Like other legumes such as peanuts, lentils, and peas, black beans are also prized for their fibre and high protein content. They also contain several other key nutrients like vitamin A, calcium, iron, and manganese, high levels of flavonoids, particularly anthocyanin, which have antioxidant abilities. Omega-3 fatty acid, which is considered as a good form of cholesterol is also a constituent nutrient of black beans. They are also a great source of folic acid and of the rare compound molybdenum.
Read on to know more!
Black beans, also known as black turtle beans because of their hard, shell-like appearance, are shiny members of the common bean family. They are edible seeds of the plant popular in Latin American cuisines and are also common in cultures throughout South and Central America. Indians, on the other hand, have just recently begun inculcating it in their food habits.
Black beans are categorized as legumes and just like other legumes such as peanuts, lentils, and peas, black beans are also prized for their fibre and high protein content. They also contain several other key nutrients like vitamin A, calcium, iron, and manganese, high levels of flavonoids, particularly anthocyanin, which have antioxidant abilities. Omega-3 fatty acid, which is considered as a good form of cholesterol is also a constituent nutrient of black beans. They are also a great source of folic acid and of the rare compound molybdenum.
Black beans are broadly classified into the following two categories:
- The small beans (douchi, dowsi, dausi plus variations) are usually black soy beans that have been fermented with spices preserved in salt.
- The larger ones are popular in Latin American, Caribbean, Cajun and Creole cooking. Douchi is salty and slightly sweet/sour, while turtle beans have a meaty, floury texture with a touch of sweetness.
Black beans can be transformed from their original form and consumed without the nutrients being lost, except when they are made into soups or when ground up and exposed to high temperatures. One of the most popular ways to consume them is to soak them in water before cooking or eating them. Studies have shown that by soaking them in water, certain phytates and tannins are removed and the beans also retain beneficial resistant starch while losing some of the total carbohydrate content. When combined with brown rice, it becomes a complete vegetarian protein meal.
Selection– Dried beans should be selected and if canned, the ones with less sodium content should be bought. They should be clean, firm, not shivered and of uniform colour.
Storage– Store at room temperature in closed containers so as to protect it from moisture.
According to the National Nutrient Database one-half cup (86g) of cooked black beans contains approximately:
- Energy: 114 kilocalories
- Protein: 7.62 g
- Fat: 0.46 g
- Carbohydrate: 20.39 g
- Iron: 1.81 mg
- Magnesium: 60 mg
- Phosphorus: 120 mg
- Potassium: 305 mg
- Sodium: 1 mg
- Zinc: 0.96 mg
- Fibre: 7.5 g
- Sugars: 0.28 g
- Calcium: 23 mg
- Folate: 128 mg
- Vitamin K: 2.8 mg
- Thiamin: 0.21 mg
- Niacin: 0.434 mg.
They also consist of phytonutrients like kaempferol, saponins, anthocyanins and quercetin, which are antioxidants. Like other beans and legumes, black beans contain starch which is a form of complex carbohydrate. Starch acts as a “slow burn” energy store that is slowly digested by the body, avoiding a spike in blood sugar levels. They also contain omega-3 fatty acid, which is considered a good form of cholesterol. They are a great source of folic acid and have unusually high levels of the rare compound molybdenum, which is very difficult to find in any other food.
- Healthier bones– Black beans are high in protein, fibre, iron, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, manganese, calcium, and zinc- all of these contribute in building bone structure and maintaining bone strength. Calcium and phosphorus are key nutrients in building the bone structure, while iron and zinc are vital for maintaining the strength of bones and joints. Roughly 99% of the body’s calcium supply, 60%of its magnesium, and 80% of its phosphorus are stored in the bones. Therefore, it is really important to get abundant of these nutrients from the diet.
