Black beans are a readily available, inexpensive legume packed with protein. They can be enjoyed in many different ways as a tasty part of a nutritious eating plan. While black beans are high in carbohydrates, they are in the form of resistant starch and fiber, which are digested slowly and can provide health benefits. Enjoy black beans in all kinds of dishes, from burritos to brownies.
Black Bean Nutrition Facts
The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1/2 cup of canned black beans (120g).1
Black beans are rich in carbohydrates and they are also and excellent source of fiber (both soluble and insoluble). Black beans also do not contain sugar. Instead, they have slowly-digested carbohydrates and resistant starch. This means that the carbohydrates in black beans are slowly converted to glucose, and some are not digested at all.
The glycemic index of a food is an indicator of how much the food may affect your blood glucose level. The glycemic index of black beans depends on how they are prepared. If you soak and boil black beans, the average glycemic index is 25, which is moderately low. If you cook them with a pressure cooker or use canned beans, the glycemic index ranges from 45 to 65, which is moderate. The glycemic load takes into account both the glycemic index and the serving size. A serving of 1/2 cup cooked black beans has a glycemic load of 7, which is considered low.
Black beans have very little fat, and most of the fat is polyunsaturated. A 1/2 cup serving of black beans has 90 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids and 108 milligrams of omega-6 fatty acids.
Black beans are protein powerhouses, with 7 grams of protein in a 1/2 cup serving. You can enjoy black beans in many dishes to help fulfill your daily protein needs.
Vitamins and Minerals
Black beans are an excellent source of folate. This nutrient is responsible for producing red blood cells and plays a role in preventing neural tube defects during pregnancy.
Additionally, black beans are an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, and thiamin. If you're a vegetarian who relies on beans as a source of iron, it is good to know that eating foods with vitamin C, such as citrus fruit and tomatoes, helps increase iron absorption.
Like other legumes, black beans are a good source of lean protein. They also have other nutritional advantages.
Helps Regulate Blood Sugar
Research has shown that replacing rapidly digested carbohydrates (such as white rice) with legumes can improve glycemic control in people with diabetes. Resistant starch may even improve insulin sensitivity.2
Improves Digestive Health
Foods high in resistant starch may also act as prebiotics, promoting healthy gut flora.3 Dried beans have more resistant starch than canned beans.
Provides Helpful Antioxidants
Black beans also contain some phytonutrients, mainly polyphenols in the coating. These may be beneficial as antioxidants.
Reduces Risk of Chronic Disease
Studies show that a fiber-rich diet can help maintain weight goals and aid in weight loss. It can also reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.4
Provides Plant-Based Protein
For vegans and vegetarians who avoid eating animal proteins, black beans are a good source of protein, iron, and fatty acids.
Black bean allergies are not common but can be a concern for people who are allergic to peanuts or soy (all are legumes). Black beans are closely related to pinto beans, kidney beans, and green beans, so allergies to one may mean you are sensitive to others.
Canned black beans (and other types of beans) tend to be high in sodium. But research has found that simply draining and rinsing canned beans can reduce sodium significantly. Draining beans can reduce sodium up to 36%, whereas rinsing and draining can reduce sodium by 41%.5 Therefore, if 1/2 cup of canned beans contains about 460 milligrams of sodium, draining and rinsing the beans can reduce the sodium content to about 271 milligrams.
Most dried beans need to be soaked in water before use. Soaking softens and rehydrates the beans, reducing cooking time. In addition, soaking helps remove some of the substances that can cause digestive issues, such as flatulence and gas.6 Discard the water before cooking.
While most beans are high in FODMAPs (types of carbohydrates that can cause digestive symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome), recent research shows that canned beans are lower in FODMAPs than dried beans.7
Black beans are a type of kidney beans, and there are many varieties of black beans, too. The most popular variety is black turtle beans.
Dried beans are inexpensive in comparison to canned beans and are easy to store in bulk. Dried beans have only 1 milligram of sodium in a 1/2 cup serving, while canned beans can have as much as 490 milligrams. Canning also reduces the amount of resistant starch in black beans. The drawback is that dried beans take longer to prepare.
Storage and Food Safety
When buying dried beans, look for whole (not cracked or broken), smooth, shiny beans. Tiny holes in dried beans could mean they are infested with insects. Store in a sealed container in a cool, dry place for up to a year. Once cooked, black beans will keep in the refrigerator for four or five days, and in the freezer for up to six months.
How to Prepare
You can find uses for black beans in every meal of the day. Beans can be puréed and used as a spread or left whole in soups and chilis. They can even be an addition to baked goods such as brownies to add protein and fiber.
Use black beans as a side dish, as a sandwich or potato topper, or blended into a dip for vegetables. You can also add beans to salads and stews for additional iron, protein, and fiber. You can swap black beans for other types of beans (such as pinto or great Northern) in recipes.
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