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Given their high starch content and tendency to make some people “gassy,” are black beans really good for you? You bet! Black beans are a food that almost everyone can benefit from keeping in their kitchen cabinets. Studies have linked eating black beans with helping protect against inflammation, heart disease, weight gain, diabetes, certain cancers and common nutrient deficiencies that we often see in people eating a typical Western diet. It’s easy to benefit from black beans nutrition as well. This food is an extremely affordable source of protein, filling fiber, disease-fighting antioxidants like flavonoids, and numerous vitamins and minerals.
The health benefits of black beans nutrition, the beans’ versatility and their high nutrient content make them an excellent choice for both plant-based eaters and omnivores alike.
Black Beans Nutrition Facts
Black beans, or “common beans,” are from the Phaseolus vulgaris legume family, a plant that is native to the Americas. What are legumes exactly? They are the fruit or seed of any plant in the family called Fabaceae. Black beans are technically a part of the kidney bean family, of which there are around 500 different varieties. These beans go by the common name “black beans” in the United States but are called by different names around the globe — such as, black turtle beans, frijol negro, zaragoza or feijão preto.
Are black beans considered a carb or protein? They actually contain a bit of both. While they do contain carbs and starch, they are also high in fiber and a good source of amino acids (which form proteins). Do black beans have nutritional value? Given the low calorie content of black beans nutrition, they are a relatively nutrient-dense food, providing folate, copper, manganese and more.
According to the USDA, a one-cup serving (about 172 grams) of cooked black beans nutrition provides approximately:
40.8 grams carbohydrates
15.2 grams protein
0.9 gram fat
15 grams fiber
256 micrograms folate (64 percent DV)
0.8 milligram manganese (38 percent DV)
120 milligrams magnesium (30 percent DV)
0.4 milligram thiamine (28 percent DV)
241 milligrams phosphorus (24 percent DV)
3.6 milligrams iron (20 percent DV)
0.4 milligram copper (18 percent DV)
611 milligrams potassium (17 percent DV)
1.9 milligrams zinc (13 percent DV)
0.1 milligram riboflavin (6 percent DV)
0.1 milligram vitamin B6 (6 percent DV)
46.4 milligrams calcium (5 percent DV)
In addition, black beans nutrition also contains some niacin, pantothenic acid, selenium and vitamin A.
1. Improves Cardiovascular Health
Why are beans good for your health, particularly your heart? Black beans protect heart health in numerous ways. One of the most important is that they help provide antioxidants that fight inflammation. A major benefit of black beans nutrition is that these legumes contain high levels of phytonutrients — especially flavonoids called delphinidin, petunidin and malvidin. Studies have shown that flavonoids work to control lipid (fat) metabolism and to positively aid in cholesterol excretion.
Black beans nutrition is also exceptionally high in soluble fiber. This type of dietary fiber is associated with reduced risk for cardiovascular disease since it helps balance unhealthy cholesterol levels. Studies have found that a diet high in dietary fiber, especially from bean and legume sources, is protective against mortality due to heart disease, cardiac arrest and stroke. Fiber helps reduce inflammation as it removes waste and toxins from the body, keeping arteries clear from dangerous plague buildup. There’s evidence that having just one daily serving (about 3/4 cup cooked) of beans of any kind can help to decrease chances of a heart attack and balance “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Additionally, black beans nutrition provides a high source of folate and magnesium, two minerals that are important in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. The high fiber content in black beans nutrition can also prevent overeating and gaining harmful excess weight, especially around vital organs like the heart.
2. Provides Disease-Fighting Antioxidants
The important flavonoid and phytochemical compounds found in black beans nutrition act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. This makes them beneficial in protecting against various forms of cancer. Research shows that black beans contain high levels of anthocyanins, compounds also found have in foods like berries. Studies show the protective effects of black beans is especially important for preventing colon cancer. Some sources report that black beans, with their deep black color, are the highest bean source of antioxidants.
Studies have shown that the high-antioxidant compounds of black beans nutrition can help prevent DNA damage and gene mutation, leading to a decreased risk for developing cancerous cells. There’s also evidence that among older adults, a diet that includes plant proteins (legumes) is associated with improved cognitive health and protection against neurological impairments. This effect is believed to be due to enhanced insulin sensitivity among adults who consume plenty of fiber, protein and antioxidants.
