calories to 7 ounce-equivalents at 2800 calories and above) then count any dry beans or peas eaten as part of the dry beans and peas subgroup in the vegetable group.

    OR
     
  2. If the total is less than the suggested intake from the meat and beans group, then count any dry beans and peas eaten toward the suggested intake level until it is reached. (One-fourth cup of cooked dry beans or peas counts as 1 ounce equivalent in the meat and beans group.) After the suggested intake level in the meat and beans group is reached, count any additional dry beans or peas eaten as part of the dry beans and peas subgroup in the vegetable group.

EXAMPLE 1:
(FOR THE 2000 CALORIE FOOD PATTERN)

Foods eaten (meat and beans group only—not a complete daily list)

3 ½ ounces chicken
2 ounces tuna fish
½ cup refried beans

The 3 ½ ounces of chicken and 2 ounces of tuna fish equal 5 ½ ounce-equivalents in the meat and beans group, which meets the recommendation at this calorie level. Therefore, the ½ cup of refried beans counts as ½ cup of vegetables towards meeting the 3 cups per week recommendation for dry beans and peas in the 2000 calorie pattern.

EXAMPLE 2:
(FOR THE 2000 CALORIE FOOD PATTERN)

Foods eaten (meat and beans group only—not a complete daily list)

2 eggs
2 T. peanut butter
3 ounces (3/8 cup) tofu
½ cup chickpeas

The 2 eggs and 2 T. peanut butter equal 4 ounce-equivalents in the meat and beans group. One and one-half more ounces are needed to meet the 5 ½ ounce recommendation. These 1 ½ ounce-equivalents are provided by the 3 ounces of tofu. Since the meat and beans group recommendation has been met, the ½ cup of chickpeas, then, counts as ½ cup of dry beans and peas toward meeting the 3 cups per week recommendation for dry beans and peas in the 2000 calorie pattern.
This article was last reviewed March 8, 2006 by Dr. James Krider.

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