Black Beans vs Pinto Beans

Oct 21, 2022

Black Beans vs Pinto Beans

With the vegetarian movement and the push to incorporate more plant proteins, beans seem like a better alternative to tofu for many.

With the familiar kid chant rhyme “Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart……”, there’s a few considerations to think about.

Beans must be good for your heart and cardiovascular system, but what about digesting them without a lot of gas and bloating?

Memories of sitting on an airplane, after eating baked beans on the last supper before flying helps imprint the memory of the embarrassing flatulence that can happen with beans.

Sit back and relax to enjoy this read, there are some clever techniques when preparing legumes that help to minimize the effects of intestinal gas.

Black Beans vs Pinto Beans Which is healthier?

Black bean burrito, Mexican black bean salsa and black bean brownies are all common recipes that incorporate these dark skinned ‘turtle beans’.

Pinto beans have a history originating from Mexico and Central America. Pinto beans (frijoles) are the main ingredient in refried beans. They are the most popular and widely used legume in Northern Mexico and Southwestern United states.

Black beans vs pinto beans……which bean is healthier is a common question people ask.

Both beans have excellent nutritional profiles for regular use in cooking, but one comes out slightly ahead for a particular health advantage. The colour gives a certain clue to that advantage.

All legumes are rich in protein, fibre, naturally low in fat and are an excellent source of folate. Folate is a necessary B vitamin to help prevent neural tube defects in newborns and hence essential in pregnancy. Folate also decreases homocysteine levels in the blood, which helps lower the dementia-causing plaque in the brain and is an important nutrient for overall brain health.

There’s evidence that beans may be a key dietary staple for longevity and aging well into older years. Five Blue Zones around the world, where a majority of the population enjoy good quality of life upwards into their hundreds indicate that eating beans at least three times per week help with this longevity. 

Legumes are the fruit or seed of plants of the legume family (such as peas or beans) used for food.

Not all legumes are beans, but all beans are considered legumes.

There are 19,000 different species of legumes and 751 genera of plants.

Common legumes are beans, lentils, peanuts and peas that grow on vines or underground.

Most types of nuts grow on trees, considered ‘tree nuts’ rather than legumes. Walnuts, hazelnuts and pistachios are all nuts that grow in trees. Peanuts grow underground and are classified as a legume. Other beans and peas grow on vines too and not in trees.

Tree Nuts

Good For Your Heart

Black, pinto and other beans are loaded with nutrients. They are a good source of protein that is integral to the immune system, in addition to tissue repair, plus, healthy growth and development.

Legumes, including black beans, pinto beans and other legumes have excellent fibre content which helps lower blood cholesterol (hence, good for the heart), lowers blood pressure, helps with weight management and blood sugar control by improving insulin sensitivity.

cans beans

Blood Sugar Management

A 2020 meta-analysis review article in American Journal of Lifestyle Medication demonstrated that pulses have been shown to influence lipid profiles, glycemic control, and blood pressure, therefore providing a potential dietary tool for disease risk reduction, which may be particulaly beneficial among adults with diabetes. 

A 2014 study in ARYA Artherosclerosis demonstrated that 2027 participants who had frequent consumption of legumes had corresponding lower blood sugar levels. Fiber-rich beans help to slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream to improve blood glucose management for people with diabetes, or those who are trying to prevent the development of prediabetes and diabetes.

blood sugar management

Weight Control

The protein and fibre content of legumes helps with satiety to manage weight. Soluble fibre bulks, gels and expands in the intestines and moves slowly through the GI tract. This helps reduce feelings of hunger and helps to prevent overeating and weight control.

Plus, studies have shown that grehlin, the hunger hormone decreases with the consumption of legumes, which helps with feelings of fullness and satiety.

Results from the National Health and Nutritional Exam Survey conducted 1999-2002 released in 2008 in the American College of Nutrition stated that bean consumption is associated with less abdominal girth aka belly fat, lower body weight and reduced risk of obesity. 

weight management

Cardiovascular Health

Beans, Beans, they’re good for your heart. With several markers of inflammation lowered with regular legume consumption, beans can help with cardiovascular health.

