Black Beans: A Nutritious and Versatile Legume
Black beans are a type of legume that originated in South America and are now widely consumed around the world. They have a black skin and a white center, and are sometimes called turtle beans, caviar criollo, or frijoles negros. Black beans are rich in protein, fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients that can benefit your health in various ways.
What are the health benefits of black beans?
Some of the health benefits of black beans include:
- Maintaining healthy bones. Black beans provide iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, and zinc, which are essential for bone health and strength.
- Lowering blood pressure. Black beans are low in sodium and high in potassium, which can help regulate blood pressure and prevent hypertension.
- Managing diabetes. Black beans have a low glycemic index and a high fiber content, which can help control blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity .
- Warding off heart disease. Black beans contain soluble fiber, folate, vitamin B6, and phytonutrients that can lower cholesterol, homocysteine, and inflammation levels, which are risk factors for heart disease .
- Fighting oxidative stress. Black beans are loaded with antioxidants, especially anthocyanins, which can scavenge free radicals and protect against oxidative damage to cells and tissues .
- Supporting digestion. Black beans provide insoluble fiber and resistant starch, which can feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut and promote bowel regularity .
How to prepare black beans?
Black beans can be purchased dried or canned. Dried black beans need to be soaked overnight or boiled for a few minutes before cooking to reduce their cooking time and improve their digestibility. Canned black beans are more convenient but may contain added salt or preservatives. You should rinse and drain them before using them in your recipes.
You can cook black beans in water or broth until they are tender, which may take from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the soaking method. You can also use a pressure cooker or a slow cooker to speed up the process. You can season black beans with salt, pepper, garlic, onion, cumin, oregano, cilantro, lime juice, or other spices and herbs of your choice.
Black beans are versatile and can be used in various dishes such as salads, soups, stews, chili, burritos, tacos, enchiladas, dips, burgers, brownies, and more. You can also make black bean flour by grinding dried black beans in a blender or food processor. Black bean flour can be used to make gluten-free breads, pancakes, muffins, cookies, and other baked goods.
What are some tips for eating more black beans?
If you want to include more black beans in your diet, here are some tips:
- Make them ahead. You can cook a large batch of black beans and store them in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. This way you can have them ready to use whenever you need them.
- Add them to your breakfast. You can add black beans to your scrambled eggs, omelets, frittatas, or breakfast burritos for a protein boost. You can also make black bean hummus and spread it on your toast or bagel.
- Snack on them. You can make roasted black bean snacks by tossing cooked black beans with some oil and spices and baking them in the oven until crispy. You can also make black bean dip by blending cooked black beans with some tahini, lemon juice, garlic,
and salt and serve it with fresh veggies or pita chips.