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Pinto beans Nutrition facts

Pinto beans are oval, speckle-surfaced dry beans in the Fabaceae family of legumes. Pintos are very popular among the dry beans consumed in the southern parts of the US, where a large Mexican population is present.

Binomially, pinto beans belong to the common bean (Fabaceae) family, in the genus: Vicia. Scientific name: Phaseolus vulgaris.

Synonyms: Feijao carioca (Potuguese) and frijoles pintos (Spanish).

pinto beans
Pinto beans.

Pinto bean is an annual dicotyledonous woody shrub. It requires well-drained, fertile-rich, sandy soil to flourish. White flowers appear after about 60 days after seedling which develop into long, cylindrical pods consisting of 4-8 medium-sized, oval, slightly flattened, salmon-pink colored seeds with scattered, russet speckles on the surface.

Their mottled appearance is lost during cooking, and boiled beans acquire subtle flavor and a creamy texture.

Health benefits of Pinto beans

  1. Pinto beans are one of the finest alternative vegetarian protein sources. 100 grams of pinto beans carry 347 calories, and 21.47 g or 38% of recommended daily values of protein.

  2. The beans are moderate sources of antioxidant isoflavones. Total isoflavones are 0.18 mg per 100 grams of beans; daidzein and genistein at levels 0.01 mg and 0.17 mg respectively. Isoflavones have been found to reduce post-menopausal cancers and osteoporosis.

  3. Pinto beans are minor sources of O-methylated isoflavone compound, Biochanin-A (0.28 mg per 100 g). Biochanin-A is a plant estrogen. Studies suggest that it plays a definitive role in anti-cancer diet programs.

  4. Like other legumes, frijoles pintos also contain adequate 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 shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels by decreasing the reabsorption of cholesterol-binding bile acids in the colon.

  6. Frijoles pintos are gluten-free protein sources and for the same reason, they preferred gluten-free food alternatives in gluten-allergy and celiac disease patients.

  7. Pinto beans are one of the finest 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. Pinto beans hold amazingly high amounts of folates; 525 μg or 94% 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. Pinto beans contain very good amounts of minerals. 100 g of dry beans hold copper-99%, iron-63%, manganese-50%, phosphorus-58%, selenium-51%, calcium-13%, and zinc-21%.

  10. 100 g of pintos hold 1393 mg or 30% potassium. Potassium electrolyte is present in the cells and body fluids, which help counter pressing effects of sodium on heart and blood pressure.

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

Pinto beans nutrition (Phaseolus vulgaris), Raw, mature seeds, value per 100 g. (Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percent of RDA
Energy 347 Kcal 17%
Carbohydrates 62.55 g 48%
Protein 21.47 g 38%
Total Fat 1.23 g 6%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 15.5 g 41%
Folates 525 μg 131%
Niacin 1.174 mg 7%
Pantothenic acid 0.785 mg 16%
Pyridoxine 0.474 mg 36%
Riboflavin 0.212 mg 16%
Thiamin 0.713 mg 59%
Vitamin-C 6.3 mg 10.5%
Sodium 12 mg <1%
Potassium 1393 mg 30%
Calcium 113 mg 11%
Copper 0.893 μg 99%
Iron 5.07 mg 63%
Magnesium 176 mg 44%
Manganese 1.148 mg 50%
Phosphorus 411 mg 58%
Selenium 27.9 μg 51%
Zinc 2.28 mg 21%
Biochanin-A 0.28 mg
Genistein 0.17 mg
Daidzein 0.01 mg
Kaempferol 2.4 mg

Selection and storage

Dry pinto beans are very popular in the North and South Americas. One can buy dry beans in air-seal packets for extended use or canned beans for immediate to short-term use from supermarkets.

Dry beans can keep well for several months. Store in cool dry places, away from direct sunlight, humidity, and excessive moisture.

Fresh, immature beans can also be stored and used in a way similar to green beans.

Preparation and serving methods

Pinto beans are one of the most desired dry beans in the US, Mexico, and Brazil.

Cooking often requires soaking in cold water for 5-8 hours. Pinto takes 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.

Here are some serving tips:

  • Pinto beans most often feature in the Southern state's cuisine, especially the Tex-Mex dishes.

  • Refried bean paste is a classic Mexican refried pinto bean dip, served in burritos and tortillas.

  • The beans also used in baked bean recipes, in a way similar to navy beans.

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

  • In Brazil, the pinto (Feijao carioca) beans are commonly cooked with meat sausages and vegetables, and eaten with rice.

  • Classic Spanish and French cassoulet (casserole) recipe employs pinto beans with bacon and chicken.

  • Frijoles Charros is a traditional Mexican pinto Beans with bacon and chili peppers recipe.

  • In India, the beans can be substituted for red kidney and cranberry beans in the rajma-chawal (bean-rice) recipe.

Safety profile

Pinto beans should be consumed only after thorough cooking. Like other dry kidney beans, consumption of un-boiled/undercooked pinto beans 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.

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