Black Beans: Nutrition, Benefits, Recipes, And More

Written by Varsha Patnaik , MSc (Biotechnology), Certified Diet & Nutrition Coach

Black beans are a kind of legume that are known for their high nutritional value and health benefits. Along with being inexpensive, these are also readily available as canned or dried beans. Rich in protein and fiber, they make for a good addition to a variety of meals starting from smoothies, cakes, pizzas, and burgers to soups, salads, rice, and bean stew. Here in this article, let’s take a look at black beans nutrition, health benefits, and side effects along with a few recipes for you to make and relish.

Black Beans Nutrition Facts

Black beans are an excellent source of carbohydrates, fiber (both soluble and insoluble), and proteins. With about 7 grams of protein in every ½ cup serving, these can easily meet your daily protein requirement, especially for vegetarians (1).

As per the USDA, ½ cup of black beans contains:

  • Calories: 109
  • Carbohydrates: 20g
  • Protein: 7g
  • Fiber: 8.3g
  • Fat: 0.4g
  • Sodium: 461mg
  • Sugars: 0.3g

While canned beans are quick and easy to include in your diet, these are usually high in sodium and low in other nutrients as compared to dry beans (2). If opting for canned beans, it is thus advisable to choose a “no-salt” or “low-sodium” alternative and make sure to rinse and drain the canned beans before use. Dried beans, on the other hand, take longer to prepare and cook, but are usually more cost-effective and easy to buy in bulk.

Black beans do not contain any sugar and have very little fat, most of which being polyunsaturated is beneficial for the heart (3). Black beans are also rich in flavonoids, folate, manganese, magnesium, and thiamin. Black beans with brown rice makes a complete meal in itself and is an easy staple for many.

Being highly nutritious and easy to include in your diet, black beans provide you with many health benefits in an easy way (4).

Top Health Benefits Of Black Beans

  • Rich Source Of Dietary Plant Proteins

Due to their high protein content, black beans make for an important protein alternative for vegetarians and vegan diets. With their meat-like texture, they are also easy to incorporate in various kinds of dishes. They are also a good plant source of the important protein lysine usually found in animal meat (5). Also, being highly nutritious and readily available in bulk, they prove to be an important source of nutrition in poor and developing countries.

  • Help Regulate Blood Sugar Levels

The glycemic index of a food indicates how soon it raises your blood sugar levels once you consume it (6). Black beans have a low glycemic index of 30, which means they don’t spike your blood sugar levels as much. Additionally, black beans also help keep it in control when taken along with high GI foods like rice (7). This plays an important role in the diet of people with diabetes. The insoluble fiber in black beans acts as a trap for carbohydrates, thereby delaying their conversion to sugar in the bloodstream (8), (9).

  • Good For Your Heart

Many studies have suggested the potential role of black beans in lowering bad cholesterol levels and reducing blood pressure (10),(11). This is especially due to its high soluble fiber content (12). A research was conducted on 66 non-smoking men in the group of 35-75 yrs who had undergone colonoscopy. The results reported that the daily intake of about 2–10 g of soluble fiber results in a significant decrease in total blood cholesterol and also the harmful low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (13). Abnormal cholesterol levels, especially LDL cholesterol leads to various cardiac health issues (14). A diet rich in black beans and other high-fiber foods help in lowering the LDL and improving your heart health.

  • Rich In Antioxidants

Along with dietary fiber and protein, black beans are also rich in phytonutrients (polyphenols and flavonoids) that function as antioxidants (9). The flavonoids present in their seed coat are color-producing phyto-nutrients that act as antioxidants in the body (15). They fight the toxic free radicals and help reduce the possibilities of chronic diseases like cardiac disease, diabetes, and even cancer (16).

  • Good For Your Digestive Health

Black beans are high in insoluble fiber and resistant starch, that help improve the natural gut flora of our body, otherwise known as prebiotics (17), (18).The resistant starch resists digestion by the pancreatic enzymes in the small intestine and move on to the colon where they interact with the gut flora and result in formation of short-chain fatty acids like butyrate. These not only help lower the blood cholesterol levels but also help maintain the natural balance of the intestines (19).

Black beans with their high nutrition levels and potential health benefits, are therefore a must in your regular diet. Going further, we see how you can incorporate black beans in your daily diet to reap the many benefits.

How To Add Black Beans To Your Diet

When using canned black beans, make sure to choose one with no added sodium. Rinse and drain them before use to wash off the excess sodium content. For dried black beans, sort them for any small rocks or debris. Then wash and soak in water for a good 8 to 10 hours before cooking, to get the ultimate flavor and texture. Soaking the dry beans not only reduces the cooking time but also removes the anti-nutrients like phytates that hamper mineral absorption in our bodies (20), (21).

Black beans can be incorporated in every meal of the day. You can have boiled beans in your salad and soups, make a puree, and use it as a dip or spread over tortillas or simply have them roasted for a quick filling snack. Black beans can also be easily added to cakes, cookies, pizza, burgers and brownies to make your fast food cravings healthier and more nutritious. Here are a few recipes to help you get started!