Nearly 10,000 men and women were followed for 19 years, and those who included legumes at least four times per week had a 22% decreased risk of coronary artery disease, plus 11% lower risk of CVD compared to those who only ate legumes less than once per week.

In a study of a subset of participants, who had diabetes in the large-scale EPIC study, intake of vegetables, fruits and legumes together was associated with a reduced risk of all-cause mortality, as well as risk of death from CVD.
Analyzed separately, the trend towards all cause mortality was true only for vegetables and legumes, but not fruit.
These studies indicate correlation not causation, but offer health incentives to include more beans in the diet.

In a study conducted at University of Saskatchewan published in the British Journal of Nutrition, 108 older adults (age 50+) were given two servings of legumes per day for two months and assessed for cardiovascular disease risk indicators compared to those who were eating their regular diets, with no beans. After two months of consuming beans daily, the subject’s cholesterol dropped. Total cholesterol by 8.3% and LDL (lousy-type) by 7.9%.
Eating beans regularly can help with blood pressure management too.

beans heart health

GI Health

Although some people may have uncomfortable intestinal gas, regular bean consumption has been shown to help reduce diverticulosis, hemmorhoids, intestinal ulcers, gastroesophaeal reflux disease (GERD) and will add bulk to stool to support bowel regularity and prevent constipation.

gi health

Legumes are mother nature’s oxymoron, creating intesintal gas for some, while protecting against diseases of the gut and GI tract for those who regularly eat them.

Lectin is a protein substance in most beans that can cause GI upset for those who eat them undercooked or raw. These toxins can be inactivated by boiling beans for as little as ten minutes. Canned legumes and soaked&boiled beans have their lectin deactivated and are safe to eat.

Reducing Flatulence

To reduce the likelihood of flatulence, rinsing canned beans prior to adding to recipes can help with ridding the fermentable polysaccharide sugars that are difficult to digest.
When cooking with pulses, or dried beans and legumes, throwing the water away that they were soaked in helps to reduce the gassy effects when eating the food made with beans.

bean soup

Spice it up

Adding spices to your bean dish will naturally help reduce the gassiness of beans.
Cilantro, cumin, bay leaves, turmeric, fennel, anise and rosemary are all herbs and spices that can help reduce the gassy effects of bean consumption, plus pair well with a variety of bean dishes.

When all else fails, adding Beano (a digestive enzyme tablet), to the mix can also aid in digestion after eating chili or baked beans.

taco salad

Black Beans vs Pinto Beans

Black beans are sometimes referred to as turtle beans and are hard and nutty legumes. Adequate soaking and cooking will ensure they are ready for digestion after eating.

Pinto beans being soft and creamy, can offer a better bean to use for many of the recipes dedicated to black beans, such as hummus, tacos or burritos.

Pinto beans offer both nine grams of protein and fibre per 100 gram serving, whereas black beans offer both eight grams of protein and fiber per 100 gram serving.

Pinto beans have a good source of selenium, due in part to, where they are grown, in selenium-rich soil compared to black beans. Selenium is a micromineral that is important for immune system function and is difficult to attain in regular food consumption.

black and pinto beans

Black beans, owing to their dark black (almost purple hue) , have anthocyanins, a polyphenol healthful phytochemical that acts as an antioxidant, and can protect against cancer.

With their dark colour, black beans have a slight advantage over pinto beans in their nutritional and healthful benefits.

With pinto bean’s versatility in different dishes with their soft and creamy texture, regular consumption of pintos offer beneficial effects for health. 

As variety is the spice of life, black bean dishes can complement regular weekly pinto bean consumption in various recipes to garner the antioxidant effects.

However you use them, all beans and legumes are healthful additions to your kitchen arsenal and can add variety and flavour to your weekly repertoire. Increasing the amount of legumes in your week’s menu will help you (as they say on Star Trek) live long and prosper.

Listen in to Episode

#42 on My Wife The Dietitian to learn all about Beans on Spotify or

Podcast – Sandra Gentleman

My Wife The Dietitian Podcast

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