British beans - a can of kidney beans

Jamie and Jimmy rediscover the beauty of our native beans in the latest episode of Friday Night Feast (8pm, Fridays on Channel 4). Britain exports tonnes of legumes across the world, so the boys figured it’s about time we celebrated this fantastic ingredient closer to home. Here, Laura Matthews, Head of Nutrition at Jamie Oliver, explains what makes the British bean so special.

A super-versatile ingredient, beans are packed with fibre, and really low in saturated fat. Fibre is important for digestion, and a high-fibre diet is associated with reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. You can bake beans, purée them, turn them into burgers, use them in dips, sauces, salads and stews, or blitz them into a soup – the list is endless!

Three heaped tablespoons, or 80g, of beans count as one of your 5-a-day. However, beans can only ever count as a maximum of one portion each day, as they don’t have the same micronutrient content as fruit and vegetables.

Where do our beans come from?

Virtually all beans eaten in the UK are imported, despite the fact we grow thousands of tonnes of beans ourselves. British beans are largely exported to places such as Egypt to make products including houmous, or are used in animal feeds.

However, some farmers are starting to reclaim the brilliant British bean! For instance, Hodmedod’s produces fantastic British fava beans and carlin peas, both of which are a great source of protein and fibre, providing roughly a third of our daily fibre intake in each serving.

Bean revolution!

We want to see quality British beans back on our shelves and menus – and we don’t just mean baked beans. Why not replace some of the meat, especially red processed meat, in your diet with good old beans? It’s a clever way to incorporate flavour and texture in your meals, along with plenty of added health benefits.

So, let’s start a bean revolution and celebrate this beautiful British product.

Watch this week’s Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast to see Jamie cooking with British beans. Catch the show every Friday at 8pm on Channel 4.

About the author

Laura Matthews

Laura is head of nutrition at Jamie Oliver. Her passion for food comes from having cooking lessons at a local college from the age of 10, and the nutrition side from a fascination for how the right foods can fuel the body.

Laura Matthews