Recipes Using Black Beans

1. Sweet Potato, Avocado, And Black Bean Tacos

Sweet Potato, Avocado, And Black Bean Tacos

Shutterstock

Ingredients

  • sweet potatoes (scrubbed and cut into 1/2″ chunks) – 1 3/4 lb
  • olive oil – 1 tablespoon
  • chili powder – 1 teaspoon
  • black beans (rinsed and drained) – 1 can (15 oz.) no-salt-added
  • salsa verde – 1/2 cup
  • avocado (thinly sliced) – 1
  • corn tortillas – 8
  • crumbled feta cheese – 1/4 cup
  • cilantro (garnish)

Instructions

  1. Rinse the canned beans and keep aside to drain.
  2. Toss the sweet potatoes in olive oil with 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt and chili powder.
  3. Line them up on a large, rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes in a 450°F oven.
  4. Combine the rinsed black beans with salsa verde in a saucepan and stir on medium heat until warm.
  5. Serve the beans and sweet potatoes with corn tortillas and avocado and feta cheese, garnished with cilantro.

2. Cuban Black-Bean Stew With Rice

Ingredients

  • white rice (long-grain) – 1 1/2 cup
  • black beans – 2 cup
  • vegetable broth – 1 can
  • olive oil – 1 tablespoons
  • red onion (medium) – 1
  • garlic – 1 clove
  • red bell pepper – 1
  • cider vinegar – 1 tablespoon
  • dried oregano – 1/2 teaspoon
  • salt – to taste
  • pepper – to season
  • lime wedges
  • fresh cilantro
  • sliced radishes

Instructions

  1. Rinse and drain the beans.
  2. Take oil in a large saucepan and heat over medium.
  3. Add in the onion, garlic, and bell pepper.
  4. Cook for about 8-10 minutes till the onion is soft.
  5. Add the beans, along with broth, vinegar, and oregano.
  6. Mash a few beans and cook for 6-8 minutes until slightly thickened.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve the beans over rice garnished with lime wedges and cilantro.

3. Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup

Shutterstock

Ingredients

  • black beans (rinsed, drained) – 3 (15-oz.) cans
  • broth (chicken or vegetable) – 3 cups
  • extra-virgin olive oil – 2 tablespoons.
  • bay leaf – 1
  • red onion (medium, finely chopped) – 1
  • jalapeño (minced) – 1
  • garlic (minced) – 2 cloves
  • tomato paste – 1 tablespoon
  • ground cumin – 1/2 teaspoons
  • chili powder – 1 teaspoon
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper (freshly ground)
  • sour cream
  • sliced avocado
  • chopped fresh cilantro
  • lime wedges

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add and cook the onions for about 5 minutes until soft and translucent.
  3. Add garlic and jalapeños and cook for about 2 minutes until fragrant.
  4. Stir in the tomato paste to coat the vegetables, and cook for about a minute more.
  5. Stir in some salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder to season.
  6. Add the rinsed and drained black beans along with the broth.
  7. Add in a bay leaf, and bring the soup to a boil.
  8. Simmer until the soup is slightly thick and reduced.
  9. Remove the bay leaf and let the soup cool slightly.
  10. Blend the soup to a desired consistency and serve with a dollop of sour cream, sliced avocado and cilantro.

Now that we know how to include black beans in our diet, let’s have a look at a few of its possible side effects as well.

Possible Side Effects Of Black Beans

  • High Sodium Content

Canned black beans are often found to be high in sodium content as compared to dried beans (2). Studies have shown that the simple act of rinsing and draining the canned beans reduces the sodium content considerably (22). Those with high blood pressure are thus usually advised to avoid the canned beans or look for no-sodium alternatives (23). The dried black beans make for a better choice in such cases.

  • Bloating

Legumes are known to contain complex carbohydrates called oligosaccharides that are hard to digest. As a result, the intake of legumes, including black beans, might cause intestinal gas, bloating, and other gastro-intestinal discomforts. If you experience any such symptom on consumption of black beans, it is important to include it in your diet in small quantities and low frequency. Also, soaking the dried beans or sprouting them helps get rid of the oligosaccharides, providing some relief from the digestive issues (24).

  • Allergies

While black bean allergies are rare, it might have an adverse reaction for people who are allergic to other legumes, most notably soy and peanuts (25). Black beans are also closely related to kidney beans, pinto beans and green beans, so an allergy to any of these might make you sensitive to black beans consumption as well.

Summary

Black beans are readily available, easy to include in your diet and are a powerhouse of nutrients as well. Including black beans in your diet regularly fills you with the right nutrition and helps you improve your health overall. Proper preparation and cooking methods are key to avoiding the side-effects and reaping the many essential health benefits of black beans.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Can I eat black beans everyday?

Yes, about ½ cup of black beans can be consumed per day, provided you follow the right preparation methods. While the dried beans need to be soaked for 8-10 hrs, the canned variety should be rinsed and drained before use for best results.

Are black beans good for weight loss?

Black beans are high in dietary fiber and make you feel full easily. This in turn reduces your calorie intake, thereby helping you lose weight ultimately (26).

Can eating too many beans be harmful?

Too much intake of black beans might aggravate bloating and other gastrointestinal issues. While overconsumption of the canned beans might lead to an increase in your sodium intake, the dried beans need to be soaked or sprouted to get rid of the hard to digest oligosaccharides and the harmful anti-nutrients (24). 

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

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