Black beans have numerous health benefits. They are an excellent addition to practically any diet. Asides from being excellent sources of minerals, B vitamins, fibre, and protein, they are also one of the most anti-oxidant foods around, with an Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) score of 4,181. The effect of this is that they have been shown to help prevent many types of cancer, including colon cancer, and are used as an effective home remedy for gout by many thousands of people. With their deep, rich flavour, they also function well as meat substitutes, allowing you to eat less meat more easily. The health benefits of this in particular are numerous, as I’ll explain more in depth in a moment.
The Simple Stuff
But first, let me talk about black beans nutrition: the vitamins, minerals, fibre, and protein.
Black beans are one of the most excellent sources of fibre around, containing 9g of the stuff per 100g. Beans in general are excellent sources of fibre, but black beans have more fibre than most. This may be why black beans have been linked to the prevention of colon cancers; fibre is an important nutrient in the prevention of this particular cancer.
It is also quite soft and gentle fibre, not “roughage” like carrots or cabbage. This means that it will be comfortable and easy to digest, even for sensitive stomachs and guts.
As for vitamins: black beans aren’t amazing sources of many vitamins, but do well on two B vitamins: folate and thiamin. A 200g serving of cooked black beans contains 32% of your RDA of thiamin and an amazing 74% RDA of folate. Because of this latter vitamin black beans are highly recommend for their health benefits for pregnant women.
Black beans also have 9g of protein per 100g (18g protein per serving). This is less than many other beans, but still, that’s 36% of your RDA per serving! Not at all bad.
Finally, the minerals. The minerals are where black beans shine. A serving contains 20% or more of your daily needs of six different minerals: Iron (24%), Phosphorus (28%), Copper (20%), Potassium (20%), Manganese (44%) and Magnesium (34%). It also contains a not insignificant amount of calcium (6%). Wow.
The iron content in particular reinforces its power as a meat substitute. It actually has two and a half times as much iron as beef!
Antioxidants In Black Beans
Black beans contain lots of antioxidants. As well as their ORAC score of 4,181, black beans have been shown to have up to 2.78 mg of anthocyanin antioxidants per gram of their seed coat. This is a lot; add on top of that the antioxidant properties of zinc and manganese and you have a nutritional powerhouse.
The antioxidant properties of black beans have been seen to heal the effects of gout and arthritis. Many people drink a broth made from black beans in order to reduce their symptoms. That said, the antioxidants from black beans are universally health promoting! Don’t throw away the cooking liquid for your black beans; add some salt and maybe onion and ginger, and you have a delicious, rich, almost coffee-like drink.
Black Beans As A Meat Substitute
Unlike meat, black beans contain fibre, but no saturated fat or cholesterol. Even if you don’t want to go vegetarian, eating black beans instead of meat once a week can provide numerous health benefits!
Firstly, you can use the cooking liquid from black beans as a rich substitute for meat stock.
Secondly, black beans work well in any recipe calling for ground beef.
Thirdly, they make great black bean burgers.
Fourth, you can have them in burritos.
Black beans work well in place of meat in many, many recipes. Their rich flavour and dark colour do the trick well. Think about all the health benefits you can get by increasing fibre and reducing all that cholesterol and fat! Vegetarians and vegans have been shown to be at much lower risk of many diseases, so you can surely get many health benefits by replacing a few meat meals a week with black beans or other meat substitutes.