All About Black Soybeans

These Little Dark Beans are Low in Carbs and High in Nutrients

soy bean
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Black soybeans are merely a black variety of the soybean. It is a rare legume native to China and has been used in Chinese medicine to clear toxins from the body. As with the yellow soybean, the black variety is considered an inexpensive source of protein. However, whereas the yellow soybean is grown to be used as a meat and dairy substitute (tofu and textured vegetable protein) and made into soy milk, or fermented for soy sauce and tempeh, the black soybean is grown to be eaten as it is, similarly to other legumes, either dried and reconstituted in water or used simply from the can.

Most health food stores carry canned organic black soy beans. The most common brand is Eden Foods; it is organic, non-GMO, and comes in BPA-free cans. Dry black soy beans are harder to find, but some stores do carry them.

Nutritional Value

Nutritionally, black soy beans are very similar to regular yellow soybeans—free of fat and a good source of protein. They are low in net carbohydrates (the amount of carbohydrates per serving minus the grams of fiber) and high in protein, fiber,  vitamin K, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, and riboflavin. Half a cup of canned black soybeans has 1 gram net carb plus 7 grams of fiber (8 grams of total carbohydrate), 11 grams of protein and 120 calories.

The black variety is higher in some phytonutrients including antioxidants. The only distinction between white and black soybeans is the color of the hull, so any nutritional difference will be found in the black outer shell.

Similar to blueberries and raspberries, black soybeans' dark exterior contains antioxidants, prohibiting the oxidation of other molecules, which, if left alone, could cause serious illnesses and disease.

Cooking Techniques

Black soybeans are great substitutes for higher-carb beans, such as black, navy, and pinto beans.

They don't taste as soybean-like as the yellow ones do, but rather more like regular black beans, making them ideal as substitutes in dishes that call for black beans, like baked beans, refried beans, bean soup, chili, 4-Bean Salad, and almost any other recipe calling for beans. 

Because of their delicate skin and silken texture, however, black soybeans need to be cooked a bit differently than regular beans. To avoid their getting mushy, it is best to soak overnight and cook dried black soybeans in salted water. You will use the same water measurements called for in recipes using regular beans, but be sure to add the salt (about 1/2 teaspoon). 

And whether you are using a pressure cooker or the stovetop, when cooking black soybeans you will need to skim off the top a few times during the cooking process. After the beans have reached a boil uncovered, reduce heat to a simmer and skim off the whitish-gray foam on top. Repeat these three steps again. If while skimming you remove some beans, rinse before returning to the pot. Add some vegetable oil (and garlic and onion, if desired) before continuing to control the foaming while cooking.

If using a pressure cooker, cook on high for 20 minutes and allow the pressure to naturally reduce for 10 to 12 minutes.

If cooking on the stove, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours until tender, adding more water if necessary.

Recipes Using Black Soybeans

You can substitute black soybeans for other beans in recipes to create lower carbohydrate dishes. For example, black soybeans stand in for navy beans in this barbecue beans recipe which isn't actually baked but tastes like it was. Or try using black soybeans in your next bean dip recipe—this one comes together in all of 5 minutes and will have your family and guests begging for more. Or, instead of the traditional pinto beans, replace with black soybeans in your refried bean dish to create a lower carb Mexican classic.

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