Health Benefits of Black Beans

Black Beans Nutrition Facts

Black beans are a legume packed with protein and fiber. They can be enjoyed in many different ways as a tasty part of a healthy diet. While they are high in carbohydrates, these are in forms that are digested slowly.

Nutrition Facts

Black Beans Nutrition FactsServing Size 1/2 cup canned (130 g)Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories from Fat 3  
Total Fat0.35g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol0mg 0%
Sodium490mg 20%
Potassium 420mg 12%
Carbohydrates 20g  7%
Dietary Fiber 8.3g 16%
Sugars 0g  
Protein 7g  
Vitamin A 0% · Vitamin C 5%
Calcium 5% · Iron 13%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet


Black beans are high in carbohydrates, but this is balanced with the fiber content. A 1/2 cup serving has 20 grams of carbohydrate and 8 grams of fiber, with 12 grams of net carbs.

Black beans are an excellent source of fiber (both soluble and insoluble). Studies show that a fiber-rich diet can help maintain weight goals and aid in weight loss. It can also reduce the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

Black beans do not contain sugar. Instead, they have slowly-digested carbohydrates and resistant starch. This means that the carbohydrates in black beans are slowly converted to glucose, and some is not digested at all.

The glycemic index of a food is an indicator of how much a food may affect your blood glucose level. The glycemic index of black beans depends on how they are prepared. If you soak and boil black beans, the average glycemic index is 25, which is moderately low. If you cook them with a pressure cooker or use canned beans, the glycemic index ranges from 45 to 65, which is moderate.

The glycemic load takes into account both the glycemic index and the serving size. A serving of 1/2 cup cooked black beans has a glycemic load of 7, which is considered to be low.


Black beans have very little fat, and most of the fat is polyunsaturated. A 1/2 cup serving of black beans has 90 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids and 108 milligrams of omega-6 fatty acids.


Black beans are protein powerhouses, with 7 grams of protein in a 1/2 cup serving. You can enjoy black beans in many dishes to fulfill your daily protein needs.


Black beans are a very good source of folate. This is responsible for producing red blood cells and plays a role in preventing neural tube defects during pregnancy.

Additionally, black beans are a very good source of manganese, magnesium, and thiamin, and a good source of potassium and iron. If you're a vegetarian who relies on beans as a source of iron, it is good to know that eating foods with vitamin C, such as citrus fruit and tomatoes, helps increase iron absorption.

Health Benefits

Research has shown that replacing rapidly-digested carbohydrates (such as white rice) with legumes can improve glycemic control in people with diabetes. Consuming foods high in resistant starch may also improve digestive health, including the promotion of healthy gut flora. Resistant starch may even improve insulin sensitivity. Dried beans have more resistant starch than canned beans.

Black beans also contain some phytonutrients, mainly polyphenols in the coating. These may be beneficial as antioxidants.

Common Questions

Can you eat beans on a low-carb diet?

A low carbohydrate diet is a loose term for trying to reduce carbohydrate intake. Your total daily carbohydrate requirements will vary on a variety of things such as your activity level, gender, weight, and perhaps blood sugar control (if you have insulin resistance or diabetes).

If you are looking to reduce your carbohydrate intake you can still eat beans, but you try to remain mindful of portions. Keep in mind that a 1/2 cup serving of beans contains about 20 grams of carbohydrate. That means you probably want to keep your portion to about one serving.

Are dried beans better than canned beans?

Dried beans are inexpensive in comparison to canned beans and are easy to store in bulk. Dried beans have only 1 milligram of sodium in a 1/2 cup serving while canned beans can have as much as 490 milligrams. If you are watching your sodium intake but want to use canned beans, look for those lower in sodium. Canning also reduces the amount of resistant starch in black beans. The drawback is that dried beans take longer to prepare.

Can you reduce sodium by washing canned beans?

Research has found that simply draining and rinsing beans can reduce sodium significantly. Draining beans can reduce sodium up to 36 percent, whereas rinsing and draining can reduce sodium by 41 percent. Therefore, if 1/2 cup of beans contains about 490 milligrams of sodium, draining and rinsing the beans can reduce the sodium content to about 281 milligrams.

Why do you need to soak dried black beans?

Most dried beans need to be soaked in water before use. Soaking softens and rehydrates the beans, reducing cooking time. In addition, soaking helps remove some of the substances that can cause digestive issues, such as flatulence and gas. Discard the water before cooking.

Recipes and Preparation Tips

You can find uses for black beans in every meal of the day. Beans can be pureed and used as a spread or left whole in soups and chili. They can even be an addition to baked goods such as brownies and bread to add protein and fiber.

Use black beans as a side dish, as a sandwich or potato topper, or as a dip for vegetables. You can also add beans to salads, stews, and soups for additional iron, protein, and fiber. Have them for breakfast in these egg and black bean breakfast tacos or make a great side dish for shrimp with this recipe for sweet shrimp with citrus black bean salad. You could also try them in chili and make our turkey black bean chili or go vegetarian (and fight inflammation!) with these black bean and arugula tostadas.

Allergies and Interactions

Black bean allergies are not common but can be a concern for children who are allergic to peanuts, with about 5 percent also being allergic to beans. Black beans are closely related to the pinto bean, kidney bean, and green bean, so allergies to one may mean you are sensitive others.

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  • Anderson JW, et al. Health Benefits of Dietary Fiber.Nutrition Reviews. 2009;67(4):188-205. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00189.x.

  • Atkinson FS, Foster-Powell K, Brand-Miller JC. International Tables of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values: 2008. Diabetes Care. 2008;31(12):2281-2283. doi:10.2337/dc08-1239.​​

  • Bean Nutrition Overview. Northarvest Bean Growers Association.

  • Becerra-Tomas N, et al. Legume Consumption Is Inversely Associated With Type 2 Diabetes Incidence in Adults: A Prospective Assessment From the PREDIMED Study.Clinical Nutrition. 2019. pii: S0261-5614(17)30106-1. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2017.03.015.

  • Fernandes AC, Nishida W, da Costa Proença RP. Influence of Soaking on the Nutritional Quality of Common Beans (Phaseolus Vulgaris L.) Cooked With or Without the Soaking Water: A Review. International Journal of Food Science and Technology2010;45:2209–2218. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2621.2010.02395.x.

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