Name for their close visual resemblance in color and shape to kidneys, kidney beans are widely consumed and produced across the globe, and like cannellini beans or adzuki beans, they’re a common addition to chili and other delicious meals. Low in fat and rich in complex carbohydrates, minerals, proteins and vitamins, kidney beans nutrition has been linked to reduced risk of various of cancers, heart disease and diabetes.
That’s not all when it comes to kidney beans nutrition either. Thanks to their fiber and abundance of nutrients, kidney beans also help with your waistline. Let’s find out all the amazing benefits of kidney beans nutrition.
Benefits of Kidney Beans Nutrition
1. Lowers Cholesterol and Reduces Heart Disease Risk
In the United States, one out of every three deaths is due to cardiovascular disease. Studies have shown that risk factor modifications can decrease the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases, including ischemic heart disease and strokes. Diet is an important modifiable risk factor for many types of cardiovascular diseases, and bean consumption, including kidney beans, has been shown to reduce risk factors for cardiovascular issues. (1)
In a meta-analysis of nine studies totaling 238 participants, bean consumption resulted in decreased LDL cholesterol levels without affecting HDL cholesterol. The high soluble content in kidney beans is thought to reduce LDL and increase the excretion of bile acid.
Additionally, colonic fermentation of soluble fiber produces short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate and propionate, which may help decrease hepatic cholesterol synthesis, thus decreasing circulating LDL cholesterol levels. Lastly, the consumption of beans, may decrease cardiovascular diseases as well as other diseases overall by reducing inflammation. There has been both clinical and epidemiologic studies showing that bean consumption reduces C-reactive protein concentrations. (2)
2. Controls Blood Sugar
Kidney bean pulses alone lowered insulin and fasting blood glucose in a meta-analysis of 41 clinical studies. Additionally, pulses in high-fiber diets lowered fasting blood glucose and glycosylated blood proteins, while pulses in low glycemic diets lowered glycosylated blood proteins, measured as hemoglobin A1C or fructosamine.
The bean properties, their high fiber content, low glycemic index, antioxidant effects and polyphenol content possibly contributed to the effects on glycemic control. These properties may have protected these subjects against the development of type 2 diabetes thanks in part to their ability to help maintain normal blood sugar. (3)
3. Combats Diabetes
When replacing other carbohydrate-rich foods, clinical trials consistently show that beans reduce postprandial glucose elevations in both diabetic and nondiabetic participants.
Kidney beans generally have a much lower glycemic index compared with other carbohydrate-rich foods, likely a result of their fiber and resistant starch content. The glycemic index of beans ranges from 29 to 38 compared with 50 for brown rice and 55 for rolled oats.
When participants with diabetes were instructed to increase their intake of legumes by at least one cup per day, glycated hemoglobin (Hb A1c) decreased by 0.5 percent compared with a decrease of 0.3 percent when supplemented with only wheat fiber. Changes in glycated hemoglobin concentrations as little as 1 percent are associated with as much as a 15 percent to 18 percent risk reduction of ischemic heart disease in people with diabetes. (4)
Not only does kidney beans nutrition help prevent heart disease in diabetics, but thanks to its low glycemic load and effects on blood sugar, kidney beans nutrition can also help prevent or manage type 2 diabetes itself. (5) This makes these wonderful beans a must in any diabetic diet plan.
4. Helps Treat and Prevent Certain Cancers
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in terms of incidence and mortality in women in the United States and the second leading cause in men. During 2017, it’s expected to cause about 50,260 deaths.
In human subjects, high intake of flavonols, which are of greater concentrations in beans, has been inversely related to advanced adenomatous polyps recurrence. The five most consumed type of dry beans in this study, in descending order, were baked beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, lima beans and navy beans. Compared with subjects with low intake of dry beans, participants with the highest bean consumption had a significantly high reduction in the recurrence of advanced adenomas by 65 percent. (6)
Further research published in the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules found that “white kidney bean lectin exerts anti-proliferative and apoptotic effects on cancer cells.” (7) In general, beans are strong cancer-fighting foods, and kidney beans nutrition has demonstrated defense against several forms of cancer.