3. High Source of Fiber
Beans are one of the top high-fiber foods that health experts recommend everyone eats regularly. Black beans make an exceptionally filling addition to any recipe, with their high levels of dietary fiber (about 15 grams per cup) but also because of their combination of complex carbs and protein. The macronutrients found in beans, including fiber, work together to give us a feeling of satiety after eating, while also helping to control blood sugar levels.
Studies conducted on animals have shown that consuming black beans helps control appetite and can lead to significant reductions in unhealthy body fat. In order to maintain the best digestive health, all adults should aim to have at least 30 grams of fiber from whole foods every day. The fiber and protein in beans help the glucose (sugar) from the starch of the beans to be slowly released into the bloodstream. While simple carbs — including processed foods like cookies, cereal, refined grains and sweetened snacks — release sugar into the blood very quickly, beans keep you full for a long time.
4. Improves Digestion
Beans contain resistant starch that feeds the good bacteria in your gut. The high fiber content of black beans nutrition also helps improve digestion by keeping the digestive tract clear of toxic buildup. Fiber acts like a broom for the digestive system, working to push waste through the digestive tract so the bacteria of the gut flora can remain balanced. This prevents unwanted digestive symptoms like constipation, IBS and more. Black beans have also been shown in studies to protect colon health and potentially help ward off colitis or colon cancer due to their ability to block oxidative damage within the digestive system.
The fiber in black beans nutrition can help maintain the body’s naturally preferred pH level, balancing acidity and alkalinity. Legumes have an alkalizing effect on the body, which helps balance pH levels by combating the high level of acidity that is common in most modern diets due to high amounts of meat, dairy and processed food. Additionally, black beans have been found in studies to have antibacterial and antiparasitic properties. They can help clear toxins and unwanted bacteria from the body, which can help restore digestive function and improve overall health.
5. Provides Long-Lasting Energy
It’s very important to consume the right type of carbohydrates — in the form of whole, unrefined vegetables, starches, legumes and occasionally sprouted grains — in order to keep blood sugar levels stable.
Beans and legumes contain a form of complex carbohydrate called starch, which the body is able to slowly digest and use for energy without spiking blood sugar levels. This makes black beans a food that is considered low on the glycemic index. All types of legumes are considered low-GI foods and therefore may reduce the total glycemic load of meals in which they are included.
6. Helps Keep Blood Sugar Levels Stable
The starch found in black beans nutrition contains the natural sugar called glucose, which the body uses easily for many essential functions. “Fast” or “simple” carbs tend to do the opposite of complex carbs like starch — quickly raising blood sugar levels as a high amount of sugar is released into the blood all at once. The cycle of eating the wrong types of refined carbs also leads to cravings for more sweets, low energy, overeating, and even potential problems managing blood sugar and insulin levels. Long term, this can lead to diabetes or metabolic syndrome. However, a 2015 study published in the journal Nutrients found that including black beans in a typical Western-style meal helps regulate release of insulin and also increases antioxidant status.
Because of black beans’ ability to provide “time released” energy in the form of starches, they make an excellent carbohydrate source for anyone who has a form of resistance to insulin (the blood sugar-lowering hormone), like those who are prediabetic or who have diabetes. Consuming resistant starch from legumes has been shown to have antidiabetic effects and help fight other risk factors for metabolic syndrome, like hypertension.
7. Contains Essential Vitamins and Minerals
Black beans are an excellent source of numerous vitamins and minerals. In fact, they are high in magnesium, iron, folate, phosphorus and B vitamins. These nutrients are all especially important for vegetarians and vegans who may be lacking in these nutrients due to eliminating other animal sources. Anti-inflammatory, high-nutrient diets that include foods like black beans can help prevent many common diseases, including fibromyalgia, leaky gut, metabolic syndrome and more.
8. High in Protein
Black beans nutrition also provides a high amount of plant-based protein. The body uses protein, in the form of amino acids, for nearly every function. Making sure to eat adequate amounts of protein on a regular basis can help fight symptoms related to protein deficiency, including weight gain, overeating, muscle weakness, fatigue, low energy, eye problems, heart problems, poor skin health, imbalanced hormone levels and more. Protein is crucial for helping to build muscle and keeping the body energetic, strong and youthful. While many people require less calories as they age in order to maintain a healthy weight, black beans add a high amount of nutrients to the diet without contributing a many calories (only about 110 calories per half cup).
