Cannellini beans are rich in fiber, protein, and micronutrients. The creamy white bean adds lots of valuable nutrients to salads and brings incredible velvety depth to pasta or soups. The beans are a great part of any healthy diet because they provide high fiber and protein content without overloading your meal with unwanted calories. A member of the extended legume family, the cannellini beans are regularly dried and can be used in a wide variety of dishes.
Cannellini beans are increasingly popular in Italy and have, over the years, been used in different Italian dishes as well as Mediterranean cooking. Whether you just enjoy their flavor and texture or you’re interested in eating plant-based proteins, the cannellini beans are a healthy option for you.
Some researchers have called the cannellini beans a perfect food, and for some good reasons. With the bean’s impressive micronutrients, protein, and fiber levels, the cannellini beans provide many health benefits.
It Helps Lower Blood Pressure
A study found low blood sugar levels among individuals on a low glycemic index food, including beans. Also, most of the participants had reduced risks of cardiovascular disease and lower blood pressure.[i]
Lowers Blood Sugar
A study focusing on people with type II diabetes showed that a diet rich in legumes such as cannellini beans helps maintain blood sugar levels.[ii]
Fights Inflammation And Cell Damage
Legumes such as cannellini beans are great sources of polyphenols. These are micronutrients with many antioxidant properties, such as repairing and protecting body cells. Ultimately, this protective action reduces risks of heart disease, cancers, and certain infections.[iii]
Balances Body Fluids
With the cannellini beans’ potassium and iron content, these beans also contribute to the body’s ability to transport oxygen, maintain fluid balance and keep the heart muscles working.[iv]
Reduces Risks Of Cancer
Cannellini beans are known to provide better cancer-fighting capabilities than other types of beans, mainly because of the high fiber content. They don’t just help eliminate toxins but also reduce the risks of certain cancers. The beans carry flavonoids and phytochemicals that reduce the development of cancer cells.[v]
The USDA provides the nutrition information below for one cup (260 grams) of the cannellini beans canned in sea salt and water.[vi]
- Calories – 220
- Protein – 16g
- Sugars – 2g
- Fiber – 10g
- Carbs – 38g
- Sodium – 180mg
- Fat – 0g
Cannellini beans contain high amounts of carbs, but are necessary macronutrients since they are complex carbohydrates. A substantial amount of carbs present in these beans is pure fiber. With the 38 grams carbohydrates in one cup serving, 10g are from fiber. Technically, 150 milligrams of canned, drained beans have a glycemic index (GI) of 31.[vii] This high fiber content helps a person feel full for longer and slows down bowel movement, which plays a significant role in preventing an increase in blood sugar levels.
Cannellini beans usually contain very little fat. Most canned varieties list zero fat.
Based on the type of cannellini beans of the manner in which they are processed, you can expect a small amount of protein ranging between 10 and 15g in one serving. This might be less than what you will find in other types of beans.
Vitamins And Minerals
The cannellini beans contain many valuable nutrients, including potassium and iron, with 360 mg and 2mg about 8% of daily value and 10% of DV per cup serving. The beans also contain a tiny amount of calcium and folate.[viii]
Most canned cannellini beans are often processed with sodium; therefore, ensure you keep a watchful eye for the amounts of sodium. You can do this by checking the nutrition facts label.
Lectins are proteins, which have recently been labeled “antinutrients” since they prevent the absorption of specific nutrients.[ix] This has resulted in many concerns regarding foods that contain lectin, particularly beans. For instance, kidney beans contain phytohaemagglutinin, a lectin associated with gastrointestinal distress in some animal research, but more research is necessary to determine its effect on humans.[x]
Researchers haven’t yet agreed on whether humans should worry about lectins present in food. According to the USDA’s 2020 to 2025 dietary guidelines, all types of beans are healthy sources of protein.[xi] Nevertheless, those following the low-FODMAP diet because of irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease should avoid the cannellini beans.[xii] Even those who don’t suffer from these conditions might find that eating beans cause gas or digestive distresses.
Except for soybeans, Allergies to different types of beans are pretty uncommon.[xiii] According to FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education), being allergic to peanuts doesn’t necessarily mean you’re allergic to beans. So, you don’t have to worry about feeding beans to children who are allergic to peanuts. Cannellini beans are related to other types of beans; therefore, if you’re allergic to any types of beans, you should consult an allergist or doctor before including cannellini beans into your salad or hummus.
Cannellini Beans Varieties
Since the navy beans, baby lima beans, the great northern beans, and cannellini beans are all white and small, telling them apart can be challenging. Basically, if you’re looking for white beans to include in your recipe, any of these beans will work, mainly if you aren’t selective about a unique flavor.
