Nutrition and Labeling - Are beans healthy?

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10-30-2012, 09:49 PM
I just started eating canned black beans. Since I never really ate beans before, should I skip them? Are they beneficial with weight loss (high fiber/protein/low cal?) Or not worth it?


Thanks everyone :)

Arctic Mama
10-30-2012, 09:57 PM
For me? No. Too high in phytates, even soaked, and very carby. I'll eat them once in a blue moon, as I do love the flavor of black beans or roasted chickpeas, but as a regular component of my diet they're as inflammatory as grains. So I avoid both. Your mileage may vary, half a cup every day or two isn't going to be the end of the world.

Misti in Seattle
10-30-2012, 10:10 PM
LOL and I say YES!!! Beans are very healthy! They are low in fat, high in protein and nutrition. But in canned beans you have to be careful about the sodium content.

Sooooo I guess it really boils down to just doing research and making the decision for yourself as to whether they are something you want to include in your eating.

10-30-2012, 10:11 PM

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.

10-30-2012, 11:14 PM
Beans are a very healthy food, loaded with vitamins and other nutrients as well as fiber.

Arctic Mama
10-30-2012, 11:22 PM
I won't contest the nutrients. It's the antinutrients in beans folks should careful with. But again, this is an individual sensitivity issue. If you have food allergies or insulin considerations like me they're not a great choice. No particular sensitivities, conditions, or a plan that prohibits them? Then go for it. But I would do a little research into the phytates, lectins, etc. Proper soaking and fermenting solves this issue, and industrial gassing to a lesser extent, but it's still good to be knowledgable on the subject, just in case some symptoms pop up :)

10-31-2012, 11:18 AM
I don't eat them too regularly. Too much carb rush/tooting for my personal preference.

10-31-2012, 11:21 AM
I like beans quite a bit, use them a lot; canned and dry. I, personally, have never had issues with beans, but my husband does from time to time.

10-31-2012, 01:20 PM
I was concerned about carbs, and just added them recently. Arctic Mama & Krampus have me rethinking that a little.

One thing, though--I was trying to add more fiber, and noticed even fruits and veggies only provided a fraction of the RDA, whereas beans hit it out of the park.

10-31-2012, 01:25 PM
Our family doesn't eat meat, other than a little fish, so beans play a steady role in our cooking. I don't usually buy the canned beans because they 1) come from cans that have BPA in the lining, 2) have a higher sodium content, 3) have a texture that I don't like, and 4) are more expensive than dry beans.

It's really easy to cook up a batch of beans after soaking them overnight and freezing in freezer bags. I put them in soups, casseroles, chili, veggie patties, savory pies, pasta sauce, and other meals.

10-31-2012, 01:44 PM
Since I never really ate beans before, should I skip them? Are they beneficial with weight loss (high fiber/protein/low cal?) Or not worth it?

I'm not sure you're asking the right questions. Better questions to me would be:

Do you like them? Do they make you feel full or do they increase your appetite? How easy does your stomach tolerate them?

While I am not a Tim Ferris fan his dietary plan for weight loss revolves around eating meat, beans and vegtables every day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner always have meat, beans and vegtables.

10-31-2012, 02:08 PM
I've also read articles that say phytates serve purpose. I think it's one of those things that may vary by individual but also something we may hear the other side of years down the road. The healthfulness of the Mediterranean diet has a fair amount of research behind it.

I've had a high-sensitive CRP test (good inflammation test), and mine was literally off-the-charts low, despite a diet high in legumes and whole grains including wheat. And that was before I started soaking any of it. (I soak some, as a "just in case" thing.) So, while wheat (not the subject here, I realize) and legumes may be inflammatory for some, they don't appear to be for me.

So I agree that you should see how they work for you!

10-31-2012, 03:33 PM
It depends on the size of the room and how many people are in it when the, uh, after effects kick in. ;)

I don't know how healthy/unhealthy they are. I am trying to not cut any food out right now, just eat a small serving of them instead.

