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Cannellini beans Nutrition facts

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 Italian cuisine.

Binomial name: Phaseolus vulgaris. Genus: Vigna. Cannellini beans are also known as abulia beans, ingot beans, cannelloni, white coco, etc.

Cannellini beans
Dry cannellini beans.

Cannellini is a dwarf bush-type bean (dicotyledonous) plant. It flourishes in well-draining loam soil, supplemented 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 features a fine nutty flavor and pleasant beany taste.

Health benefits of Cannellini beans

  1. Cannellini beans are an excellent source of easily digestible bean starch, protein, fiber, minerals, and vitamins.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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 work as co-factors for the enzymes in carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism.

  8. 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 pregnancy may help prevent neural tube defects in newborns.

  9. Cannellini are a treasure house of minerals. 100 g of dry Cannellini hold calcium-24%, iron-130%, manganese-78%, phosphorus-43% and zinc-33%.

  10. 100 g of beans hold 1795 mg or 38% potassium which is an essential electrolyte of cell and body fluids that helps to counter the 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 every day.

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

Cannellini beans nutrition profile, Raw, Dry, Mature seeds, values per 100 g. (Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percent of RDA
Energy 333 Kcal 16.65%
Carbohydrates 60.27 g 46%
Protein 23.36 g 41.7%
Total Fat 0.85 g 4%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 15.2 g 40%
Folates 388 μg 97%
Niacin 0.479 mg 3%
Pantothenic acid 0.732 mg 14.6%
Pyridoxine 0.318 mg 24%
Riboflavin 0.146 mg 11%
Thiamin 0.437 mg 36%
Vitamin-C 0 mg -
Sodium 16 mg 1%
Potassium 1795 mg 38%
Calcium 240 mg 24%
Iron 10.44 mg 130.5%
Magnesium 190 mg 47.5%
Manganese 1.796 mg 78%
Phosphorus 0.301 mg 43%
Selenium 12.8 μg 23%
Zinc 3.67 mg 33%

Selection and storage

In the US and Canada, dried, cooked, and canned cannellini beans in water or oil are available online and in supermarkets.

Fresh shelled beans are also available in the farmers' market in season.

For dry beans, look for cream-white, smooth beans in packets that are organically produced for extra freshness, flavor, and fluffy texture. For convenience, however, cooked beans can also work well in quick recipes.

Avoid those with split, surface cracks, or cuts as they do not stand well once cooked.

Store them in a cool, dark place, in an air-seal plastic/metallic bin away from high temperatures and humidity.

Preparation and serving methods

Cannellini is one of the most sought-after beans in North America and Europe for its wholesome nutritional properties. Cooked cannellini has a 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 the wide pan so that you can remove foam which removes much of the gas-forming anti-nutritional substances.

Here are some serving tips:

Sausage and cannellini beans
Sausage and cannellini beans. Photo courtesy: Ryan Godfrey

  • Cannellini beans appear so often in traditional Tuscan cuisine where they are employed in dips, soups, and stews mixed with other complementing herbs, spices, and vegetables.

  • Boiled Cannellini beans complement with chopped tomato, parsley, onion and seasoned with lemon juice, olive oil in delicious bean salads.

  • The beans are essential ingredient in tonno e fagioli-tuna and bean salad.

  • Prepare Italian-style pasta e fagioli using cannellini beans and a small variety of pasta such as elbow macaroni or ditalini.

  • Generally cannellini beans are used boiled in dishes mashed in dips and served with chunks of fresh or toasted bread.

Safety profile

Consumption of raw, and soaked cannellini beans is not advisable and harmful for health. It can cause phyto-hemagglutinin (lectin) toxin poisoning, a condition that may cause clumping of red blood cells in humans. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Cooking in a pressure cooker eliminates the toxins and makes them safe. (Medical disclaimer).

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Further Resources:

  1. USDA National Nutrient Database.

  2. The bean Institute.

  3. NHS - Beans and Pulses in your diet.

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