Pinto beans are nutritious, versatile, and budget-friendly legumes commonly used in rice dishes, stews, and soup. They are very popular dried beans in the United States. Pinto beans are a species of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) that are often used in Mexican cuisines.
They are beige and have reddish-brown speckles when dried but change to pale pink or solid light brown when cooked. Pinto beans have a nutty flavor. Also, they are very easy to prepare and can be eaten mashed or whole. These beans are not only full of minerals and vitamins; they also have a wide range of impressive health benefits. Let’s jump into the health and nutrition benefits:
Nutrition researchers have studied legumes for many years mainly because they are consumed worldwide. Research shows that increased intake of pinto beans provides numerous health benefits.
Help Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
Pinto beans can help regulate blood sugar levels. Although they contain high amounts of carbs, they don’t raise blood sugar levels excessively. The low glycemic index means that the beans are digested slowly, ultimately moderating the bean’s blood sugar effects. Research shows that foods with a low glycemic index can help regulate blood sugar levels.
Furthermore, pinto beans have high amounts of proteins and fibers that play a significant role in slowing down the release of sugar into the bloodstream.
Supports Glycemic Control
Another study shows that increased intake of lentils, peas, and beans can help people with and those without diabetes improve glycemic index. A study published back in 2013 showed that flavonol, one of the popular antioxidants commonly found in beans, can reduce the incidence of type II diabetes. Also, a report published in 2014 showed that pinto beans are high in fiber that helps control blood sugar levels.
It Helps Manage Cardiovascular Diseases
In a study that mainly focused on cardiovascular disease, people who consumed more flavonoids have reduced the risk of death from heart disease. This was true even for people whose flavonoids intake was relatively small.[i]
Reduces Cholesterol Levels
According to a review published in the Canadian medical association journal, including pinto beans in your daily diet can help significantly lower bad cholesterol levels in your body.[ii]
Helps Prevent Obesity
An investigation into the nutritional value of beans found that replacing high-energy foods with beans has many beneficial effects on the management and prevention of obesity and other related disorders like metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.[iii]
Aids Weight Loss
Consuming Pinto beans can help with weight loss. As mentioned earlier, pinto beans are rich in fiber and protein; the two nutrients make you feel full for long periods, thus helping control your appetite. Several studies have linked the intake of pinto beans to smaller waist circumference, lower body weight, and increased fullness.
Promotes Heart Health
Pinto beans have been found to promote heart health. A study found that consuming legumes regularly did not just lower LDL cholesterol but also promoted proportionate production. Proportionate production helps lower blood pressure levels and lower blood cholesterol. Finally, these nutrient-rich legumes contain potassium and magnesium. These minerals prevent hypertension, a vital aspect of cardiovascular disease.
USDA has provided the nutrition information below for 172g of boiled pinto beans without any added fat or salt. Below is the nutritional composition of one cup serving of pinto beans.[iv]
- Fiber – 15g
- Carbohydrates – 45g
- Sodium – 2mg
- Fat – 1g
- Calories – 245
- Protein – 15g
- Sugar – 0g
Pinto beans contain high amounts of complex carbs. Essentially, the starch in one ration of the pinto beans is about 30 grams. As starch, carbohydrates provide you with energy.
One cup of beans provides you with 15 grams of fiber. Fiber helps boost digestive health, improve satiety and alleviate blood sugar. Pinto beans offer you with less than one gram of sugar.[v] The beans glycemic index is about 39, and since all foods having a glycemic index (GI) that’s less than 55 are low GI foods, then pinto beans fall under this category.
One cup serving of pinto beans contains 1g of fat. As you can see, pinto beans have a very small amount of fat. Although nutrition experts advise against consuming low-fat diets for healthy weight maintenance or weight loss, foods such as pinto beans offer very little fat and are a great add-on to your daily diet.[vi]
Nevertheless, keep in mind that most processed types of foods might have added fat and salt. For instance, if you purchase canned beans, there is a high chance that these foods contain added fat.
One cup of these beans contains 15gs of protein. As a result, vegetarians many use legumes, especially pinto beans, to improve protein intake. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t consider pinto beans as a whole protein. This is because complete proteins offer all the amino acids the body needs, which isn’t the case with these beans. You will need to ingest seeds, nuts, or whole grains to get the amino acids.
Minerals and Vitamins
As mentioned earlier, the beans are jam-packed with valuable nutrients. One cup serving of the beans contains 294 mcg of folate. Folate is a vital vitamin that helps improve the production of red blood cells.
Also, one cup serving contains 251mg of the suggested daily intake of phosphorus. It contains about 0.8 milligrams of manganese. Manganese helps boost brain health and the nervous system. Pinto beans also contain other nutrients, including copper, potassium, thiamin, vitamin B6, magnesium, and iron.[vii]
While pinto beans contain many valuable nutrients, it’s also important to note that eating large amounts can cause adverse effects:
The beans have been found to cause intestinal gas and discomfort. Technically, beans naturally have gas-causing compounds and are high in fiber, both of which might result in increased stomach flatulence and cramping.