- Treat Sexual Dysfunction– Black beans are extremely high in a rarely found mineral, molybdenum, which is important for a number of reasons like it can break down and detoxify sulfites (acidic compounds found in wines, dried fruits, and some vegetables), which causes a headache and disorientation. The molybdenum found in black beans counteracts these effects, neutralizing the negative effects. Molybdenum also helps in cell energy production and development of nervous system. Moreover, molybdenum reduces impotency and erectile dysfunction in older men if regularly consumed, it also increases energy and interest in sexual activity in older men.
- Maintain blood pressure– Low sodium intake is necessary for keeping blood pressure at a normal level. Black beans are low in sodium and comprehend potassium, calcium, and magnesium, all of which decrease blood pressure naturally.
- Improve heart health-Adding black beans in the diet can wholly be justified by the high amount of fibre present in it. High concentrations of soluble fibre help to lower blood cholesterol level. Soluble fibre turns water into a gel during digestion, whereas insoluble fibre adds mass to food and helps it pass through the digestive system quicker. Low blood cholesterol reduces thickening of the artery walls, which reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes. They also have small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good forms of cholesterol and it balances the negative effects of omega-6 fatty acids, which are not a good form of cholesterol. They can improve blood flow, lower blood pressure, and put less oxidative stress on the cardiovascular system. The fibre, potassium, folate, vitamin B6, phytonutrient content of black beans, and its lack of cholesterol, all support a healthy heart. Vitamin B6 and folate prevent the formation of a compound known as homocysteine. When an excessive amount of homocysteine collects in the body, it damages blood vessels. The quercetin and saponins found in black beans also help in cardioprotection. Quercetin is a natural anti-inflammatory that appears to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and protect against the damage caused by low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
- Prevent cancer– Black beans reduce the risk of certain types of cancers as they have flavonoids (colour-producing phytonutrient pigments that function as antioxidants in the body to fight disease and free radicals) present in their seed coat. There are eight different types of flavonoids that are found in the seed coat out of which three are anthocyanins (great for preventing cancer). They can commendably prevent blood vessel growth to cancerous tumours, increasing the speed of apoptosis (cell death) within cancer cells and slowing the growth of cancerous cells. The anthocyanins and phytonutrients together enable black beans very efficient to fight against cancer. On the other hand selenium, a rarely found mineral present in black beans plays a vital role in decreasing tumour growth rate, helps in liver enzyme function and detoxifying some cancer-causing compounds. Saponins prevent cancer cells from multiplying and spreading in the body.
- Healthy digestion– As black beans contain a high amount fibre, they help to prevent constipation and treating digestive issues. Fibre helps food move through the digestive system, which allows it to eliminate waste in a healthy way. They also provide fuel for the healthy bacteria in the colon.
- Helps in weight loss– Dietary fibre is commonly recognized as an important factor in weight loss and weight management by functioning as a “bulking agent” in the digestive system. High fibre foods increase the sense of fullness after eating and reduce appetite, making an individual feel fuller for longer, thereby lowering overall calorie intake. Increase in consumption of black beans decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
- Oligosaccharides: Black beans consist of a complex sugar called oligosaccharides, and no natural enzyme is present in the body to break it down. Therefore, oligosaccharides ferment in the digestive system and produce methane, which is released from the body in unpleasant ways. However, soaking the beans in water or cooking reduces a number of oligosaccharides in the beans.
- Phytic Acid: It is present in seed coat to prevent nutritious contents from insects while growing in nature. It also protects seed from premature germination. If it is not removed from the bean before eating, it can bind to common minerals like calcium, magnesium, and copper, preventing them from being absorbed as nutrients in the body. These unabsorbed minerals can build up and cause different conditions, from small irritations like digestive irritability to more serious issues like hormonal disruption and impaired brain function. Again cooking can prevent this.
- Best black beans – https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/63113/best-black-beans/
- Rice with black beans – https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/17127/rice-with-black-beans/
- Quinoa and black beans – https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/49552/quinoa-and-black-beans/
- Cuban style black beans – https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/160240/cuban-style-black-beans/