Arctic Mama
10-31-2012, 05:11 PM
I was concerned about carbs, and just added them recently. Arctic Mama & Krampus have me rethinking that a little.

One thing, though--I was trying to add more fiber, and noticed even fruits and veggies only provided a fraction of the RDA, whereas beans hit it out of the park.

Are you sure about that? I eat 3-6 cups of leafy/nutrient dense veggies a day and am FAR exceeding the daily recommendations for fiber, even on a no starch (no grains, beans, sugar, etc) diet. If all you're eating is corn and potatoes, that might be an issue, but cucumber, bell pepper, mushroom, salad greens, artichokes, celery, green beans, etc, all make it easy to get plenty of protein. Throw in some delicata squash or pumpkin, and your vitamin A and fiber is through the roof. Half a cup of broccoli or a piece of bread, which is going to give more nutritional AND fibrous bang for the buck?

If fiber I truly an issue, adding some flax or psyllium husk powder will do it. But beans are not as fibrous per calorie as many other alternatives :)

ETA - I thought about it and should clarify my position a bit. It's not the amount of fiber that is so important as the function of the body in relation to nutrients. Do most healthy people eating six cups of nutrient dense vegetables have health problems that require fiber supplementation? Insoluble fiber, in particular is not only overrated but newer studies indicate that it may actually damage the intestines and cause inflammation due to the injuries and scraping. If a diet is sufficient in fat and nutritious vegetable matter, is supplementing fiber or oat bran or a half cup of beans really doing much to improve health? Are the folks to whom the fiber RDA is aimed actually the ones eating whole, nutritious diets, or are they loaded up on refined, processed food and light on real nourishment?

If your diet is nutritionally sound, fiber supplementation in the form of grains OR beans is not really necessary for most. That doesn't mean it can't be consumed, but don't let the RDA for such a substance be your litmus. More important is to get the full spectrum of necessary, digestible vitamins and let the roughage take care of itself in the process. This is more sound dietary advice on the subject and what I should have indicated initially! I assumed it went without saying, but you know what they say about assumptions ;)

10-31-2012, 11:23 PM
The answer really depends on so many factors that no one can give you a definite yes/no answer without knowing the entire context of your diet.

A diet can be healthy, a food can't be, except in the context of the persons nutritional needs (where are the "gaps" in their current diet, and which foods can fill those gaps - or which health issues is the person dealing with and which food are helpful/harmful to those issues).

A BigMac or Whopper is going to be healthier for a starving person than for an overweight person.

For an overweight person a lean chicken salad is going to be a healthier choice.

Believe it or not, salt can be healthy or unhealthy for a very obese person with high blood pressure. I'm such a person. My blood sodium levels tend to run on the low side (lots of reasons for this including being raised in a family in which fast food and junk wasn't eaten very often, very little salt was added to the food, and virtually none at the table.... also my blood pressure medications tend to be potassium sparing, because most are because the SAD is so high in salt).

When my blood sodium levels get too low, my doctor will actually recommend that I add extra salt for a couple days (I've even had to have sodium supplements before a surgery once). My mother experiences this too and was actually hospitalized with water intoxication (essentially sodium depletion).

So most people would see us adding salt to our food and say "that's not healthy," well for us, it is - because we only add salt to our food when our doctors have told us to do it for a few days.

All foods are healthy or unhealthy only within the context of each person's individual health, diet, and needs.

I don't eat a lot of beans, because I'm insulin resistant and I limit all starches. I love beans and grains, but they don't work well in my body. I also have a wheat sensitivity (I've tested negatively for celiac disease). When I eat small amounts of wheat my skin especially on my face, hands, and feet swell and become red and itchy. When I eat I eat wheat or large amounts of other carby foods (even the ones most people consider healthy) I also have a reoccurence of the autoimmune issues that without the carbs remains in partial remission (there are some indications that the disease is still active, but no progressive organ damage has been detected. In fact there's some indication that the scar tissue on my lungs caused by the autoimmune issues is actually starting to heal).