However, the four varieties of beans are different. Navy beans are highest in fiber and the smallest and become mushy more quickly. Great northern beans have a firmer flesh with a nuttier flavor. On the other hand, the cannellini beans are somewhat meatier and larger than the great northern beans. Finally, the baby lima beans, also known as butter beans, are starchier, richer and larger.
Also called the fazolia bean or the white kidney bean, the cannellini beans are popular in southern and central Italy, especially in Tuscany. They are kidney-shaped and approximately ½ inch long with a hard seed coat. Cannellini beans were initially grown in Argentina by Italian travelers but are currently grown commercially in Italy.
Native to Peru, cannellini beans spread through trade routes to central and South America. Spanish explorers introduced cannellini beans to Europe back in the 15th century. Known as an inexpensive, high source of nutrition and protein, these beans have become diet staples in different cultures and are currently produced in North America, Europe, and Asia.
Before use, cannellini beans should be rinsed thoroughly. If cooked, these beans are creamy and fluffy. Cannellini bean beams are widely known for their nutty flavor and smooth texture. In a recipe that requires beans, substitutions can be made with the white navy beans or the great northern beans.
In Tuscany, cannellini beans are usually consumed dried rather than cooked. However, in different parts of Italy, cannellini beans are a popular add-on to pasta and tuna dishes. On the other hand, in the US, vegans usually use hearty beans as substitutes for chicken or fish. The beans can be found throughout Britain and America in various bean salads and minestrone.
How To Prepare Cannellini Beans
With the mild flavor and creamy texture, cannellini beans are an excellent ingredient that can be used on a wide variety of diets, whether simmered with spices, mashed, and rounding out salads. Unlike other types of soft beans, cannellini beans retain the kidney shape even after they’re cooked. However, you shouldn’t overcook them.
When cooked, the cannellini beans mash-up pretty quickly, which means they can smoothly disappear into foods such as pureed soups, dips, or hummus.
Storage Tips And Safety
If properly stored, Dried, and canned, cannellini beans don’t go bad quickly. The best way to store cannellini beans is by keeping them in sealed containers at room temperatures.
When are cannellini beans best?
How to buy cannellini beans?
Are white kidney beans and cannellini beans the same?
Are cannellini beans healthy?
Are cannellini beans the same as the great northern beans?
Are cannellini beans carbs or protein?
Are cannellini beans anti-inflammatory?
- [i] Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Augustin LS, et al. Effect of legumes as part of a low glycemic index diet on glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(21):1653-60. doi:10.1001/2013.jamainternmed.70
- [ii] Jenkins DJ, Kendall CW, Augustin LS, et al. Effect of legumes as part of a low glycemic index diet on glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(21):1653-60. doi:10.1001/2013.jamainternmed.70
- [iii] Yang QQ, Gan RY, Ge YY, Zhang D, Corke H. Polyphenols in common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.): Chemistry, analysis, and factors affecting composition. Comp Rev Food Sci Food Safety. 2018;17(6):1518-1539. doi:10.1111/1541-4337.12391
- [iv] Chatterjee R, Slentz C, Davenport CA, et al. Effects of potassium supplements on glucose metabolism in African Americans with prediabetes: a pilot trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017;106(6):1431-1438. doi:10.3945/ajcn.117.161570
- [v] Hayat I, Ahmad A, Masud T, Ahmed A, Bashir S. Nutritional and health perspectives of beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.): an overview. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2014;54(5):580-92. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2011.596639. PMID: 24261533.
- [vi] U.S Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Cannellini beans. April 1, 2019.
- [vii] The University of Sydney. Glycemic Index Database. Cannellini beans, canned, drained, Edgell’s™ brand.
- [viii] Singh J. Folate content in legumes. BJSTR. 2018;3(4). doi:10.26717/BJSTR.2018.03.000940
- [ix] Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The Nutrition Source. Are anti-nutrients harmful?
- [x] Panacer K, Whorwell PJ. Dietary lectin exclusion: The next big food trend?. World J Gastroenterol. 2019;25(24):2973-2976. doi:10.3748/wjg.v25.i24.2973
- [xi] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Ninth Edition. December 2020.
- [xii] Popa SL, Pop C, Dumitrascu DL. Diet advice for crohn’s disease: fodmap and beyond. Nutrients. 2020;12(12). doi:10.3390/nu12123751
- [xiii] Katz Y, Gutierrez-Castrellon P, González MG, Rivas R, Lee BW, Alarcon P. A comprehensive review of sensitization and allergy to soy-based products. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2014;46(3):272-281. doi:10.1007/s12016-013-8404-9