Are you looking for ways to lose some weight? Or do you want to go for a healthier, nutrition-dense diet? Add black beans to your diet. They provide a healthy dose of protein, potassium, folate, and fiber, without draining your wallet.

Regular consumption of black beans helps protect against heart disease, diabetes, cancer and prevents weight gain.

What are black beans?

Black beans are small 1/2 inch long oval shaped beans. They are also known as turtle beans, frijol negro, zaragoza, and feijao preto. They have satiny black skin and are white in the center.

They have a mushroom-like meaty flavor. Black beans, botanically known as Phaseolus vulgaris, have been a staple food of many native American counties.

These beans date back to 7,000 years when they were a part of the Central and South American cuisine. They are common in South American, Mexican, Spanish and Caribbean cuisine.

These beans are used in stews, soups, dips, and salads. They are often served with rice. Some of the famous black bean dishes include Mexican burritos, tacos, and Brazilian feijoda.

Black beans nutrition

Black beans contain 1.3 calories per gram, which means their calorie content is quite low as compared to their weight. So, eating this low-energy-dense food can help control your calorie intake and help you lose weight.

They are an excellent source of fiber and protein and have minimal fat content. These beans are also rich in folate, manganese, magnesium and Vitamin B1.

One cup (172 grams) of cooked black beans provides (1) –

  • Calories: 227
  • Protein: 15 grams
  • Fiber: 15 grams
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 41 grams
  • Folate: 256 mcg (64% of DV)
  • Manganese: 0.8 mg (38% of DV)
  • Vitamin B1: 0.4 mg (28% of DV)
  • Magnesium: 120 mg (30% of DV)
  • Phosphorus: 241 mg (24% of DV)
  • Iron: 3.6 mg (20% of DV)
  • Copper: 0.4 mg (18% of DV)

Health benefits of black beans

1. Protect against cancer

Recent research has shown that consuming black beans can lower the risk of breast, liver, colon, lung and prostate cancer. Black beans contain phytochemicals like flavonoids, tannins, phytic acid, triterpenes, and phytosterols that are responsible for their anti-cancer properties.

In one study, when researchers fed a diet containing black beans to rats, they showed significantly lowered colon cancer incidence and multiplicity (2).

The antioxidants found in black beans help combat free-radical damage.  Studies have also shown that the high antioxidant content of these beans prevents DNA damage and gene mutation, which lowers the risk of developing cancerous cells (3).

Health benefits of black beans infographic

2. Improve heart health

Turtle beans are packed with fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin B6, and phytonutrients, all of which help improve heart health.

The flavonoids in black beans like delphinidin, petunidin, and malvidin, help control fat metabolism and aid cholesterol excretion (4, 5).

Vitamin B6 and folate help prevent the accumulation of homocysteine in the body. Too much homocysteine in the body can damage blood vessels and lead to heart issues.

The high fiber content in black beans also helps lower the amount of cholesterol in the blood. Fiber helps to remove the toxins from the body, which keep arteries free of dangerous plaque build-up (6).

Turtle beans also contain quercetin and saponins, which help protect the heart. Quercetin helps reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and protect against the damage caused by LDL cholesterol.

Saponins also help lower blood lipid and cholesterol levels, and this protects the heart.

3. Help lower blood pressure

Black beans are rich in soluble fiber, magnesium, and potassium, all great nutrients for reducing blood pressure. Low sodium intake is also essential to maintain healthy levels of blood pressure, and black beans are naturally low in sodium.

If you buy canned black beans, make sure you choose a low sodium option.

4. Help prevent and manage diabetes

These beans are an excellent source of complex carbs like starch which does not cause sugar spikes. Eating the wrong type of carbs can lead to a sugar high, which is followed by a crash.

In the long term, this can lead to diabetes. Black beans are a great food to have for anyone who has formed a resistance to insulin, like people who have diabetes.

