Beyond Bean Burgers: The Health Benefits of Black Beans

Dr. Christopher McGowan
February 11, 2022

Packed into burritos and serving as the base for many a veggie burger, black beans are a staple of many diets across the globe. Helping with everything from weight loss to preventing heart disease and even giving you a little dose of dietary fiber along the way, these nutritious beans can do far more than anchor a vegetarian taco. 

Packed with nutrients and high in protein, black beans are one of the most important foods available, especially in areas of the world where meat is harder to come by. Black beans are common in many vegetarian diets, but the carnivores among us would do well to save space on our plates for these low-fat beans. To find out why black beans are an essential part of so many culinary traditions throughout the world, let’s find out a little more about these legumes.

Why are Black Beans a Superfood?

Related to peanuts, lentils, and peas, black beans are a part of the legume family. One of the healthiest additions you can make to your diet, black beans are especially good for individuals looking to remove meat from their diet. The mixture of protein, vitamins, amino acids, and minerals found in black beans can help replace what is dropped from your diet by cutting meat, all with fewer calories.

Cutting the calories isn’t the only benefit beans can provide. As a cheap, nutrient-dense food, black beans, sometimes known as turtle beans, are also good for helping your cardiovascular health. Research has shown that eating black beans can help to reduce blood sugar levels, and they can even help to manage your cholesterol. 

The nutrient-packed black bean is a great source of some major vitamins and minerals, as well as a few less common but crucially important ones. A short list of the nutrients packed into these small beans includes:

  • phosphorus
  • manganese
  • magnesium
  • folate
  • potassium
  • niacin
  • thiamin
  • riboflavin
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin K
  • copper
  • calcium
  • zinc

In addition to helping you get your daily value of several minerals, black beans are loaded with antioxidants. Protecting the body against the corrosive damage of free radicals, antioxidant-rich foods can help improve heart health, blood pressure, and even cholesterol levels as you age. 

One important nutrient beans provide is vitamin K. This vitamin is crucial for bone formation, as your body cannot properly process calcium without it. Additionally, vitamin K has a role to play in managing blood clotting behavior. 

The fiber content of most Americans’ diets is lower than most doctors would recommend. As a result, keeping an eye out for good sources of soluble fiber is essential in helping to maintain proper gut health. By promoting gut motility and helping to keep bowel movements regular, the high level of fiber in black beans is just another reason to consider putting them on your plate. 

Often overlooked in the nutrition facts about these legumes is that they are a low-glycemic index food. Though they do have carbohydrates, black beans are low in sugar, meaning they will not cause your blood sugar levels to spike after you eat them. This is particularly important for people with type 2 diabetes or other insulin resistance issues.  

Gluten-free diets are increasingly popular, and it should come as no surprise that black beans have an important role to play here, too. Though they do contain carbs, beans do not have gluten, which is linked to gastric distress for people with gluten sensitivities, autoimmune disorders, and Celiac disease. 

To top all this off, black beans are an important source of protein for millions of people across the world. Whether you have chosen a vegan or vegetarian diet, or if you are living in a corner of the world where meat can be hard to come by, cheap, high protein plant-based foods are important for staying healthy. 

Are Black Beans Really Good for You?

With nearly every food you can think of, there is a point where too much of a good thing can start to be bad. WIth black beans, it is hard to hit this point. There are only a couple of conditions under which you should avoid these tasty, nutritious legumes. 

If you are on a strict no-carb diet, then beans are going to be a no-go. Though packed with protein and other essential vitamins and minerals, beans do have carbs, which means they are off the menu for meal plans such as the keto diet

Another set of people who should be wary of black beans are those who have struggled with blood clots or certain kinds of heart disease. While the vitamin K found in beans is normally needed to keep you healthy, you should exercise caution in adding black beans to your diet if you are on blood thinners like coumadin (warfarin). Significant changes in levels of vitamin K can cause undesirable reactions with blood thinners.

Black Beans and Weight Loss

If you have spent any time trying to lose weight, you know there are few easy choices when it comes to losing pounds. Creating a diet where your total fat, protein, and carbohydrate intake is balanced and yet still keeps you in caloric deficit can be a challenge. Nutrient-dense foods like black beans have an important role to play here, especially for people who are facing the twin challenges of weight loss and another condition like type 2 diabetes. 

If you are working to establish a long-term weight loss diet, working with a dietitian or nutritionist may be your best bet. Helping to establish a healthy diet, paired with lifestyle changes, is exactly what True You Weight Loss can do through its medical assisted nutrition program. 

For some people, though, simply changing your diet is not going to be enough. There are times when diet and exercise are not enough to drop the pounds you are trying to lose. In these cases, finding the freedom from excess body weight might mean looking toward other options in medically assisted weight loss. 

For years, weight loss surgery meant the extreme step of a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery. This surgery, where your digestive tract is rerouted to bypass most of your stomach, can cause dramatic short-term weight loss, but the results are not guaranteed to stick around. In fact, many patients who initially lose weight with this procedure later find the remaining portion of their stomach can expand, leading to a need to have a follow-up procedure called a bariatric revision to maintain the benefits they were looking for from their original surgery. 

Thankfully, there are more and more options available to people who are looking to lose weight through medical procedures. Procedures such as endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG), or gastric balloons can offer much of the benefit of traditional weight loss surgery with far less of the dangerous side effects and consequences of more drastic surgeries. 

If you are interested in learning more about True You Weight Loss and whether we can help you find freedom from excess body fat, request a consultation today.

Dr. Christopher McGowan
Dr. Christopher McGowan

Dr. Christopher McGowan, MD, a leader in endobariatrics, specializes in non-surgical obesity treatments and is triple-board-certified in Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, and Obesity Medicine. Renowned for pioneering endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) with over 2,000 procedures, his global influence and research contributions define him as a top expert.

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