Adding Black Beans to a Healthy Diet

Rinse Canned Beans to Reduce Sodium

Bowl of Black Beans
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Black beans are a protein and fiber packed source of carbohydrate that can contribute to your daily fiber needs. This makes them a good part of a healthy diet. In general, legumes are a very important food source in vegetarian diets, as they provide plant-based protein and are a good source of iron.

Black Beans Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1/2 cup canned (130 g)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 100 
Calories from Fat 0 
Total Fat 0.0g0%
Saturated Fat 0g0%
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 490mg20%
Potassium 420mg12%
Carbohydrates 18g 6%
Dietary Fiber 4g16%
Sugars 1g 
Protein 6g 
Vitamin A 0% · Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 4% · Iron 8%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

The Nutritional Value of Dried and Canned Beans

Canned beans can be part of healthy diet. However, they are rich in sodium. In comparison to dried beans, those in a can contain around 420mg of sodium in one-half cup serving. That's significant compared to just 1mg of sodium in dried varieties.

In addition, according to the National Bean Institute, dried beans contain about 8 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein. That's 30 to 50 percent more than canned beans.

Although canned beans are convenient, you will get more nutritional value if you choose dried beans.

Health Benefits of Black Beans

Black beans are an excellent source of fiber (both soluble and insoluble). 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.

Black beans, like other legumes, contain resistant starch. This means that the carbohydrates in black beans are slowly converted to glucose, some of which is not digested in the large intestine at all.

Research has shown that replacing rapidly-digested carbohydrates (such as white rice) with legumes can improve glycemic control in people with diabetes. Consuming foods high in resistant starch may also improve digestive health, including the promotion of healthy gut flora. Resistant starch may even improve insulin sensitivity.

It is important to note, however, that canned beans are likely to have less resistant starch than dried beans.

Black beans are a very good source of folate, which is responsible for producing red blood cells and plays a role in preventing neural tube defects during pregnancy.

Additionally, black beans are a very good source of manganese, magnesium, and thiamin, and a good source of potassium and iron. 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.

Can You Eat Beans on a Low Carbohydrate Diet?

Low carbohydrate diet is a loose term we use when trying to reduce carbohydrate intake. Your total daily carbohydrate requirements will vary on a variety of things such as activity level, gender, weight, and perhaps blood sugar control (if you have insulin resistance or diabetes).

If you are looking to reduce your carbohydrate intake you can still eat beans, but you should remain mindful of portions. Keep in mind that a one-half cup serving of beans contains about 23 grams of carbohydrate. That means you probably want to keep your portion to about one serving.

Can You Reduce Sodium by Washing Beans?

Canned foods can serve as convenient, inexpensive, and useful sources of food.

However, this longer shelf life also means they're often rich in sodium, which acts as a natural preservative.

The good news is that simply draining and rinsing beans can reduce sodium significantly. Draining beans can reduce sodium up to 36 percent, whereas rinsing and draining can reduce sodium by 41 percent. Therefore, if one-half cup of beans contains about 400 mg of sodium, draining and rinsing the beans can reduce the sodium content to about 236 mg.

Picking and Storing Black Beans

Beans can be purchased dried or canned. It is more cost efficient and healthier to purchase dried beans when you can.

If you buy canned beans, make sure to drain and rinse them thoroughly before use.

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. Discard the water before cooking.

Healthy Ways to Prepare Black Beans 

Beans can be pureed and used as a spread or left whole in soups and chili as a base for protein. They can even be an addition to baked goods such as brownies and breads to add protein and fiber.

Use black beans as a side dish, as a sandwich or potato topper, or as a dip for vegetables. Add beans to salads, stews, and soups for additional iron, protein, and fiber. 

Sources:

Anderson JW, et al. Health Benefits of Dietary Fiber. Nutrition Reviews. 2009;67(4):188-205.

Becerra-Tomas N, et al. Legume Consumption Is Inversely Associated with Type 2 Diabetes Incidence in Adults: A Prospective Assessment From the PREDIMED Study. Clinical Nutrition. 2017. pii: S0261-5614(17)30106-1. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2017.03.015.

Fernandes AC, Nishida W, da Costa Proenc RP et al. Influence of soaking on the nutritional quality of common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) cooked with or without the soaking water: a review. International Journal of Food Science and Technology 2010, 45: 2209–2218.

Shadix, Kyle. Reducing sodium in canned beans - easier than 1-2-3. Today's Dietitian2010; 12: 62.

The Bean Institute. Bean Nutrition Overview. 2016.

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