Increased Iodine Levels
If you have thyroid cancer, your health physician might ask you to avoid consuming large amounts of these beans. This is because thyroid cancer is usually managed with iodine radiation. Consuming large amounts of iodine can reduce the effectiveness of the radiation.[viii]
Pinto beans belong to the same species as soybeans and peanuts, some of the most allergic foods. However, if you are allergic to soybeans or peanuts doesn’t mean that you’ll also be sensitive to different types of legumes. But always exercise caution. You should speak to a health provider if you suspect any allergic reaction to pinto beans.[ix]
Basically, the Pinto bean is a popular type of common bean. Although they are available in different forms, grocery stores sell them as common beans. You’ll find fresh pinto beans in the food section. Keep in mind that pinto beans should be shelled prior to cooking. You’ll commonly find them canned or dried.
There are refried and whole pinto beans. Most Mexican food processors prepare different varieties of refried beans. If you want to lower your sodium or fat intake, always make sure you check through the nutrition label. Fat and salt are often used to prepare refried beans.
Pinto beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) and other types of beans like black beans, the great northern beans, navy beans, and kidney beans are all known as ‘common beans’ and belong to the same species. Early Peruvian and Mexican civilizations originally cultivated pinto beans over 5,000 years ago.
Native to Peru, pinto beans were introduced to central and south America by the migrating Indian traders. Beans spread to Europe back in the 15th century. They were introduced to Europe by the Spanish explorers coming back from their voyages. Portuguese and Spanish traders brought pinto beans to Asia and Africa.
Since pinto beans are an affordable option for good proteins, they have, over the years, become increasingly popular across the globe. In fact, pinto beans are the most popular dried bean in the US. Today, the biggest commercial growers of pinto beans are in the United States, Brazil, Indonesia, and china.
Pinto beans are tiny and flavorful. They are an integral component of cuisine in several Latin American countries. The beans are commonly used in casseroles, stews, minestrone, and three-bean salads. Due to their similarity, pink beans and pinto beans are frequently used interchangeably.
How Pinto Beas are prepared
Before you start cooking your pinto beans, always make sure you wash them thoroughly to remove dust or dirt. Remove any broken or cracked beans. For half cup of pinto beans, boil one and a half cup of water. Simmer for about 20 minutes, even though the cooking time varies depending on the taste you want.
If you want to eat whole cooked or refried pinto beans you should try to make them at home. This helps reduce your fat or salt intake. Once your beans are well cooked, carefully add the beans to a skillet if you want refried beans. Remember to fry for 5 – 7 minutes over low heat, and then use the potato masher to smash them. You can add spices like cumin or chili powder to taste.
If you enjoy a salad recipe, stew, or soup, you can toss a few refried beans for more flavors. In case you don’t have pinto beans, you can substitute kidney beans or red beans.
Storage Tips And Safety
When buying legumes, make sure you check for uncracked beans that haven’t been exposed to moisture or dust. Today, you can purchase dried pinto beans in packed containers, but most stores sell pinto beans in bulk. You should store the dried pinto beans in a cool dark place. If properly stored, legumes can stay fresh for up to a year. However, if cooked and stored in a refrigerator, pinto beans can last for up to 3 days.
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- [i] Jacques PF, Cassidy A, Rogers G, Peterson JJ, Meigs JB, Dwyer JT. Higher dietary flavonol intake is associated with lower incidence of type 2 diabetes. J Nutr. 2013;143(9):1474-80. doi:10.3945/jn.113.177212
- [ii] Ha V, Sievenpiper JL, de Souza RJ et al. Effect of dietary pulse intake on established therapeutic lipid targets for cardiovascular risk reduction: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Can Med Assoc J. 2014;186(8):E252-E262. doi:10.1503/cmaj.131727
- [iii] Rebello CJ, Greenway FL, Finley JW. A review of the nutritional value of legumes and their effects on obesity and its related co-morbidities. Obes Rev. 2014;15(5):392-407. doi:10.1111/obr.12144
- [iv] Beans, pinto, dry. USDA Foods Product Information Sheet. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published December 2015.
- [v] Perry JR, Ying W. A review of physiological effects of soluble and insoluble dietary fibers. J Nutr Food Sci. 2016;6(2):1000476. doi:10.4172/2155-9600.1000476
- [vi] Sanders TA. How important is the relative balance of fat and carbohydrate as sources of energy in relation to health?. Proc Nutr Soc. 2016;75(2):147-53. doi:10.1017/S0029665115004188
- [vii] Chávez-Mendoza C, Sánchez E. Bioactive compounds from Mexican varieties of the common bean (phaseolus vulgaris): Implications for health. Molecules. 2017;22(8). doi:10.3390/molecules22081360
- [viii] Huber K, Brigide P, Bolis Bretas E, Canniatti-Brazaca SG. Phenolic acid, flavonoids and antioxidant activity of common brown beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) before and after cooking. J Nutr Food Sci. 2016;6(5):1000551. doi:0.4172/2155-9600.1000551
- [ix] Verma AK, Kumar S, Das M, Dwivedi PD. A comprehensive review of legume allergy. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2013;45(1):30-46. doi:10.1007/s12016-012-8310-6