Vegetarian Journal 2004 Issue 4

Nutrition Hotline

by Suzanne Havala Hobbs, DrPH, MS, RD

This issue’s Nutrition Hotline discusses the advantages of adding black beans to your diet and offers you some enjoyable recipe suggestions as well.

QUESTION: “Do you have any suggestions for cooking with black beans? I’ve heard they are good for my health. Are other beans equally beneficial?”

ANSWER: If you’re looking for something new to make for dinner—something different, delicious, healthful, and inexpensive—black beans are a very good choice.

Researchers in the U.S. and Canada reported last year that dried beans—especially darkly-pigmented varieties—are a rich source of antioxidants commonly associated with other deeply colored fruits and vegetables. The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and by the Michigan Bean Commission, found that black beans in particular have high concentrations of flavonoids, a type of antioxidant associated with reduced rates of coronary artery disease, cancer, and aging.

Other beans, including red, brown, yellow, and white beans, are also good sources of flavonoids. But black beans top the list with more than 10 times the antioxidant level per serving available from oranges and about the same amount found in grapes, apples, and cranberries.

Dry beans were used in the study. Cooking (or canning) will cause some nutrients to be lost in the water, but the overall flavonoid content of cooked black beans is still high.

And black beans have other attributes going for them, too. They’re high in protein, dietary fiber, folate, iron, and calcium. They have no cholesterol and nearly zero saturated fat. They’re also versatile. And they taste great.

If you’re looking for recipes, try ethnic cookbooks. Black beans are used all over the world. Some good examples:

You can prepare black beans the old-fashioned way by soaking, then cooking them. However, it’s quicker to use canned beans. You’ll trade some nutrients for convenience and add some salt as well. But if the convenience of canned beans makes you more likely to use them regularly, by all means do it.

And while you’re at it, you may want to make more than you need for one meal. Leftover black beans make great lunches for school or work.

Excerpts from the 2004 Issue 4:
Cookies, Cookies, Cookies
Peggy Rynk helps to sweeten up your holidays.
2004 VRG Essay Contest Winner
Learn what made one winner go vegetarian in this first installment.
An Update on the Ornish Program
Studies provide evidence that it reverses heart disease, but Ben A. Shaberman finds out if insurance companies and hospitals are getting with the program.
Healthy Asian Cuisine
Nancy Berkoff, RD, introduces the steps and ingredients necessary to make great dishes at home.
Nutrition Hotline
How can eating more black beans benefit your health?
Note from the Coordinators
Notes from the Scientific Department
Scientific Update
Veggie Bits
Vegan Cooking Tips
Leftover "Meat" Creations, by Chef Nancy Berkoff
Book Reviews

The Vegetarian Journal published here is not the complete issue, but these are excerpts from the published magazine. Anyone who wishes to see everything should subscribe to the magazine.

Thanks to volunteer Stephanie Schueler for converting this article to HTML.

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Last Updated
Dec. 19, 2004

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