5. Aids in Weight loss
Obesity has more than doubled since 1980 worldwide. In 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 and older, were overweight. Of these, over 600 million were obese, leading many to seek ways to treat obesity naturally. (8)
Diet and exercise are key when it comes to keeping excess weight under control. Because of their ability to prevent starch absorption and breakdown, alpha amylase inhibitors have been used for weight loss. Alpha-amylase inhibitors are present in beans and grains, including rice and wheat. (9)
The greatest body of research has gone into isolating and purifying alpha-amylase inhibitors from white kidney bean extracts. A double-blinded, placebo-controlled, randomized study of these kidney beans extracts included 60 slightly overweight participants (five to 15 kilograms overweight). It was required of the participants to maintain a stable weight for the past six months and undergo a two-week, single-blinded, run-in period before randomization. The participants took one tablet of the active extracts or placebo per day for 30 consecutive days before a meal rich in carbohydrates. The active tablet consisted of 445 milligrams of the extract and 0.5 milligrams of chromium picolinate.
After 30 days, the active group had a significant reduction in adipose tissue, BMI, body weight and fat mass. In addition, waist, hip and thigh circumference reduced while maintaining lean body mass. On average, the active group lost 6.45 pounds in 30 days as compared to an average of 0.35 pounds in the placebo group. (10)
Kidney Beans Nutrition Facts
Kidney beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), also known as “common beans,” come from a twining, annual plant, where each alternating leaf consist of three broad to rhombic ovate pointed leaflets. The flowers are purple, yellow or white in the form of axillary sparse clusters. The material of the kidney bean pods are curled, yellow-white and thin pieces that take up to 15 centimeters of the fruit wall.
The color of the beans depends on the variety. Red kidney beans have the dark red color, firm texture and glossy skin, making them the most common bean used in chilis, stews, soups and other dishes.
Kidney beans are very nutritious and a one-cup serving size of cooked kidney beans contains about: (11)
- 219 calories
- 39.7 grams carbohydrates
- 16.2 grams protein
- 0.2 gram fat
- 16.5 grams fiber
- 131 micrograms folate (33 percent DV)
- 5.3 milligrams iron (29 percent DV)
- 0.6 milligram manganese (28 percent DV)
- 0.5 milligram copper (26 percent DV)
- 243 milligrams phosphorus (24 percent DV)
- 742 milligrams potassium (21 percent DV)
- 85.0 milligrams magnesium (21 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligram thiamine (15 percent DV)
- 117 milligrams calcium (12 percent DV)
- 1.5 milligrams zinc (10 percent DV)
- 0.6 milligram vitamin B6 (9 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligram riboflavin (6 percent DV)
- 1.0 milligrams niacin (5 percent DV)
- 0.4 milligrams pantothenic acid (4 percent DV)
- 2.1 milligrams vitamin C (4 percent DV)
- 2.1 micrograms selenium (3 percent DV)
Kidney beans are considered to be a “whole food” due to their high content of starch, dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and phenolic acids, such as anthocyanins, flavonoids, flavonol glycosides, tannins and phenolic acids. These components have been correlated with the prevention and/or diminish of several types of diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.
The integrity of the gut barrier and the beneficial gut microbiota profile and activity improve greatly when non-resistant fiber from kidney beans are consumed. These bioactive compounds in kidney beans nutrition maybe beneficial in various of chronic inflammatory mucosal pathologies by exerting anti-inflammatory effects and support commensal bacterial growth in the gastrointestinal tract. Based upon their nutritious composition, kidney beans are a beneficial addition in various of diets in order to promote overall health. (12)
How to Use/Cook Kidney Beans and Kidney Bean Recipes
Soaking and sprouting kidney beans allows the dried beans to absorb water, which begins to dissolve the starches that cause intestinal discomfort. Kidney beans are best soaked for eight hours or overnight before cooking. When cooking, three parts water to one part beans for an hour to an hour and a half is best.
Red kidney beans are high in protein, but for more complete utilization they should be eaten with grains, nuts, seeds and dairy products. Bean soup with crackers and beans and rice are examples of complementary protein foods.