My case is an extreme one, but really at the core, it's no different for ANYONE. What a healthy diet looks like for you, depends on way too many variables for random strangers to weigh in on whether you should or shouldn't be eating beans.

If beans are the highest fiber food that you're eating, you're probably not eating enough vegetables. There might be a reason why beans SHOULD be the highest fiber food you're eating, but I don't know that about you. Unless you have some kind of medical condition in which you've been adviced not to eat leafy veggies, I'd say those foods are a higher priority than beans.

And that's what a healthy diet really is about - priorities. For me, protein is the highest priority (which doesn't mean that most of my volume comes from protein, it doesn't). Veggies are priority 2. Then Fruits, then fats, and then fruits, grains...

I know which foods aggravate my health issues and beans (as well as soy) fall about half-way. I can include them in my diet in moderation, but moderation isn't huge amounts. Though beans are a higher priority than Milky Ways. A serving of quinoa or beans or a couple pieces of fruit aren't likely to aggravate my health issues noticeably (unless I start eating large quantities) in the same way that even one tiny cinnamon roll made with wheat will.

It's all "YMMV" (Your Mileage May Vary).

The only way to know which foods are healthy FOR YOU is to speak to your doctor and a dietitian about it - or if you're in very good health, experiment and keep a food/symptom/feeling journal, and write in it faithfully to see patterns. Which foods make you feel worse after eating them? Which foods help you feel better?

11-01-2012, 09:21 AM
All foods are healthy or unhealthy only within the context of each person's individual health, diet, and needs.

I wish more people understood this. It is SO important to learn your unique body. Standards that everyone seems to follow only go so far. One can be bombarded and light-headed from opinions after opinions, advice after advice. What applies to one may not apply to another. My favorite phrase is "Become a master of yourself".......who should know you better than you?

mountain walker
11-01-2012, 10:26 AM
They are 2 wise pieces of advice. If I learned anything in the last few months of addressing my food and eating issues it is that my body ain't going to respond like any body else's body!
Personally I love beans...find them filling and tasty. I don't eat them every day ( lucky for my family!!) and I do best with a mixture of carbs to protein of around 50/50. According to Jillian Michaels I should be on a 60/40 or even 70/30 protein to carbs ratio couldn't cope with that.....I tried.
Don't drink alchohol but love a good cup of coffee even though it's supposed to be bad for me.
Haven't a clue what phyatates are though.
This is just a it possible that for most of us it is easy to fall into the trap of overthinking all this stuff? If we limit our diets too much are we setting ourselves up for failure......?

Arctic Mama
11-01-2012, 01:07 PM
You don't want to overthink things, true, but food sensitivities and macro ratios can be the difference between chronic fatigue syndrome vs. energy, between having constant congestion vs. a clear nose and throat. It can end migraines, acne, mood swings, and give you control over your diet where previously the ravenous hunger and cravings controlled YOU.

That's what ironing out and eating according to my body's response to food did for me. Is it overthinking it? Maybe. But when the difference is regaining quality of life in multiple areas I'd say it is smart, not obsessive. Especially when all I had to do was ditch milk, grains, refined sugar, and some yeasts!

Know your own body and watch your reactions. Some folks it truly doesn't matter, they're not sensitive either metabolically or inflammatorily. But a surprising number of folks who struggle with their weight would do well to move to a very different diet than is often prescribed for them, with an eye on how they feel over the recommendations of any particular health group.

11-01-2012, 01:39 PM
This is just a it possible that for most of us it is easy to fall into the trap of overthinking all this stuff? If we limit our diets too much are we setting ourselves up for failure......?

Sorry for jacking the thread, and please don't think I am nit-picking, but I really wanted to address this, because I fear it's one of the reasons I have struggled so long with my weight.