Black beans as part of traditional diets are often eaten with rice, corn or starchy vegetables. Luckily, these combinations work together to make up a “complete protein,” meaning they contain all of the essential amino acids(known as the building blocks of proteins) that are necessary to acquire through protein-rich foods, since the body cannot make them. Consuming beans is a great way to add low-fat, high-fiber protein to your diet.
9. Helps with Weight Loss
A 2016 review published in the found that American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that dietary pulse consumption may reduce body fat percentage in adults. It’s believed that legumes have positive effects on weight management because of their ability to improve a number of metabolic functions, insulin sensitivity and hepatic/liver function in obese adults.
Black beans nutrition boasts a very low calorie count, especially when you consider the range of nutrients and fiber. Consuming black beans can make you less likely to overeat since fiber expands in the digestive tract, soaking up water and taking up a high volume. This makes you less likely to experience food cravings for sweets or to snack on empty-calorie, processed junk foods between meals.
According to researchers and archaeologists, beans were one of the first foods that were gathered and prepared by humans, and some think that black beans in particular may have been the first kind of legume to be domesticated for food. Black beans have a very long history in Latin cuisine and are still an extremely important staple crop across Central, South and North America today.
They were first thought to be consumed in Mexico and South America around 7,000 years ago. Some sources state that they originally were found and harvested in Peru during this time and then spread to almost every other nearby South American and Central American nation over the hundreds of years following.
From Mexico, black beans spread across territories of the U.S., including Texas, New Mexico and Louisiana, well before they were established U.S. states, and they are still extremely popular in those areas now. Black beans were first introduced into Europe around the 15th century when Spanish explorers brought them back from their travels. They then spread to other parts of the globe, including Africa and Asia.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, black beans are said to help tonify the kidneys, nourish yin/feminine energy, strengthen the heart, balance blood pressure and improve circulation. This is due to their supply of important nutrients like folate, resistant starch/fiber and anthocyanins. They are recommended for people dealing with conditions such as kidney disorder, back pain, knee pain, infertility, seminal emissions, blurry vision, ear problems and difficulty urinating.
Where to Find and How to Use
Purchasing Black Beans:
Black beans can be found in dried or precooked varieties. They are most available in precooked/canned or precooked/frozen varieties.
Is there a difference between cooked black beans nutrition and canned black beans nutrition? Precooked black beans, either in canned or frozen form, often have the same nutrient levels as freshly made beans, so as long as you buy a high-quality kind. Buying canned black beans means you can conveniently enjoy beans even when you’re short on time.
Look for dried black beans at markets that sell food by the pound or in the “bulk bin” section of your favorite health food store — where you will likely be able to find organic dried beans for sale at a very low cost. If you find sprouted black beans, that’s even better! Dried beans remain fresh for a long time, so you don’t need to worry about buying too much and having them spoil.
Keep some dried beans in your kitchen for whenever you have some extra time to cook. Dry, uncooked black beans will keep for up to 12 months if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place like your cabinet.
How to Cook Black Beans:
Most people tend to use precooked, canned beans because the cooking time for dried beans can be a bit long. Cooking black beans from scratch requires you to plan a day ahead in order to soak the beans. However, many people feel that beans made from scratch taste the best and hold their texture more than precooked kinds — plus this allows you to save and use the starchy, black cooking liquid too.
Canned, precooked beans are a great option when you don’t have time to prepare beans from scratch, although many brands of canned beans use the chemical BPA in the lining of their cans, which is a toxin you want to avoid leaching into your food. Look for organic varieties of canned beans that are certified “BPA free” in order to avoid this chemical winding up in your beans.
Risks and Side Effects
Black beans also contain certain chemical compounds call purines, which are found in many different types of plant- and animal-based foods. Purines can turn into uric acid within the body when high levels are consumed, which can result in problems for people who do not process uric acid well.
Gout and kidney stones are two conditions that result from excess accumulation of uric acid within the body. Therefore people with these conditions should avoid consuming high levels of purine-foods. If you experience any condition related to high uric acid buildup, speak to your doctor about your specific dietary choices.
Some people experience digestive discomfort when eating beans due to their high fiber and starch content. If this happens to you, try preparing beans from scratch (dried form) and soaking them overnight first. This helps cut down on certain compounds that can cause digestive problems, including gas and bloating.
If you aren’t accustomed to eating high amounts of fiber, gradually introduce more into your diet instead of consuming a large amount of fiber-rich beans all at once. This will help ease digestion and avoid unwanted symptoms.
Final Thoughts on Black Beans Nutrition
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