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Black beans: Tiny gems of health and beauty with antioxidant superpowers!

Black beans: Tiny gems of health and beauty with antioxidant superpowers!

Are beans healthy?  While some people may want to avoid eating black beans - such as people with legume allergies or certain medical conditions like irritable bowel syndrome - the health benefits of these legumes far outweigh any potential drawbacks for the vast majority of us. 

In fact, once you're aware of the impressive ways these tasty little morsels can impact your health, it might be hard not to include them in your weekly diet!

Black beans shown to promote heart health, support healthy weight, enhance skin quality, and more

Black beans are an excellent source of plant-based nutrients - including protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals like folate, copper, potassium, iron, selenium, and magnesium.  Just one cup of black beans contains about 64% of your recommended daily value (DV) of folate, 29% of your DV of magnesium, 20% of your DV for iron, 6% of your DV for vitamin B6, and 15 grams each of protein and fiber!  (Keep in mind, beans also contain a protein called lectin, which could have a toxic effect on humans.  Fortunately, soaking and boiling beans dramatically reduces the lectin content.) 

Their impressive nutrient profile isn't the only reason why people love black beans, either.  Beans are considered one of the most nutritious and cheapest food options out there, making them a great choice for people on a budget who still care about optimizing health.

And in the case of black beans, "optimizing health" truly isn't an exaggeration!  According to a 2021 review paper published in the journal Nutrients, including beans "as part of a plant-based dietary strategy imparts cardiovascular, metabolic, and colon protective effects; improves obesity, low-grade inflammation, and may play a role in immune-related disease risk management." 

There's more!  Black beans can improve the health of your skin and may offer anti-aging benefits due to their high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  In addition, eating black beans is thought to promote long-term health by:

  • Supporting a healthy gut microbiome
  • Promoting stable blood sugar levels and appetite
  • Promoting healthy weight loss and maintenance
  • Enhancing heart health

One new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Molecules even showed that a type of polysaccharide found in black beans, called α-1,6-glucan, could prevent the proliferation of cancer cells.

And as if those aren't good enough reasons to eat them, black beans are also filling and delicious in everything from soups and stews to salads and salsas!

How to prepare your own dry black beans

While canned black beans are definitely affordable, you can get even more bang for your buck by opting to buy dried black beans and preparing them yourself.  (In addition to saving money, this is also a good way to minimize the amount of canned food you eat if you're concerned about things like BPA or BPA alternative exposures from can linings). 

Ever wondered how to prepare your own dry black beans?  It's easier than you may think! 

  1. Sort and sift through your dry beans, being sure to remove things like stones and other debris. 
  2. Put your dry beans in a large bowl and cover with at least 4 inches of water. Aim for about four quarts of water per pound of beans plus two to three tablespoons of salt.  Cover the bowl and let it sit overnight in the fridge. 
  3. The next day, drain and rinse your beans, then add to a large pot covered with another 4 inches of water (unsalted veggie, chicken, or beef stock would work well here, too).  Add any flavors and aromatics you want, including herbs and spices. 
  4. Bring the pot of beans and liquid to a boil before you reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour, until the beans are fork tender.  Season and serve as a perfect side dish! 

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