Black Beans, scientifically called Phaselous vulgaris are small roughly ovoid legumes with shiny smoky shell . They are popularly called as turtle beans. Black Beans are dicotyledonous and falls into the Leguminosae family . It comes from a herbaceous annual plant grown readily in warmer parts of the world . The leaf of the plant is also consumed as vegetable primarily by Native Americans. Due to the high content of nutrients like fiber, folate, protein, iron, potassium, vitamins B6, antioxidants, vitamins, molybdenum, thiamine, minerals and starch, black beans are highly recommended to be included in a vegetarian diet. Dry legumes can be bought either as whole (uncooked), or canned(pre-cooked). Due to their nutritious meaty texture, black beans are extensively used in many Mexican , American and Cuban vegetarian dishes , such as soups, burritos, feijoada, gallo pinto, pabellón criollo and many more. Black Beans are the ubiquitous balanced food for the low income communities around the world.
Where did Black Beans originate from ?
Along with pinto and kidney beans, black beans also belong to the group of common beans and all originated from Peru. Later it traveled to South and Central America and brought to Europe in the 15th century by the Spanish explorers. Black Beans are an important food item in Bazil, Mexico and Cuba while China, India, Indonesia and USA are the leading countries that produce it.
What are the health benefits of Black Beans?
The fiber content in black beans helps to maintain a balance sugar level of our body. Thus patients suffering from diabetes must include black beans in their regular meals
Both the protein and fiber present in black beans move the food through the stomach to the large intestine smoothly maintaining an ideal balance of chemicals and microorganisms for a healthy digestive system.
The cholesterol level is also lowered due to the soluble fiber present in black beans and hence eating these legumes reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of black beans also protect us from cardiovascular diseases.
Half a cup of black beans contain 85 calories and thus being a fat-free food, eating them may reduce your body weight though the protein content helps to boost up your energy levels.
The presence of eight different highly antioxidant flavonoids, rich in phytochemicals help to lower the risk of cancer.
Folate or vitamin B6 content in black beans produce amino acids, necessary for the nervous system to function properly. Since the deficiency in folate can hamper the development of fetus’s brain and spinal cord, black beans are essential to be consumed by pregnant women.
Iron deficiency to pregnant women could be met by having black beans rich in iron content.
The mineral molybdenum helps to detoxify the sulfates present in foods like salads and wines while the deficiency of this mineral could make a man impotent. People who are sensitive to sulfates may consume black beans rich in molybdenum to avoid problems like rapid heart beet and headache.
Black Beans when combined with brown rice meet the protein requirement of your body and since it is fat-free it is an excellent alternative to meat and dairy products.
What are the side-effects of Black Beans?
Those who are allergic to purines, consumption of black beans may cause certain health problems like formation of kidney stones, gout etc. because these are rich in purines.
Polyphenols present in black beans can bind the protein and iron supplied by the beans and thus prevents to absorb these nutrients to the body. Thus it is better to take protein and iron from varied diets.
How to cook Black Beans?
Black Beans (raw variety) contain higher level of phytates, tannins, flatulence-causing compound raffinose and stachyose. Black Beans must be soaked overnight prior to cooking. This would help to get rid of the toxic elements in the black legumes. Black Beans take approximately one and one-half hours to get tenderly cooked. In a pressure cooker it takes only half an hour to prepare. Salty or acidic seasoning must be avoided during until the beans are cooked because adding them will make the beans tough and increase the cooking time.
Roasted snack with guacamole, tomatoes, onions and cilantro
Since black beans are very popular in Mexican dishes, don’t ever miss the chance of having black beans in a Mexican restaurant. Besides, enjoying the pleasant taste of the food, you will get all the valuable nutrients that your body needs to remain healthy.
What is the Indigestible Fraction (IF) in Black Beans ?
Recently, various studies conducted on black beans have shown that indigestible fraction(IF) in this legume is higher than the IF in regular lentils or chickpeas. The indigestible fraction(IF) helps to maintain digestive tract health by allowing positive bacteria in the colon to produce butyric acid. Hence black beans reduce the risk of colon cancer drastically.
For more information on other Beans and their nutrition, click on the links below: