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Nutritional Facts

Protein

  • Each half-cup serving of dry beans provides six to seven grams of protein, meets at least 10% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein, yet costs about 20 cents per serving.
  • A single half-cup serving of cooked dry beans counts as one, one-ounce serving of lean meat in the USDA Food Pyramid Meat and Beans group, and as a full serving of vegetables in the Vegetables group.
  • The quality and digestibility of beans can be improved by consuming them with cereal grains. Beans are a rich source in lysine, but a poor source of methionine. Cereal grains are a poor source of lysine, but high in methionine and other sulfur amino acids. When beans and grains are served together in dishes like beans and rice, or tortillas and refried beans, they provide a complimentary protein profile.

Kcalories

There are only 100 to 120 kcalories in a half-cup serving of beans. However, Kcalories and other nutrients are diluted in canned beans because the moisture content is higher.

Carbohydrates

  • Beans contain an average of 25 grams of carbohydrates per serving. The carbohydrates in cooked beans are mainly starch, a complex carbohydrate, and less than 1% of simple sugars, mostly Sucrose.
  • Discarding the soaking and cooking water helps remove oligosaccharides and reduces flatulence. Hot soaking removes about 50% of these sugars. Extended soaking removes more, but reduces vitamins and minerals. Canned beans may contain up to 4% sucrose as a flavor enhancer.

Fiber

  • A half-cup serving of cooked dry beans provides about 25-30% of the Daily Value of dietary fiber. About 75% of the fiber is insoluble which may reduce the risk of colon cancer. The remaining 25% of the fiber is soluble fiber which may reduce blood cholesterol. Studies have confirmed that beans are effective hypochoesterolemic agents when added to the diet.
  • Consumption of beans produces a moderate increase in blood glucose and insulin levels which may be helpful in the metabolic control of diabetes. The American Diabetes Association and the American Dietetic Association include beans in the exchange system.
  • The slower release of glucose and the increased satiety from beans may also to enhance the effectiveness of weight-reducing diets.

Lipids

A half-cup serving of beans contains less than 0.5 grams of mostly polyunsaturated fat and no cholesterol. Pinto bean lipid is 84% polyunsaturated fatty acids. Most of this fatty acid is linoleic acid.

Vitamins & Folacin

  • Although some B vitamins are lost in preparation, cooked dry beans retain more than 70% of these vitamins after hot soaking and cooking. Extended cooking times will result in greater B vitamin losses.
  • One half-cup serving of beans provides 36% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of 400 micrograms of folacin and 11% of the RDI for thiamin.

Minerals

  • One half-cup serving of cooked dry beans contains large amounts of iron, phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, potassium, copper, calcium, and zinc.
  • The iron and calcium content can increase slightly when hard water is used for home preparation. Canned beans sometimes contain added calcium to increase firmness.
  • The bioavailability of these minerals is somewhat lower due to the presence of fiber, phenolic compounds and phytic acid, which decreases their absorption. The absorption of the nonheme form of iron in beans can be increased by consuming beans with a source of vitamin C, or with small amounts of meat.
  • One half-cup serving of cooked, unsalted dry beans contains 500 mg of potassium and small amounts of sodium. The level of potassium may be useful in a hypertensive diet.
  • One half-cup serving of salted beans provides nearly 20% of the Daily Value for sodium on a 2,000-calorie diet. Most commercially prepared canned and dried beans contain added sodium for flavor. Check the label to determine sodium content.

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Bean Varieties

NameDescriptionUsesNamesSeeds/100g
PintoMed. size, brown with pink streaksFavorite for refried beans and other Mexican & South American dishes. Beans turn solid pink when cooked.

Cooking time: 1-1/2 to 2 hrs.
260-300
PinkMed. size, pinkish beigePopular in barbecue style dishes.

Cook 1 hr.
330-400
Great NorthernLarge, oval, whiteA frequent choice for soups, casseroles, baked dishes & mixing with other varieties.
Cook 1 hr.
Large White280-330
RedPea shape, small, darkAdds sparkle to bean salads. Can be used in any colored bean recipe.
Cook 1 to 1.5 hrs.
Mexican Red Bean,
Small Red
275-330
KidneyKidney shaped, large, redUsed as the favored bean in New Orleans' red bean dish and Southwest's popular chili.
Precooked, available in cans.
Mexican Bean150-200
Light Red KidneyKidney shaped, large, redAlso used as the favored bean in New Orleans' red bean dish, Southwest's popular chili, in salads and with rice.
Cook 1.5 to 2 hours
170-220
Small WhiteOval, small, whitethe bean of choice in Boston baked beans and the Senate dining room's favorite soup.
CranberryDeep red markings, pink skinA favorite for Italian cuisine. Also known as Roman beans. Loses streaks when cooked.
Cook 1.5 to 2 hrs.
Romano,
Speckled Sugar
145-225
NavyMedium white pea.A fine baker and soup maker.
Cook 1.5 to 2 hours
White Pea,
Alubias Chica
450-525
BlackPea shape, small, blackCaribbean and South American cuisine. Traditional in soups. Adds color to salads.
Cook 1.5 hrs.
Black Turtle,
Mexican Black, Spanish Black,
Preto
500-550

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Frequently Asked Questions

Unlike low-quality carbohydrates such as refined grains and sugary foods, dry beans raise blood-sugar levels slowly helping to stabilize your body's blood-sugar levels. Beans are an excellent source of fiber, so they curb your hunger, are virtually fat-free, and inexpensive.

