Black beans, also called turtle beans, are readily available and low-cost legumes filled with proteins. The beans have a mild, nutty flavor and firm texture. They are commonly added to stews and soups because they are able to hold their shape better.
The black beans provide fiber and protein, and other valuable minerals and vitamins such as manganese, phosphorous, and folate. They are readily available in grocery stores and can be a great addition to your eating plan, especially if you’re looking for inexpensive ways to improve your meal’s nutritional value.
Black beans are legumes. Researchers have studied legumes for many years because they are easily grown, nutrient-rich, and eaten worldwide. Black beans are a great source of lean proteins. Also, they have many nutritional advantages.
Reduces Chronic Disease Risk
Research shows that diets rich in fiber can help in weight loss and maintain weight loss goals. Also, it can reduce the risks of certain cancers and heart disease.[i]
Provides Essential Antioxidants
Black beans have phytonutrients, polyphenols to be specific. Polyphenols are very beneficial as antioxidants.[ii] They help prevent different diseases.
Promotes Digestive Health
Foods with high amounts of resistant starch might also function as prebiotics, improving healthy gut flora. Dried black beans contain more resistant starch than the canned beans.[iii]
It Helps Control Blood Sugar
Studies show that replacing fast digested carbohydrates like white rice with legumes can regulate glycemic control. Resistant starch might even promote insulin sensitivity.[iv]
Source Of Plant-Based Proteins
For vegetarians and vegans who avoid consuming animal proteins, black beans are a great source of fatty acids, iron, and protein.
Might Improve Diabetes Management
A study showed that increased intake of beans could help people with diabetes improve glycemic control.[v] Also, a study in 2014, found that fiber content present in beans helps maintain blood sugar levels.[vi] A study published in 2015 found that diets that are high in legumes but low in processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, and refined sugar reduces the risks of developing type II diabetes.[vii]
Black beans are high in carbs and are also a great source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Also, black beans don’t contain any sugar. Instead, they have slowly digested resistant starch and carbohydrates. This means the carbs in black beans are gradually converted to glucose.
The glycemic index (GI) of these black beans depends on how they are cooked. For instance, if you soak and then boil the black beans, the average GI is 20, which is significantly low.[ix] On the other hand, if you use canned beans, the GI is 30.[x]
Black beans contain minimal amounts of fat, most of which is polyunsaturated fat. A ½ cup of black beans contains 90mg and 108 mg of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Black beans are rich in proteins; a ½ cup serving contains 7g of protein. Black beans can be added to your diet to fulfill your daily recommended protein intake.
Minerals And Vitamins
Black beans are a great source of folate. Folate is responsible for red blood cell production and the prevention of neural tube defects.[xi] Furthermore, black beans are a great source of thiamin, magnesium, and manganese. If you are a vegan who relies on beans as your primary source of iron, eating foods rich in vitamin C like tomatoes and citrus fruits helps in the absorption of iron.
Canned black beans are high in sodium. However, research shows that draining and rinsing the beans can significantly reduce sodium. Draining black beans reduces sodium by about 36%, but draining and rinsing black beans reduces sodium by about 41%.[xii] So, if one cup of canned black beans contains 920 mg of sodium, rinsing and draining black beans reduces sodium content by 542 milligrams.
Legumes contain antinutrients – substances that disrupt the absorption of nutrients. While all plants contain these substances, they only have the effect if consumed in large amounts. Although some people might be concerned about these antinutrient compounds, soaking and boiling beans significantly reduce these compounds. Cooking black beans increases their concentration and antioxidant activity.
Finally, some people find that eating black beans cause gas or indigestion. People sensitive to these beans should consume them more sparingly and gradually increase the intake as their system adjusts.
Allergies to black beans are rare but can be a concern if you’re allergic to soy or peanuts. Black beans are more related to green beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans, so allergies to any of these beans might also mean you’re allergic to others.[xiii] Allergists tell people with allergies to peanuts to also avoid legumes. However, it’s best if you exercise caution. Do you suspect an allergy to legumes or peanuts? If so, consult a doctor to get an individual diagnosis before you start eating black beans.
Different beans, including the black beans, the great northern bean, navy beans, pink beans, pinto beans, and red kidney beans, all belong to the Phaseolus vulgaris family. Black beans are a variety of kidney beans.
You can buy black beans in the dried form. Also, you can purchase canned black beans in your local grocery store. Canned beans are expensive compared to dried beans, but dried beans are much easier to store than canned beans. Available varieties of black beans include Condor, Blackhawk, Black Magic, and Domino.
