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Black Beans: Healthy and Versatile Legume

Updated on February 17, 2012
Black beans are a versatile legume used in many different cuisines.
Black beans are a versatile legume used in many different cuisines. | Source

Black beans are a great legume to have on hand in the pantry. They can be purchased dried in bulk, dried in conveniently sized one-pound bags, or canned in both regular and salt-free varieties.

Black beans are a small to medium-sized oval shaped bean with a shiny black skin and a light colored flesh. They are a bush-type bean plant, are best grown in well-amended soils and prefer warm weather. Black beans go by a variety of names. Popular varieties include Blackhawk, Midnight, Black Coco, and Black Turtle.

Black Bean Nutrition

Black beans are packed with nutrition. A one-cup portion of cooked black beans prepared without salt has 15 grams of Fiber, about 15 grams of Protein and over 3 mg of Iron. Black beans are also very high in Folate contributing over 60% Daily Recommended Value, or 256 mcg of Folate, per one-cup serving. Black beans are high in minerals such as Manganese, Magnesium and Potassium. Because of their nutrient profile, they are a heart-healthy food.

One serving of 1/2-cup cooked black beans is equivalent to 2 oz. of the Meat and Beans Group and a 1/2 cup of the Vegetable group as a 1/2 dried beans and peas, according to the Food Pyramid Guide from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Black Beans Used In Different Cuisines

Black beans have a creamy texture when mashed and have a unique, meaty flavor. The beans can be left whole in recipes, and when boiled whole will give a nice dark purple color to whatever they are cooked with. Black beans are used in many different cuisines, including Latin American, Mediterranean, and Asian cuisines due to the unique flavor profile. They are a natural complement to hot spices and seasonings.

Use black beans in soups, baked dishes or salad toppings for a quick shot of flavor or protein. When using canned black beans, use them straight from the can, or drain and rinse them before use. Black beans have a creamy, light-colored interior and when mashed or pureed, they add a dark blackish-purple color to a dark gray color to the dish.

Black bean paste and black bean sauce are actually made from soybeans, not actual black beans. This Chinese ingredient, popular in sauce making, is made from soybeans that have been fermented, and also goes by the name of douchi.

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