The whole 'setting ourselves up for failure' thought that seems rampant on this Site sometimes makes me crazy. Even if it is a mistake to take this approach, mistakes DO NOT translate to failure. I ate Halloween candy for dinner last night instead of a healthy meal. It's not sustainable, but it's not failure either. Was It a mistake? Maybe. So far, seems like it was an okay occasional choice. Maybe it will start me down a dangerous path. And then I may have to do a course correction. If so, it would be a mistake and will give me more information about how to do better in the future. But it will not be failure. Even something as macro as overthinking can be recognized and adjusted. Again. Not. Failure.

11-01-2012, 11:09 PM
Black beans. Yummy. Lots o'fiber. Not a bad protein source on those weeks where I try a vegetarian diet. I love to mixed them in with a scrambled egg, salsa, and a bit of cheese. Filling and delicious:)

And not too terribly high in calories. Definitely on my "ok to eat" list, even though I don't eat them often.

11-02-2012, 12:18 AM
This is just a it possible that for most of us it is easy to fall into the trap of overthinking all this stuff? If we limit our diets too much are we setting ourselves up for failure......?

I too doubt that "overthinking" is a primary cause of failure.

Can it be a problem? Yeah, no doubt, but I think that "not thinking" and "not thinking things through" is the much more common problelm.

I know many of us who have discovered that we have problems with certain foods, did so only after suggering needlessly for decades because we never gave our diets much thought.

For most of my life, I was firmly entrenched in the "everything in moderation" and "a calorie is a calorie" club. I never thought to eliminate any food from my diet (except honey because it gave me a scratchy, sore throat and even then I didn't make the connection, my mother did, after I admitted that honey made my thoat scratchy after an allergic reaction to a bee sting when I was in grade school).

I was nearly 40 when I learned that a low-carb diet controlled the "rabid hunger" that I had experience my entire life. "Overthinking" was not my problem. Oversimplifying was.

And I think "oversimplification" is a much more common problem. As is believing the "common wisdom" without question.

There are many myths and traditions of weight loss that contribute more to the "setting oneself up for failure." We're not as individuals setting ourselves up for failure as much as our traditions and myths of our entire cultre is setting us up for failure.

We're taught that the appropriate response to a mistake is to binge. We're taught that by watching others do it, over and over again. Oh we TALK about it not being the appropriate response, but we see it done over and over again (a bit like the scene in Starman where the alien learns that "yellow light means go really, really fast through the intersection").

It isn't just children who "do what they see," so what we teach verbally about weight loss means far less than what we teach by example.

We've learned that a mistake on a Friday means "binge until Monday." and that a binge in late November means "binge until New Years."

It isn't ovethinking, rewriting and breaking the "rules" society has given us for weight loss that is the problem, it's following the unwritten rules that is killing many of us.

11-02-2012, 03:53 AM
I really like beans and think they're great.

Except since I started uncovering a whole bunch of food sensitivities that I hadn't been aware of previously.

So it's a question of how well your personal digestion handles them. If you get gassy after eating them, don't. Otherwise go for it :)

mountain walker
11-02-2012, 02:12 PM
I am sorry if I didn't express myself very well in my last post.
I have found red meat doesn't agree with me. I wouldn't call it an allergy or even an intolerance I don't think but eating it just doesn't FEEL right and seems to make my bowel sluggish. I struggle with articficial sweetener too.
And yet on previous diets ( many many many of them) I just didn't notice I was so focused on " less calories". I feel heaps better if I stick to fish.
I was talking personally in that if I tell myself " you can't eat this or that" the inner 5 year old says "But I WANT it!!!" By allowing my body to find it's own way I feel much more at peace with the whole thing. THAT'S what I meant by overthinking......listening to my head instead of my body and getting it wrong.
Hope this clarifies!

