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Black beans Nutrition facts

Black beans are small, with deep black skin dry beans in the Fabaceae family of legumes. The beans are used in classic Latin American, Caribbean, and Southwestern (U.S.) cuisine.

In Taxonomy, black beans belong to the same common bean (Fabaceae) family of field beans, in the genus: Vicia. Scientific name: Phaseolus vulgaris.

Synonyms: Turtle beans, caviar criollo, and frijoles negros.

Black beans

Black bean is an annual dicotyledonous field crop. However, there are some varieties of pole black beans grown in the home gardens.

It grows well in fertile-rich, sandy soils. Pink, lilac, or purple flowers appear in cymes after about 60-65 days after seedling, which develop into long, cylindrical pods consisting of 4-8 medium-sized, ovate, jet-black seeds with tiny white eyes.

The color of the beans is lost in cooking, and the boiled beans acquire a deep purple color, with a mild, sweet flavor and a creamy texture.

Mature but black shelling beans are sold for fresh eating. They are most commonly harvested just short of the dried stage for use in cooking.

Health benefits of Black beans

  1. Black beans are one of the finest alternative vegetarian protein sources. 100 grams (3.5 oz) of beans carry 341 calories and 21.60 g or 38% of recommended daily values of protein.

  2. The beans are moderate sources of antioxidant anthocyanidin compounds like Delphinidin and Malvidin, a primary plant pigment that gives black to deep purple pigment color to the beans.

  3. Black beans are good sources of petunidin, a O-methylated anthocyanidin of the 3-hydroxy type antioxidant compound. The total amount of petunidin in 100 grams of beans is 0.15 mg. It is a natural organic compound, a dark-red or purple water-soluble pigment found in beans and fruits including chokeberries.

  4. Like other legumes, frijoles negros also contain ample amounts of dietary fiber. 100 g of beans carry 15.5 g or 41% of fiber. Dietary fiber works as a bulk laxative that protects the colon mucosa by decreasing its exposure time to toxic substances as well as by binding to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon.

  5. Dietary fiber has been found to reduce blood cholesterol levels by decreasing the reabsorption of cholesterol-binding bile acids in the colon.

  6. The beans are gluten-free sources of protein, and for the same reason, suitable food alternatives in gluten-sensitive and celiac disease patients.

  7. Black beans are one of the excellent sources of many B-complex vitamins like folates, thiamin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and niacin. Most of these vitamins work as co-factors for the enzymes in carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism.

  8. Black beans hold amazingly high amounts of folates; 444 μg or 111% of daily values. Folate, along with vitamin B-12, is one of the essential co-factor for DNA synthesis and cell division. Adequate folate in the diet around conception and during pregnancy may help prevent neural tube defects in the babies.

  9. Black beans contain very good amounts of minerals. 100 g of dry beans hold copper-93%, iron-63%, manganese-46%, phosphorus-50%, calcium-12%, and zinc-33%.

  10. 3.5 oz (100 g) of Black beans hold 1483 mg or 31.5% potassium. Potassium is an important electrolyte in the cells and body fluids, which helps counter the pressing effects of sodium on heart and blood pressure.

  11. The U.S. Government Dietary Guidelines-2005 recommend adults consume three cups of cooked dry beans a week.

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

Black beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), Raw, mature seeds, value per 100 g. (Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percent of RDA
Energy 341 Kcal 17%
Carbohydrates 62.36 g 48%
Protein 21.60 g 38.57%
Total Fat 1.42 g 7%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 15.5 g 41%
Folates 444 μg 111%
Niacin 1.955 mg 12%
Pantothenic acid 0.899 mg 18%
Pyridoxine 0.286 mg 22%
Riboflavin 0.193 mg 15%
Thiamin 0.900 mg 75%
Vitamin-C 0 mg 0%
Sodium 5 mg <1%
Potassium 1483 mg 31.5%
Calcium 123 mg 12%
Copper 0.841 μg 93%
Iron 5.02 mg 63%
Magnesium 171 mg 43%
Manganese 1.060 mg 46%
Phosphorus 352 mg 50%
Selenium 3.2 μg 6%
Zinc 3.65 mg 33%
Isoflavones 0 mg
Petunidin 15.4 mg
Delphinidin 18.5 mg
Malvidin 10.6 mg

Selection and storage

Dry Black beans are very popular in the North and South Americas, where the Latin American population is present. Dry beans in air-seal packets or canned beans for immediate to short-term use are readily available year-round in supermarkets.

The beans keep well for several months when stored in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight, humidity, and excessive moisture.

Sometimes home gardeners use fresh, immature whole bean pods in a way similar to green beans.

In some farmers' markets fresh "black shelling beans" are available during summer and early fall. They can be used as fresh-shelled beans, just like lima or fava beans. They cook quickly and do not require soaking.

Treat fresh black shelling beans like any other shelled beans. For optimum flavor, they should be shelled and used within three to four days.

Preparation and serving methods

Black beans are one of the most loved dry beans in the Southern states of the U.S, Mexico, and Brazil.

Cooking often requires soaking in cold water for 5-8 hours. Black beans take more time to cook than most other varieties of dry beans. They can also be simmered for 1 hour, or pressure cooked after soaking for 35 minutes. Soaking and boiling also help eliminate anti-nutritional compounds and reduce flatulence.

Feijoada-national dish of brazil. Photo credit: sylvie szafranski

Here are some serving tips:

  • Black beans most often feature in the Southern state's Cajun and Creole cuisine.

  • Frijoles negros refritos (Refried black beans) is a Mexican and Southwestern staple. Here boiled beans are sauteed in a pan and fried with added oil, onion, and spice powder. The beans are then mashed using a potato masher. Garnish with cilantro, green onions and serve as dip with burritos/tortillas.

  • The beans also used in baked bean recipes, with bacon in a molasses-based sauce, in a way similar to kidney, cannellini and navy beans.

  • Shelled and boiled black beans are also used in bean salads, delicious soups, and stews mixed with other complementary herbs, spices, and vegetables.

  • Feijoada, the national dish of Brazil, is prepared with black beans and a variety of salted pork or beef and eaten with rice. Orange slices served as an accompaniment to help iron absorption.

  • Black beans casserole is a traditional Mexican dish, popular in Southwestern states and Mexico.

  • In Maharashtra state of India, the black beans are known as kala ghevada and employed in the preparation of kala ghevadyachi usal.

Safety profile

Black beans should be consumed only after thorough cooking. Like other dry kidney beans, consumption of un-boiled/undercooked black beans also can cause phyto-hemagglutinin (lectin) toxin poisoning, a condition which may cause clumping of red blood cells in humans. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Cooking in a pressure cooker neutralizes these compounds, and makes them safe for consumption. (Medical disclaimer).

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Further Reading:

  1. USDA National Nutrient Database.

  2. Fieldbean- Horticulture Purdue University.

  3. Phaseolus vulgaris.

  4. Alternative Crop Guide-DRY EDIBLE BEANS.

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