|BEAN OF THE MONTH: Black Beans|
Black beans stand out among the bean bins at the Co-op due to their rich dark color. These beans are also referred to as the black turtle bean since they have a hard outer shell and a sheen much like a turtle! They are another of my favorite beans for their robust flavor and dense meaty texture. These beans hold their shape better than other beans, no matter how long they are cooked! Their jet-black appearance may seem simple but they sure contain a wealth of nutrients for your body. Black beans are the most widely used bean in South and Central America.
We often think the more varied and brighter the color a food is, the more plant compounds it has to offer. But scientists have found many different compounds in these dark black beans as well, so don’t let their deep color trick you into thinking they are low on the phyto (plant) chemical spectrum! They are an excellent source of three specific plant compounds in the anthocyanin family: delphinidin, petunidin, and malvidin. These three are found just on the outside surface of the bean but there are many more benefits inside too. Some researchers have stated that black beans provide more antioxidants than any other dried bean. Black beans are not only chock-full of plant compounds but they contain plenty of nutrients too. They are a good source of protein, folate or folic acid, copper, manganese, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and even provide some omega-3 fats as well. They contain a whopping amount of fiber too, which is not only good for preventing heart disease and colon cancer but helps with digestion and elimination.
Black beans have been shown to help prevent chronic health problems that many in this country face. They are beneficial for supporting a healthy heart as well as good blood sugar levels. As I mentioned earlier, black beans provide a significant source of a variety of phytonutrients. These help support blood vessel health from overly reactive oxygen-containing molecules, thus supporting a strong cardiovascular system and making it less prone to disease. Black beans are also an excellent source of folic acid (containing two thirds of the daily value or DV), which has been shown to be a crucial nutrient in preventing heart disease! Small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium also play a protective role.
In regard to blood sugar levels, the preventive components of this wonderful bean that play a role are its hefty fiber content and the presence of naturally occurring compounds that slow down the release of sugars after the consumption of starchy foods. These compounds, along with the protein in the beans plus the fiber, all collaborate to help stabilize blood sugars. What miraculous qualities these little black jewels have, all packaged together in this small bean!
Another amazing bit of evidence has been uncovered recently: black beans are also a great asset to the digestive system. Black beans have a higher amount of indigestible substances than some other commonly used beans. These substances have been shown to be the perfect combination of natural materials that permit bacteria in the intestine to produce a specific type of acid that keeps the lower intestine performing properly. This function in turn is associated with supporting colon health.
So here we are with another bean to add to your list to use from the Bulk department! I guarantee more research will come out about black beans and their unique benefits, but in the meantime, add them to your dietary repertoire!!
As I mentioned earlier, black beans have great flavor. They are also easy to prepare and can be served on their own with rice and a simple seasoning of cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper, as is done in many South and Central American countries. They are also delicious in soups, stews, and casseroles with tortillas. If you haven’t already, try them as an alternate to the usual pinto bean. A large batch can be made at one time using dried beans if you have time, otherwise use canned beans. Beans can be frozen for 3 months for later use, so that is a time-saving measure.