Black turtle beans
These are the most common types of black beans. They are available in grocery stores in both canned and dried form.
Black beans are native to South and Central America. Their cultivation dates back to 7,000 years, where black beans become a staple food in many American diets. Black beans were first discovered by Spanish travelers back in the 15th century, who brought the beans to Europe. The black beans were then introduced to Asia and Africa by the Portuguese and Spanish traders and have, over the years, become increasingly popular for different reasons, including nutrient content, taste and texture, long-term storage, and ease of growth.
Today, black beans are a popular staple in the cuisines in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Brazil, and Mexico. Brazil and India are the largest commercial growers of black beans. The United States, Indonesia, and Mexico also produce these nutritious beans.
Extremely rich in antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, black beans are wonder beans that play a major role in healthy living. Along with pinto, kidney, and navy beans, black beans are members of the group of beans referred to as ‘common beans.’ Often called turtle beans, frijoles Negros, or caviar criollo, black beans are mainly characterized by the small oval shape with a black shell. Today, if you visit any renowned Mexican restaurant, you’ll find these tasty black beans often blended into different Mexican dishes like quesadillas, tostadas, and burritos.
How To Prepare Black Beans
Black beans can be added to any diet plan. They can be used in chilis and soups or pureed for use as a spread. Black beans can also be added to baked foods like brownies to add fiber and protein.
Also, they can be used as a side dish, a potato topper, or a sandwich or blended into the dip for veggies. Black beans can also be added to stews and salads for additional fiber, protein, and iron. They can also be swapped for other varieties of beans (like the great northern beans or pinto beans).
Black Beans Storage Tips And Safety
When purchasing dried black beans, look for whole, shinny, and smooth beans. Small holes in the beans mean they are insect-infested. Store dried beans in a tightly sealed container and place them in a cool, dry place. They can be stored this way for up to one year. If cooked, black beans can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Else, you can freeze them for a maximum of 6 months.
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- [i] Anderson JW, Baird P, Davis Jr RH, et al. Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutr Rev. 2009;67(4):188-205. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00189.x
- [ii] Reverri EJ, Randolph JM, Steinberg FM, Kappagoda CT, Edirisinghe I, Burton-Freeman BM. Black beans, fiber, and antioxidant capacity pilot study: examination of whole foods vs. Functional components on postprandial metabolic, oxidative stress, and inflammation in adults with metabolic syndrome. Nutrients. 2015;7(8):6139-6154. doi:10.3390/nu7085273
- [iii] Fuentes‐Zaragoza E, Sánchez‐Zapata E, Sendra E et al. Resistant starch as prebiotic: A review. Starch/Stärke. 2011;63:406-415. doi:10.1002/star.201000099
- [iv] Winham DM, Hutchins AM, Thompson SV. Glycemic response to black beans and chickpeas as part of a rice meal: a randomized cross-over trial. Nutrients. 2017;9(10):1095. doi:10.3390/nu9101095
- [v] Sievenpiper JL, Kendall CW, Esfahani A, et al. Effect of non-oil-seed pulses on glycaemic control: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled experimental trials in people with and without diabetes. Diabetologia. 2009;52(8):1479-1495. doi:10.1007/s00125-009-1395-7
- [vi] Mudryj AN, Yu N, Aukema HM. Nutritional and health benefits of pulses. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2014;39(11):1197-204. doi:10.1139/apnm-2013-0557
- [vii] Polak R, Phillips EM, Campbell A. Legumes: Health benefits and culinary approaches to increase intake. Clin Diabetes. 2015;33(4):198-205. doi:10.2337/diaclin.33.4.198
- [viii] U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Beans, black turtle, canned. April 1, 2019.
- [ix] The University of Sydney. Glycemic Index Database. Black bean (Phaseolus vulgaris Linn), soaked overnight, cooked 45 min
- [x] The University of Sydney. Glycemic Index Database. Black beans
- [xi] Crider KS, Devine O, Hao L, et al. Population red blood cell folate concentrations for prevention of neural tube defects: Bayesian model. BMJ. 2014;349:g4554. doi:10.1136/bmj.g4554
- [xii] Garden-Robinson J, McNeal K. All about beans nutrition, health benefits, preparation and use in menus. North Dakota State University. Updated February 2019.
- [xiii] He S, Zhao J, Zhang Y, et al. Effects of low-ph treatment on the allergenicity reduction of black turtle bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) lectin and its mechanism. J Agric Food Chem. 2021;69(4):1379-1390. doi:10.1021/acs.jafc.0c06524