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Surprising Health Benefits of Black Beans, According to Dietitians

Prevention 5 hrs ago Arielle Weg
Dietitians break down whether black beans are healthy, what are the health benefits of black beans, and how to eat black beans. © Elizabeth Fernandez - Getty Images Dietitians break down whether black beans are healthy, what are the health benefits of black beans, and how to eat black beans.

Whether you usually ask for no beans in your burrito bowl or regularly pile them high on your plate at the salad bar, black beans can be a polarizing food. But the little legume actually has some surprising health benefits you should consider before skipping the spoonful. We chatted with experts to ask, “Are black beans healthy?” We also asked about the health benefits of black beans, and how to eat black beans so you can incorporate them into more meals.

Are black beans healthy?

Experts agree that as long as you don’t have a sensitivity or allergy, black beans should definitely make it on your shopping list ASAP. “There are so many great benefits to eating black beans. They’re an inexpensive, accessible, and culturally diverse food that serves up long-lasting carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and healthy fats,” says Tessa Nguyen R.D., L.D.N., chef and registered dietitian. “I also like that they come in a variety of forms that make it easy to incorporate into any meal, whether you have time to cook them from dry, have 90 seconds to heat them up in a ready-to-eat package, or 10 seconds to use a can opener. The options are endless when it comes to cooking uses, too.”

Not only does Catherine Perez, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., a registered dietitian, agree and say black beans are “a nutritional powerhouse,” but they’re also a great budget-friendly option for those who want to eat nutritiously while being mindful of increasing grocery prices.

Additionally, though some people may be concerned about phytic acid, lectins, and tannins (known as anti-nutrients) found in beans that are said to lower the absorption of some nutrients, Perez assures that the process of cooking and soaking beans can help remove them.

Black beans nutrition

In a half-cup serving of black beans you’ll get:

  • 110 calories
  • 7 g protein
  • 0 g fat
  • 20 g carbohydrates
  • 5 g fiber
  • 55 mg calcium
  • 2 mg iron
  • 489 mg potassium

Health benefits of black beans

Like lentils and other legumes, black beans have a ton of health benefits to boast. Marisa Moore, M.B.A., R.D.N., L.D., registered dietitian nutritionist in media and culinary nutrition says black beans provide about half the recommended amount of daily fiber per cup, which is impressive considering less than 10% of Americans consume enough fiber daily. They contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, Perez explains, which is great for reducing cholesterol, improving heart health, supporting good gut health, and keeping the digestive tract moving. Just beware that if you’ve never consumed large amounts of high-fiber foods, introduce them slowly into your diet so as to not upset your stomach, Perez warns.

Black beans contain a class of antioxidants called anthocyanins that give them their dark color and can help support brain health and lower the risk for heart disease and diabetes, Moore says. Perez adds black beans also contain flavinoids that are associated with reducing inflammation and chronic disease risks.

The legume also contains resistant starches which bypass digestion in the upper digestive tract, Perez explains. This stops the beans from being broken down into simple sugar and lowers the response to glucose. “This means we get more blood glucose control when consuming things like black beans,” she says.

Additionally, black beans are a great source of plant protein, Moore says. They also contain high amounts of iron and magnesium, she adds. Moore suggests pairing black beans with vitamin C, like alongside tomato salsa, to enhance iron absorption and maximize benefits.

How to eat black beans

You can buy dried beans (these require soaking and cooking the black beans in advance), but for a quicker and equally as delicious option opt for canned beans. Perez notes many cultures serve a bowl of beans and rice as a main entree or alongside other dishes for a balanced meal. She particularly likes them in soups, stews, curry, mixed with rice, in a salad, or turned in refried beans to enjoy in tacos or burritos. You can also add black beans to sweet or savory dishes or try them whole or mashed until you find a way that works for your taste, Nguyen says.

Need some more inspiration? Try these delicious black bean recipes.

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