Add one or two bay leaves, a whole peeled onion and several peppercorns to the cooking water for a pound of beans. Discard seasonings after cooking.

Add tender herbs and spices near the end of the cooking process as their flavor tends to diminish the longer they're cooked.

When using a pressure cooker be sure the pot is no more than half full of ingredients, including water or cooking liquid. Cook at 15 pounds pressure for the required time.

Beans may be cooked after or before soaking. Generally soaked beans take 15 to 20 minutes. Unsoaked beans generally take 20 to 25 minutes to cook. Some experimentation with appropriate cooking times may be necessary. The older the beans, the more cooking time required.

Reduce pressure at the end of the cooking time by running cold water over the lid of the pressure cooker. The cooker can also be removed from the heat and allowed to gradually reduce the pressure. If this method is used, remember that the beans continue cooking so you must cut the cooking time shown on the table by 2 to 3 minutes. To prevent mixture frothing or bubbling up through the pressure valve during cooking, add one tablespoonful of vegetable oil per cup of beans to the ingredients before cooking. The oil will also keep any bean skins that might come loose from rising up and clogging the steam escape valve.

No. Microwaving doesn't reduce the cooking time for dry beans. It usually takes 60 to 90 minutes to reach maximum and uniform tenderness with this method.

Unfortunately, assessing the age of packaged dry beans is difficult. Inspect the package and look for firm, clean, whole beans with a minimum of cracks and broken seed coats. The color should bright not muddy, and the beans should have a slight sheen.

Always use fresh dry beans if possible. Beans that have been stored for over 12 months or in unfavorable conditions may never soften.

Hard water may also cause hard beans. Research shows that adding salt to soaking water results in softer seed coats after cooking. Dissolve 3 tablespoons of table salt in 4 quarts of cold water and soak beans for 8 to 12 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the beans before cooking.

Add acidic foods, such as tomatoes, vinegar, lemon or calcium-rich molasses until near the end of the cooking time as these foods may toughen the skins.

Don't add salt until just before serving as it may also toughen the skins.

Always use fresh dry beans if possible. Beans that have been stored for over 12 months or in unfavorable conditions may never soften.

Hard water may also cause hard beans. Research shows that adding salt to soaking water results in softer seed coats after cooking. Dissolve 3 tablespoons of table salt in 4 quarts of cold water and soak beans for 8 to 12 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the beans before cooking.

Add acidic foods, such as tomatoes, vinegar, lemon or calcium-rich molasses until near the end of the cooking time as these foods may toughen the skins.

Don't add salt until just before serving as it may also toughen the skins.

Beans are a high-protein, low-acid food. Keep hot dishes at temperatures above 140 degrees F. and cold dishes at less than 40 degrees F. Store cooked beans in sealed containers for up to three days in the refrigerator and several weeks in the freezer.

Dry beans keep up to 12 months in an airtight container in a cool, dry environment away from direct sunlight. During storage, beans may either absorb or lose moisture which will affect the soaking and cooking time. If stored longer than 12 months, or exposed to unfavorable storage conditions beans may never soften sufficiently, no matter how long they're soaked or cooked.

Exact cooking time depends upon altitude, bean variety, water hardness, and the age of the product. Generally, most beans will cook to the desired firmness in one to one-and-one-half hours. Test frequently by tasting, or mashing a bean against the side of the pot with a fork.

Cooking beans in a slow cooker takes six to eight hours, or overnight.

Thoroughly rinse and drain dry beans before soaking. Discard damaged beans and any foreign material. Then use one of the two methods below to rehydrate the beans:

Quick Hot Soak:
Cover beans with water and boil for two minutes. Cover pot; soak for one to four hours. Discard soaking water;cover beans with fresh water and two tablespoons of oil before cooking. Oil reduces foaming during the cooking process.

Overnight Cold Soak:
Cover one pound of dry beans with 4 quarts of cold water and allow to soak overnight (12 hours or more). Discard soaking water;cover beans with fresh water and two tablespoons of oil before cooking. Oil reduces foaming during the cooking process.

Generally you may substitute one type of bean for most other beans. However, some beans such as black beans may add a slightly different taste and color.

If high-fiber foods such as dry beans are not a regular part of your diet, the oligosaccharides they contain may cause temporary digestive discomfort. Adding beans to your diet on a regular basis once or twice a week reduces this likelihood.

The best way to reduce oligosaccharides, tannins, phytic acid, and trypsin inhibitors, is to use the quick hot-soak method and add fresh water before cooking.

Improve the quality and digestibility of beans by consuming them with cereal grains. Beans are a rich source of lysine, which is low in cereal grains. Cereal grains are high in methionine and other sulfur amino acids. Together beans and grains like rice or tortillas provide a complimentary protein mixture.

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