Cannellini beans, also known as Italian white kidney beans, belong to common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) cultivars in the Fabaceae family of legumes. They are integral to the classic Mediterranean dishes, particularly in Italian cuisine.
Binomial name: Phaseolus vulgaris. Genus: Vigna. Cannellini beans are also known as abulia beans, ingot beans, cannelloni, white coco, etc.
|Dry cannellini beans.|
Cannellini is a dwarf bush-type bean (dicotyledonous) plant. It flourishes in well-draining loam soil supplemeted with adequate moisture and humus. It is a short duration crop and takes 75-90 days from seedling to harvest.
Pods appear in bunches with each holding about 4-8 plump, creamy-white seeds. Cannellini beans are slightly larger and flatter than haricot beans and surrounded by a thin white seed coat. Boiled cannellini feature a fine nutty flavor and pleasant beany taste.
Cannellini beans are an excellent source of easily digestible bean starch, protein, fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
Cannellini beans are cholesterol-free, low-fat legumes, and therefore, a good choice for cardiovascular health. The beans carry 333 calories and 23.36 g (41% of recommended daily allowance) of protein per 100 g.
The beans compose of small quantities of isoflavones and pro-anthocyanidin dimers. Isoflavones in the diet have been found to reduce post-menopausal cancer in women and osteoporosis.
Cannellini seed coat is an excellent source of dietary fiber and calcium among the white beans. Fiber works as a bulk laxative that helps to protect the colon mucosa from toxic substances through binding to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon.
Dietary fiber has shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels by decreasing reabsorption of cholesterol binding bile acids in the colon.
Cannellini beans do not contain gluten-protein in them. For the same reason, gluten-allergic and celiac-disease patients prefer them as protein-rich, gluten-free food alternatives.
Cannellini beans are very good sources of several B-complex vitamins like folates, pyridoxine, thiamin (vitamin B-1), pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and niacin. Most of these vitamins works as co-factors for the enzymes in carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism.
Dry Cannellini beans hold 388 μg of folates (97% of DV). 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 the pregnancy may help prevent neural-tube defects in the newborns.
Cannellini are treasure house of minerals. 100 g of dry Cannellini hold calcium-24%, iron-130%, manganese-78%, phosphorus-43% and zinc-33%.
100 g of beans hold 1795 mg or 38% potassium which is essential electrolyte of cell and body fluids which helps to counter pressing effects of sodium on heart and blood pressure.
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating about 3 cups of legumes, including beans, per week. To meet the weekly Dietary Guidelines for legumes, you need to eat half a cup of beans everyday.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.85 g||4%|
|Dietary Fiber||15.2 g||40%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.732 mg||14.6%|
In the US and Canada, dried, cooked and canned cannellini beans in water or oil are available online and in the supermarkets.
Fresh shelled beans also available in the farmers market in season.
For dry beans, look for cream-white, smooth beans in packets that is organic produced for extra freshness, flavor and fluffy texture. For convenience, however, cooked beans in cans also work well in quick-recipes.
Avoid those with split, surface crack, or cuts as they do not stand-well once cooked.
Store them in a cool, dark place, in air-seal plastic/metallic bin away from high temperatures and humidity.
Cannellini are one of the most sought-after beans in the North America and Europe for their wholesome nutritional properties. Cooked cannellini has fine, creamy texture and a pleasant nutty flavor. They stay whole and firm when cooked.
Dry beans often require soaking for a minimum of 5 hours in cold water. Cook them in wide pan so that you can remove foam which removes much of gas-forming anti-nutritional substances.
Here are some serving tips:
|Sausage and cannellini beans. Photo courtesy: Ryan Godfrey|
Cannellini beans appear so often in the traditional Tuscan cuisine where they employed in dips, soups, stews mixed with other complementing herbs, spices and vegetables.
The beans are essential ingredient in tonno e fagioli-tuna and bean salad.
Generally cannellini beans used boiled in dishes and mashed in dips and served with chunks of fresh or toasted bread.
Consumption of raw, and soaked cannellini beans is not advisable and harmful for health. It 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 pressure cooker eliminates the toxins and make them safe. (Medical disclaimer).
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