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The Latest News About Black Beans

Black beans could not be more succinctly and descriptively named. They are commonly referred to as turtle beans, probably in reference to their shiny, dark, shell-like appearance. With a rich flavor that has been compared to mushrooms, black beans have a velvety texture while holding their shape well during cooking.

Black beans are actually a variety of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) and belong to the popular legume family of plants. Black beans share many characteristics with their fellow bean family members, including red (kidney) beans, white (navy) beans, yellow beans, pinto (mottled) beans, pink beans, and anasazi beans.

What's New and Beneficial About Black Beans

WHFoods Recommendations

Many public health organizations—including the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, and the American Cancer Society—recommend legumes as a key food group for preventing disease and optimizing health. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends 3 cups of legumes per week (based on a daily intake of approximately 2,000 calories). Because 1 serving of legumes was defined as 1/2 cup (cooked), the Dietary Guidelines for Americans come very close to the recommendation of 1/2 cup of cooked legumes on a daily basis. Based on our own research review, we believe that 3 cups of legumes per week is a very reasonable goal for support of good health. However, we also believe that optimal health benefits from legumes may require consumption in greater amounts. These greater amounts are based on studies in which legumes have been consumed at least 4 days per week and in amounts falling into a 1-2 cup range per day. These studies suggest a higher optimal health benefit level than the 2005 Dietary Guidelines: instead of 3 cups of weekly legumes, 4-8 cups would become the goal range. Remember that any amount of legumes is going to make a helpful addition to your diet. And whatever weekly level of legumes you decide to target, we definitely recommend inclusion of black beans among your legume choices.

Health Benefits

Black Beans provide numerous health benefits including:

For more details on black beans' health benefits, see this section of our black beans write-up.

Nutritional Profile

The seed coat (outermost surface) of black beans is an outstanding source of three anthocyanin flavonoids: delphinidin, petunidin, and malvidin. Kaempferol and quercetin are additional flavonoids provided by this legume. Also contained in black beans are hydroxycinnamic acids including ferulic, sinapic, and chlorogenic acid, as well as numerous triterpenoid phytonutrients, Black beans also provide about 180 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per cup in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

Black beans emerged from our food ranking system as an excellent source of enzyme-supporting molybdenum. In addition, they are a very good source of heart-healthy dietary fiber and folate. In the case of folate, for example, a one-cup serving of black beans provided about two-thirds of the DV for folate.

Our food ranking system also qualified black beans as a good source of antioxidant-promoting manganese, muscle-building protein, energy-producing magnesium, thiamin (vitamin B1), phosphorus and iron. In the case of protein, for example, a one-cup serving of cooked black beans provided about one third of a day's protein requirement.

For more on this nutrient-rich legume, including references related to this Latest News, see our write-up on black beans.