11-02-2012, 03:42 PM
I have been a huge fan of beans but Imight have a sensitivity to them. When I eat them weight hangs on too well. I am going to experiment with lentils instead of the larger ones. As far as gas, Ii thhink a healthy diet does that to me. Too much sulfer.:(

11-07-2012, 11:56 AM
This was such an interesting thread! I learn so much thanks to 3FC!
It made me curious, so looked up nutrition info, and made a little cheat sheet:

Food - (Calories per cup) % Carbs / Fat / Protein
Lentils (230) 70 / 3/ 27
Chickpeas (269) 68 / 13/ 19
Black beans (227) 74 / 3 / 23
Kidney beans (225) 73 / 3/ 24
Edamame (189) 33 / 36 / 31
Brown rice (216) 85 / 7 / 8
Quinoa (222) 71 / 14 / 15
Can of tuna (179) 0 / 6 / 94

11-14-2012, 06:10 PM
Thanks asking this questions I have been wondering about this topic myself. All of the different answers have helped as well. Thank you everyone!

11-15-2012, 01:56 PM
There may be many reasons not to eat beans. In their uncooked form, many legumes and beans are actually toxic to humans.

In their cooked form they still cause problems in part because of their high oxalate content:

Immediate symptoms of high oxalate consumption include burning mouth and throat during consumption, digestive upsets including sour stomach, stomach pains, diarrhea, blood in stools, constipation, bloating, gas in its various forms including burping, belching, flatulence, and flatus, breathing and asthma symptoms, skin eruptions and acne, arthritis flare ups, kidney stones and kidney problems, urinary pain and or problems, blood in urine, foul smelling urine, irritation of the genitalia, body odor, and slowed digestion which makes it difficult to eat enough calories during the day.

Long term symptoms and diseases related to high oxalate consumption include kidney stones and kidney disease, urinary problems, breathing and asthma problems, digestive system irritation and or IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), prevention of calcium absorption and assimilation with risk of osteopenia (bone softening), osteoporosis, and jaw, oral, and dental problems, iron deficiency anemia, and other systemic problems such as calcification of tissues and arteries also known as hardening of the arteries and or arteriosclerosis which can lead to heart problems and cerebrovascular accidents and strokes. Systemic circulation of calcium oxalate crystals can also cause them to be deposited in the visceral organs, bones, cartilage, and synovial fluid of joints resulting in pain, swelling, and arthritis.
Oxalate Health Impact

Beans are also a starchy food and can cause problems such as weight gain and or hypersinulinemia if eaten consistently by some individuals. Other problems they may promote are oral and dental, and acidic conditions in the body that promote low bone density and osteoporosis.

Starchy Foods vs Fruit n Lettuce

There are several other problems with beans, but this should be enough info to get you started.

11-15-2012, 05:11 PM
Beans are high in protein, and comparable to meat in terms of calories, They are also high in soluble fiber, which can help lower cholesterol, and rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Are they healthy? Yes, yes, yes. In moderation, of course.

If they irritate your digestive tract, you might want to avoid them. But over time one becomes used to them and there are both health and environmental benefits to eating less meat and more vegetables.

Please see:

Beans Protein Rich Superfoods (

Top 5 Beans for Your Heart Health (

LiveStrong (

The Mayo Clinic's Guide to Beans (


Eating Well (

Some RAW beans are toxic when RAW, but cooking them properly destroys the toxins. It is also not adviseable to eat CHICKEN or PORK raw and indeed you similarly have to make sure that they reach a certain internal temperature to be considered safe. Cook beans properly and they are NOT toxic. (Proper cooking means: bring to a boil for 10-15 minutes at least. If you cook them primarily in a slow cooker you have to BE SURE they get up to a boil.)

Similarly, yes - cooked beans contain Oxaltes. If you have kidney disorders, a history of kidney stones, gout, rheumatoid arthritis or some other conditions, you may need to follow a low-oxalate diet and avoid beans. It is not a problem for most people, though.

Just as most people do not need to follow a low-acid diet that might be recommended for someone with GERD or the low-fiber/low residue diet that might be recommended for certain people with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, or diverticulitis.