What's New and Beneficial about Black Beans
- Recent research has shown that black beans provide special support for digestive tract health, and particularly our colon. The indigestible fraction (IF) in black beans has recently been shown to be larger than the IF in either lentils or chickpeas. It has been shown to be the perfect mix of substances for allowing bacteria in the colon to produce butyric acid. Cells lining the inside of the colon can use this butyric acid to fuel their many activities and keep the lower digestive tract functioning properly. By delivering a greater amount of IF to the colon, black beans are able to help support this lower part of our digestive tract. Lowered colon cancer risk that is associated with black bean intake in some research studies may be related to the outstanding IF content of this legume.
- The soaking of black beans in water has always found fairly widespread support in food science research as a way of improving overall black bean benefits. Yet, the discarding of the bean soaking water has been a topic of considerable controversy. A recent study that may help put this controversy to rest looked at many different advantages and disadvantages of tossing out the water used to soak beans. It found that the advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantages. On the advantage side of things, getting rid of the soaking water also means getting rid of some of the phytates and tannins that can lower nutrient availability. It also means reducing flatulence-related substances like raffinose (up to 33% removed along with the soaking water) and stachyose (up to 20% removed). A final advantage was the retention of resistant starch. While some of the total carbohydrate content in the black beans was lost along with the discarding of the soaking water, the amount of resistant starch remained unchanged. (Resistant starch is a type of carb that will typically make its way all the way down to the large intestine without being digested. Once it arrives in the large intestine, it can help support the growth of desirable bacteria in that area of the digestive tract.) On the disadvantage side of things was that 15% of total phenols were lost, we actually don't think that that is an amount that is of concern. There was a slight loss of some additional phytonutrients as well as minerals. When adding up all of their findings, the researchers concluded that the many advantages of discarding bean soaking water clearly outweighed the disadvantages and then made this recommendation a firm part of their research conclusions.
- We tend to think about brightly colored fruits and vegetables as our best source of phytonutrients, but recent research has recognized black beans as a strong contender in phytonutrient benefits. The seed coat of the black bean (the outermost part that we recognize as the bean's surface) is an outstanding source of three anthocyanin flavonoids: delphinidin, petunidin, and malvidin. These three anthocyanins are primarily responsible for the rich black color that we see on the bean surface. 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 triterpenoids.
- In Brazilâ"a country that, along with India, grows more black beans than any country in the worldâ"beans have been given an exclusive place on the Brazilian Food Pyramid. In other words, beans are recommended as their own unique food group! The country's 2006 Food Guide for the Brazilian Population recommends that beans be consumed at least once every day. That recommendation is actually quite close to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which establish 3 cups of cooked legumes per week, or 1/2 cup serving six days per week, as the minimum desired amount. Recent research linking bean intake to lower risk of type 2 diabetes, many types of cardiovascular disease, and several types of cancer was one of the key factors used by the Brazilian government and the U.S. government in establishing their bean intake recommendations.