The nutrient composition of dry beans makes them ideally suited to meet two major dietary recommendations for good health--increased intake of starches and complex carbohydrates and decreased consumption of fat. Dry beans supply protein, complex carbohydrate, fiber and essential vitamins and minerals to the diet, yet are low in fat and sodium and contain no cholesterol. Both protective and therapeutic effects of bean intake have been documented. The antinutritional effects of dry beans, while minor, are of interest to nutrition professionals. Dry beans are an excellent way to increase dietary fiber consumption and most individuals can incorporate beans into their diet without difficulty if they do so gradually. Including dry beans in a health-promoting diet is especially important in meeting the major dietary recommendations to reduce risk for chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes mellitus, obesity and cancer.