Black beans, commonly referred to as turtle beans, are scientifically called Phaselous vulgaris. Black bean is the common name for Castanospermum australe and the vegetable is also known as the Moreton Bay Chestnut. It comes in shiny, dark and shell-like appearance. The beans have rich smoky flavors, for which they are even compared to mushrooms. Black beans, along with navy, kidney and pinto beans, belong to the group commonly called as “common beans”. This is because all of them have been derived from a common bean ancestor, which originated in Peru. It was from Peru that the beans found their way throughout South and Central America. Spanish explorers brought black beans into Europe in the 15th century, during their return from voyages to the New World. Subsequently, black beans took strong foothold in Africa and Asia. They form an integral part of food of Mexico, Brazil, Cuba, Guatemala and the Dominician Republic. Today countries like India, China, Brazil, Indonesia and United States are the leading producers of dried black beans. In this article, we will help you explore the benefits of black beans.
Health Benefits Of Eating Black Beans
- Black beans are rich in fiber, which helps in lowering cholesterol. The soluble fiber content also helps in preventing the rapid rise of blood sugar level after the meal. In other words, the beans provide steady energy, while balancing the blood sugar level. Due to this health aspect, they make an excellent food for people suffering from diabetes, insulin resistance and hypoglycemia.
- Black beans are rich in the trace mineral molybdenum, which forms a principal part of the enzyme sulfite oxidase. This helps in detoxifying sulfites, the preservatives commonly used in prepared foods like salads. If sulfites are consumed in excess by people sensitive to them, they may experience rapid heartbeat, headache or disorientation. In such cases, black beans prove highly helpful, as just a cup of it contains around 172.0% of the daily value of molybdenum.
- Combination of black beans and brown rice is rich in fat-free, high quality protein. The protein content in black beans is comparable to that of meat or dairy foods.
- The dietary fibers present in black beans make it a healthy food for the people suffering from irregular glucose metabolism, diabetes and hypoglycemia.
- Black beans contain insoluble fiber, which prevents constipation and also increases the stool bulk. Several digestive disorders, like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis, can also be cured by the insoluble fiber present in black beans.
- Black beans contain the antioxidant anthocyanins, which are richly found in only some other fruits, like grapes, cranberries and oranges.
- The beans can help you fight against cancer. They can also help in fighting against the effects of ageing.
- Black beans play a great role in bringing down the death rate caused by coronary heart disease. It is not just the fiber, but also the folate and magnesium present in these beans that makes them heart-benefit food. Folate helps in keeping down the level of amino acid called homocysteine, which is an intermediate product in the methylation cycle. Magnesium helps in reducing resistance and improves blood, oxygen and nutrients flow in the veins and arteries.
- The beans contain polyphenols, which proves beneficial for those with complains of elevated cholesterol. Polyphenols act as antioxidants in the bloodstream, preventing the free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol.
- Black beans can provide ample iron to the body. This is wanted especially in case of menstruating women, who are at the risk of iron deficiency. Unlike red meat, which is another a good source of iron, black beans are low in calories and fat-free. Due to their rich iron content, they are also very good for pregnant women, growing children and adolescents.
- The manganese element present in black beans help in energy production and also acts as an antioxidant defense.
- Black beans contain purines that, if taken excessively, can cause health related problems for people sensitive to the latter. Purines can be broken down to form uric acid, which if accumulated excessively, leads to gout and formation of kidney stones. However, research has found that purines from meat and fish are more dangerous than those in black beans.
- Black beans contain polyphenols, which have certain negative aspects. For instance, the polyphenols tannin can bind some of the protein and iron supplied by the beans. This prevents the absorption of these nutrients by the body. However, this effect is minimized if one takes a varied diet, getting protein and iron from varied sources.
- Spread the black beans on a plate and remove the stones and debris, if any. Throw away the damaged beans also. Wash and rinse the beans thoroughly in a strainer allowing the cold water to run over them.
- Beans need to be soaked in water for some hours before cooking. Soaking shortens the cooking time and also makes them easy to digest. Presoaking also helps prevent flatulence by reducing the raffinose-type oligosaccharides, sugars.
- You can soak the beans in two ways. One of them is to cook the beans for two minutes in ample water and then allow them to stand for two hours. The other method is to soak the beans in cold water for eight hours or even overnight and keep in the refrigerator, to prevent them from fermenting.
- Before cooking black beans, make sure that you drain off the water and clean the beans once again under cold running water.
- You can cook the beans either in a pan or in a pressure cooker, though the later will cook the beans faster. Foam may be produced during the boiling, which you can skim off during the simmering process.
- Whatever way you choose to cook beans, remember not to add any salty or acidic seasonings before they are cooked. If you add them before cooking, the beans will become tough and will need longer cooking time.
- If you are in a hurry, go for canned beans, which are as nutritious as the fresh ones. You can wash off the unnecessary additions on the canned beans before eating them. Just heat the beans for a short time, before consuming them.