*Black beans have a black outer husk or skin and an inner white flesh.
*As the outer husk is black, shiny and resembles the shell of a turtle, they are also called black turtle beans.
*These are mostly available as mature dried beans, which need to be soaked overnight in water before using.
*Pre-soaking the beans before consuming helps in removing the indigestible and flatulence-causing carbohydrates (raffinose containing oligosaccharides, to be more specific) from the beans. Pre-soaking also makes them soft and reduces the cooking time (if cooking). Canned black beans are also available.
*While the outer husk has a soft chewy texture, the inside flesh has a soft meaty texture and has a slightly mushroom-like flavor.
*It is widely used in Latin American cuisine like black turtle bean soup, burritos, etc.
*Black beans have high amounts of another naturally occurring plant substance called purines. These do not generally cause any health problems in normal individuals. But in individuals prone to purine-related problems, consumption of high amounts of purine-containing foods results in the accumulation of uric acid and can cause gout or kidney stones. So, these people need to be more cautious about not consuming too much of these beans.
*Buying and storage: Select healthy-looking beans (not shriveled) that are completely dry without any moisture, holes or damage caused by insects. Store them in an airtight container in a cool, dark, and dark place, away from direct light and heat. They keep well for up to 12 months.
Is it raw?
Yes and No.
*Yes, dried beans are generally raw, unless otherwise stated.
*No, canned beans are not raw.
Make sure you read the label.
1. These are very good source of protein, carbohydrates and dietary fiber and very low in fats.
2. Protein: Very good source of high quality protein. Black beans provide all the 8 essential amino acids. In fact, 1 cup of uncooked beans provides about 85% of the daily requirement of protein.
3. Dietary fiber: Very good source of dietary fiber. Contrary to the popular notion, beans have more fiber than most fruits and vegetables. It is a good source of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber.
4. Regulates blood glucose absorption: Soluble fiber absorbs water in the intestines and forms a gel like substance that slows down the metabolism of carbohydrates. And so, the carbohydrates are broken down slowly and absorbed slowly from the intestines, thus they regulate the blood sugar levels and prevent a sudden spike in blood sugar levels after meals. This is especially good for diabetics, those with insulin resistance, etc.
5. Lowers blood cholesterol: The dietary fiber binds to the bile acids in the intestines. Bile acids are needed for the synthesis of cholesterol in our body. As the dietary fiber is not absorbed, it takes the bile acids along with it when excreted resulting in less amount of bile acids available for the synthesis of cholesterol. Thus dietary fiber lowers the blood cholesterol levels.
6. Folic acid: Folic acid prevents the accumulation of homocysteine, an intermediary metabolite of protein metabolism, which promotes atherosclerosis by reducing the integrity of blood vessel walls and by interfering with the formation of collagen. Elevated levels of homocysteine in the blood are associated with heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.
7. Magnesium: Good source of magnesium. It helps in relieving fatigue, relaxing the muscles, nerves and blood vessels, thus relieving the symptoms of asthma, migraine headaches, tension and soreness in muscles etc. Magnesium does the above functions by acting as a calcium channel blocker. It reduces the contractions in the blood vessels and nerves, relaxes them and facilitates the improved flow of blood, nutrients and respiratory gases to all the parts of the body.
8. Good for heart: The collective effect of black beans in lowering the cholesterol and homocysteine in blood and relaxing the blood vessels and nerves is very good for the heart.
9. Iron: Iron helps in respiration at the cellular level by synthesizing haemoglobin that helps to carry oxygen to cells.
10. Manganese: Good source of manganese. It functions as a cofactor in various metabolic reactions involved in the efficient production of energy and enhancing the activity of antioxidant enzymes.
11. Copper: Good source of copper. It reduces the risk of inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, and enhances the activity of enzymes that are needed to maintain the elasticity of blood vessels, ligaments and joints.
12. Molybdenum: Good source of molybdenum, it helps in the detoxification of sulfites from the blood.
13. Antioxidants: These beans have high amounts of natural antioxidants called anthocyanins. These are the plant compounds that have beneficial health effects. Research shows that the darker the color of the skin the higher the antioxidants. So amongst all the beans, black beans have the highest amount of antioxidants.
14. Promote health: Black beans are a good source of various nutrients involved in the detoxification process. Thus they reduce the risk of various inflammatory, degenerative and cardiovascular diseases, and promote optimal health.