Canned kidney beans are almost nutritionally equal to home-cooked kidney beans but are usually more expensive and contain more sodium than home-cooked beans. The sodium content of canned beans can be reduced by draining the can, rinsing the beans or both. Draining the liquid can cut the sodium content by 36 percent, and rinsing the beans after draining the can reduces sodium content by 41 percent. A can of kidney beans should be drained in a colander for two minutes, rinsing the beans under cool, running water for 10 seconds. The beans are then drained for another 2 minutes. (13) Of course, I always recommend going with the fresh, organic variety over canned beans.
However, draining and rinsing canned beans may decrease the nutrient content of the food. It was found that certain water-soluble nutrients — vitamin C content, for example — was reduced by 10 percent when the beans were rinsed prior to eating. (14) If concerned about the nutrient loss, adding healthy foods, such as onions, celery, carrots, garlic and bell peppers, boosts the nutrient content of beans and are low in sodium.
There are several kidney beans recipes you can try. Diversify your palate and impress your friends by trying an African Dish. This recipe requires very few ingredients but has a large amount of benefits. Slow Cooker Bison Chili is the perfect dish for those chilly winter months. This recipe is nutrient-dense, last for days and is very delicious.
History and Interesting Facts on Kidney Beans Nutrition
Kidney beans, a member of the species Phaseolus vulgaris, have a long history in medicinal use and consumption worldwide. Referred to as the “common bean,” they’re believed to have originated in Peru. They have spread throughout Central and South America and were later introduced to Europe in the 16th century.
Subsequently, Portuguese and Spanish explorers introduced the beans into Africa and Asia. As a rare luxury at first, reaching only the table of those who can afford kidney beans, their cultivation expanded throughout Europe, becoming popular among many cultures across the globe. Kidney beans are popular additions to various cuisines due to their high protein content and delicacy, along with the presence of some antioxidants, minerals and polyphenols. Kidney beans are grown in the subtropical regions of the world and are a staple food source for animals and humans. (15)
As of today, China, Egypt, Kenya, Uganda, Argentina, India, Indonesia, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Myanmar, Morocco, Turkey, Tanzania, Spain, Thailand and the United States are the largest commercial producers of this very inexpensive form of high-quality protein. Kidney beans are consumed cooked in several dishes, including casseroles, macaroni and salads. Rajma-chawal is a simple yet nutritious meal consisting of kidney beans, rice and spices.
Kidney Beans Nutrition Precautions
Kidney beans must be cooked before eating them. Raw kidney beans contain a toxin, phytohaemagglutinin, that can cause liver damage. For this reason, it’s always best to soak kidney beans and discard the soaked liquid before cooking them. Cooking dried kidney beans in a slow cooker is discouraged, since the toxin remains in the beans and water as well. Within one to three hours of consumption of raw kidney beans, clinical symptoms like diarrhea, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and extreme stomach pain can occur and last for a few hours. Hospitalization is required in extreme cases.
Certain diets, such as the paleo diet, ketogenic diet, FODMAPs or certain blood types in the blood type diet (blood type A, AB, and O), discourage the consumption of kidney beans because they contain phytates or phytic acid, which are considered to be “antinutrients” that block the absorption of vitamins and minerals. (16, 17) Kidney beans contain lectins, a class of proteins thought to cause leaky gut in the shorter term and conditions like arthritis and poor vitamin and mineral absorption in the longer run. (18)
Final Thoughts on Kidney Beans Nutrition
- Kidney beans are a popularly produced and consumed bean across the globe and a staple in several traditional dishes from Africa and Latin America.
- Kidney beans nutrition is packed with dietary fiber, starch, antioxidants and phenolic acids.
- Kidney beans are an awesome source of iron, manganese, folate, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium.
- They’ve been shown to help the management of diabetes, prevent the body from absorbing excess carbs in order to help in weight loss, reduce recurrence of colon cancer and prevent cardiovascular disease.
- Raw kidney beans contain a toxin called phytohaemagglutinin and should be soaked and the remaining liquid discarded. This not only reduces the toxin, but brings out the optimal nutritional value and taste from the kidney beans.