These beans are also high in fiber content, which makes it beneficial for individuals with type 1 diabetes. Consuming black beans also helps improve blood sugar levels, lipids and insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

5. Improve digestive health

These beans are rich in dietary fiber which helps improve digestion by keeping the digestive tract clean. Fiber also helps keep the gut flora balanced, which helps promote digestive health. It also helps prevent constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.

According to a study published in The British Journal of Nutrition, black beans contain non-digestible fermentable components and phenolic compounds which demonstrate antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

So, they help protect colon health and prevent colon cancer (7).

6. Improve bone health

Black beans contain essential nutrients like iron, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc, which help build bone structure and strength.

Calcium and phosphorus help improve bone structure, while zinc helps in maintaining the strength and elasticity of bones and joints.

The high magnesium content in black beans is vital for over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body including metabolism. It is essential for improving bone health as well.

7. High protein content

Black beans are a rich source of vegetarian protein. One cup of black beans provides 15 grams of protein. Protein is needed for many vital functions in the body. It helps build muscle and keep the body healthy.

A deficiency in protein can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness, cataracts, heart issues, and hormonal imbalance.

8. Helps with weight loss

Black or turtle beans are low in calories and rich in protein and dietary fiber, which is an excellent combination to have if you’re trying to lose weight.

High fiber foods help to keep you fuller for longer and hence reduce appetite. Many studies have shown that fiber-rich foods like black beans can decrease the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

9. Rich source of vitamins and minerals

These magical beans are packed with many vitamins and minerals like iron, magnesium, copper, folate, and phosphorus. These nutrients make black beans an excellent choice for vegetarians, who may be lacking these vitamins and minerals in their diet.

Folate helps the body to make new healthy cells. It is also essential for pregnant women to prevent congenital disabilities. Magnesium aids in the production and distribution of energy and synthesis of protein.

We need potassium for proper muscle, and nerve function and iron helps the body oxygenate itself.

10. Help prevent anemia

Anemia is a common, easily treated condition that occurs if you don’t have enough iron in your body to build healthy red cells (8). Iron deficiency anemia can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain and other symptoms.

These beans are rich in iron. One cup of black beans can take care of 20 percent of your daily requirement of iron. So, have more black beans to add more iron to your diet.

Side effects of black beans

Flatulence, bloating and stomach distress are some of the common side effects of eating black beans. Soaking black beans in water overnight before cooking them can help reduce these symptoms.

Also add beans to your diet gradually, so that your body can grow accustomed to their high fiber content.

Turtle beans also contain chemical compounds called purines. When you consume high levels of purines, they can turn into uric acid in the body. Gout and kidney stones are the results of excess uric acid in the body.

Frequently asked questions about black beans

How much black beans should we eat?

Beans are incredibly nutritious, and they can lower the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. The US Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating three cups of legumes or beans per week.

Are canned beans better or dried beans?

Nutritionally, both canned and dried beans are the same. However, canned beans may contain more sodium. So, opt for canned beans that mention low-sodium or no salt added.

You can also rinse canned beans before using them to lower their sodium content.

Canned beans are convenient as they do not take much time to prepare. However, some people prefer to use dried beans. Though they take longer to cook, they are lower in price.

Can black beans make you gassy?

The main reason why we feel gassy after eating beans is that we are not used to eating so much fiber. You will stop feeling gassy when you have beans more regularly.

Beans contain resistant starch which feeds the good bacteria in the guy and helps them thrive. So, beans are good for the digestive system.

Is it essential to soak or sprout black beans?

Turtle beans contain phytates and tannins which can lower nutrient availability. Soaking and sprouting beans help to eliminate phytic acid, and this increases mineral absorption and makes the beans more digestible.

Final thoughts

Black beans are amongst the best foods for your health and your waistline. They improve heart health, digestive health, protect against cancer, prevent and manage diabetes and also help reduce weight.

Black or turtle beans are rich in protein, dietary fiber and many other minerals and vitamins. Soak and sprout these beans to get the maximum nutritional benefit from them.

Black beans are small 1/2 inch long oval shaped beans. They are also known as turtle beans, frijol negro, zaragoza, and feijao preto.