Black beans are a part of the popular legume family of plants. As many other types of beans, they originated from the Central and South America and have been used in Latin-American countries for hundreds of years. In the fifteenth century Spanish explorers brought black beans to Europe, where they became popular due to some of their special properties:
- They are easy to grow
- They have long-term storage life
- They have a rich flavor similar to that of mushrooms.
The most distinct feature of black beans is their shiny shell-like appearance. This is also why they are sometimes called turtle beans.
Health Benefits of Black Beans
The saying “the blacker the skin – the healthier the bean” turns out to be 100% true in relation to these beans. To a great extent, their healthful qualities are accounted for a rich content of flavonoids with strong antioxidant properties. These substances are responsible for the black color of the beans’ skin. Additionally, black beans are packed with minerals, protein, fiber, and certain vitamins. This makes them one of the healthiest foods in the world. This legume helps with prevention and treatment of a number of serious ailments, such as:
- Heart disease.
Numerous studies have shown that the consumption of black beans decreases the risk of coronary heart disease as well as stroke. This fact is explained by their high content of soluble fiber. This is the type of fiber that lowers the cholesterol levels. In addition, the skin of black turtle beans provides us with important flavonoids. Flavonoids are potent antioxidants, and, therefore, fight the heart disease, which is often caused by the blood and vessels suffering from oxidative stress or inflammation. Black beans also contain antioxidant minerals such as magnesium, manganese, and zinc. Magnesium is especially important in maintaining the health of the veins and arteries as well as reducing high blood pressure.
Inflammation, as well as chronic excessive oxidative stress, is among the most probable causes of many types of cancer. It’s clear that the more antioxidant and anti-inflammatory elements there are in your body, the smaller is the risk of cancer. There have been a few studies of anti-cancer properties of black beans that indicate the ability of to these beans stop the development of several types of this disease, colon cancer, in particular.
The combination of high amounts of protein and fiber in black turtle beans helps support proper blood sugar levels. Additionally, research indicates that black beans can inhibit the activity of alpha-amylase enzymes that are responsible for breaking down starch into sugar. Reducing the speed of this process results in the reduction of the sugar release from starches found in foods.
High content of minerals such as phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and molybdenum helps maintain strength and elasticity of bones as well as joints and prevent osteoporosis.
- Digestive disorders.
Studies have revealed the fact that black beans have the largest content of indigestible fracture among all the other beans and lentils. They contain the best mix of substances that are extremely beneficial for healthful bacteria in the colon.
Nutritional Value of Black Beans
- Calories – 40
- Vitamin B1 – 0.07mg (6% of RDA)
- Folate – 43mcg (11% of RDA)
- Copper – 0.06mg (7% of RDA)
- Magnesium – 20 mg (5% of RDA)
- Molybdenum – 20.2 mcg (48% of RDA)
- Phosphorus – 60mg (5.8% of RDA)
RDA – the required daily amount
How to Buy and Store Black Beans
Black beans are sold in dried or precooked – canned or frozen – forms. Dried beans are more cost effective. They are usually sold in pre-packaged containers or in bulk. When buying dried black beans, make sure they aren’t moist, damaged by insects, or cracked.
Dried beans should be stored in an airtight container. Keep them in a dark, cool, and dry place. Use them within one year. Cooked black beans will stay fresh for three days if they are kept in a covered container inside a fridge.
How to Soak Black Beans
Before washing the beans, remove debris, small stones, and damaged beans. Rinse them in cool running water. You can soak black beans in two different ways. Regardless of which you choose, start with placing the beans into a saucepan. Pour 2-3 cups of water for each cup of beans. Then choose which method you want to use:
- Boil the beans for two minutes. Take the saucepan from the heat and let them stay for two hours.
- Soak the beans in water for eight hours or overnight (but not more than for twelve hours). Place them in the fridge to prevent fermentation. Drain the water and rinse the beans before cooking.
It should be mentioned that soaking is necessary to clean the beans from certain chemical substances that can block important nutrients. Soaking increases mineral absorption and makes black beans easier to digest.
Fermented Black Beans
Fermented black beans are a condiment for cooking other dishes. They look like small, black raisins and are rather salty. To make fermented black beans, you should cook, drain, and mix them with salt, garlic, and spices. After this, dry them in the sun.
Note that fermented black beans are not meant to be used as a separate dish. As a flavoring, add them in small quantities, not more than one tablespoon for a meal. They might be sprinkled over food before cooking, used as a topping on vegetables or seafood, cooked in a sauce, or added to hot oil before frying to flavor the oil.
How to Cook Black Beans
You can cook black beans either on the stovetop or in a pressure cooker. Add water so that it’s about 1-2 inches above the beans. If you choose cooking on the stovetop, let them boil, then let them simmer for an hour and a half. Cooking the beans in the pressure cooker takes about half an hour. Don’t add any salty or acidic seasonings, because it’ll increase the preparation time.
Black beans are great as ingredients in soups, salads, and even cakes. Here are two out of a variety of vegetarian recipes with black beans.
15-Minute Black Beans Salad Recipe
- 2 medium cloves garlic (pressed)
- 2 cups black beans
- 1 cup corn (frozen)
- ½ cup minced onion
- 8 cherry tomatoes (quartered)
- ½ cup diced red bell pepper
- 2 TBS pumpkin seeds, chopped
- 2TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 3 TBS lemon juice (fresh)
- Salt, pepper to taste
Mince onion, press garlic, and let sit for 5 minutes. Mix all the ingredients. Enjoy!
Note, this salad will keep for two days. It will get more delicious if allowed to marinate in the fridge for a while.
Simple Black Beans Soup Recipe
- 1lb dried beans, presoaked, rinsed
- 1 large bell pepper, chopped
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- ½ ripe avocado, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 TBS ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground chipotle pepper
- 2 TBS nutritional yeast
- 1 TBS fresh lime juice
Bring ½ cup of water to a simmer in a large pot over medium heat. Add bell pepper, onions, and garlic. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in chipotle pepper and cumin. Cook for 1 minute. Add the drained black beans and 10 cups of water. Bring the soup to a boil, and then lower to a simmer. Cook for one and a half or two hours, until the beans are tender. Remove 4 cups of soup and puree them in a blender. Put the puree back to the pot and stir in the nutritional yeast and the lime juice. Spoon the soup into bowls and garnish with slices of avocado.