Bean Facts

Find answers to your questions about bean nutrition and dietary considerations here.

  1. What is the nutritional profile of cooked beans?
  2. What benefits do dry beans offer to restaurants and food service operations?
  3. Can I boost my antioxidant intake by eating dry beans?
  4. How can I reduce the flatulence- and gas-causing properties of dry beans?
  5. How many beans should I eat in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle?
  6. I know that beans are a good source of fiber, but is it soluble or insoluble fiber?
  7. Why can’t I eat dry beans raw?
  8. I’m a vegetarian/vegan, so I eat beans for protein. But, I’ve heard that beans do not provide a complete protein on their own. What can I do to get complete proteins into my diet?


What is the nutritional profile of cooked beans?

Beans are an excellent source of vegetable protein and minerals such as iron, magnesium and zinc. They are rich in folic acid, an element associated with the reduction of such birth defects as Spina Bifida, and they also protect against heart disease. Beans are also a good source of non-lactic calcium. They are rich in soluble dietary fibre, which helps to bring down cholesterol levels and also contain estrogens of vegetable origin, which contribute towards reducing certain cancers caused by hormonal action.

Nutritional values of cooked beans (PDF file)
Nutritional values of dry beans (PDF file)

 


What benefits do dry beans offer to restaurants and food service operations?

These days, restaurateurs must be prepared to respond to their clients’ growing concern about health and diet. In terms of both their nutritional qualities and their culinary potential, legumes are one of the healthiest and wisest choices as dietary constituents. Want to make some amazing bean dishes yourself? Check out our recipes!

A Healthy Option (PDF file)


Can I boost my antioxidant intake by eating dry beans?

Although researchers haven’t come up with a foolproof way to avoid the indelicate side effect of beans, they have found yet another reason why you should eat more of them. In addition to their high fiber and protein content, a new study finds that beans, particularly black ones, are a rich but overlooked source of antioxidants and may provide health benefits similar to some common fruits, including grapes, apples and cranberries. Try them with other veggies and avocado in this Santa Fe Cobb Salad recipe!

Beans are a rich but overlooked source of antioxidants, by Mark T. Sampson (PDF file)


How can I reduce the flatulence and gas-causing properties of dry beans?

If high-fiber foods such as dry beans are not a regular part of your diet, the natural oligosaccharides (complex carbohydrates) in beans may cause temporary digestive discomfort. Research shows that adding beans to your diet on a regular basis — at least once or twice a week — reduces flatulence.

The best way to reduce beans’ naturally occurring oligosaccharides, tannins, phytic acid, and trypsin inhibitors is to use the quick hot-soak method to soften dry beans, then drain the soaking water and start with fresh water for cooking.


How many beans should I eat in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

The U.S. Government’s Dietary Guidelines 2005 urge adults to consume three (3) cups of cooked dry beans a week, while most Americans don’t even eat one (1) cup in a week.


What is the difference between soluble and insoluble fiber, and which of the two do beans contain?

Neither soluble nor insoluble fiber is digested or absorbed into the bloodstream. The difference between the two is that soluble fiber forms a gel when mixed with liquid, while insoluble fiber does not. Soluble fiber binds with fatty acids, prolonging stomach emptying time so that sugar is released and absorbed more slowly. Its benefits include lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), therefore reducing the risk of heart disease, and regulating blood sugar for people with diabetes. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, passes through our bodies largely intact, moving bulk through and balancing the acidity of the intestines. It promotes regular bowel movement, helping to remove toxic waste through the colon in less time, and helps prevent colon cancer by keeping an optimal pH in intestines, which prevent microbes from producing cancerous substance. While beans contain both types of fiber, they are particularly high in soluble fiber content.


Why can’t I eat dry beans raw?

Many types of beans contain a class of proteins called lectins. These proteins have the ability to interfere with the cell membrane repair process that occurs as a part of digestion. If not destroyed by cooking, lectins can cause a severe form of food poisoning, with attendant nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.


I’m a vegetarian/vegan, so I eat beans for protein. But, I’ve heard that beans do not provide a complete protein on their own. What can I do to get complete proteins into my diet?

Improve the nutritional quality of a meal containing beans by consuming them with cereal grains. Beans are a rich source of lysine (an amino acid), which is low in cereal grains. On the other hand, cereal grains are high in methionine and other important amino acids (building blocks that make up a complete protein). Together, beans and grains, or grain-based foods such as rice, tortillas and pasta, complement each other to provide a complete protein.