How This Helps

Any healthy diet should include beans. Beans are a powerhouse of nutrients and a potent source of fiber, folate, vitamin B1, phosphorus, plant iron, plant protein, magnesium, copper, and potassium. Beans are considered to be great for weight loss, and they are filling as well as low in calories. At the same time, beans are also very low in sodium, making it healthy for your heart. You can add beans to all types of meals, including soups, salads, main dishes, or even have it as a snack. 

The US government recommends that people should ideally be having half a cup of beans every day as it counts as both a vegetable and a protein source.[1]

For many people, canned beans are the most convenient method of including this powerhouse food into their diet — however, its a matter of debate whether canned beans are healthy and as nutritious as home-cooked beans. 

Canned beans vs. dried beans

The answer to the question, are canned beans healthy, lies in which a variety of canned beans you buy. Canned beans are healthy only as long as you are picking out the varieties that do not contain any unhealthy ingredients such as salt (sodium chloride) or sugar. Most brands of canned beans that are found on the shelves of supermarkets are usually full of sodium, containing around five hundred milligrams of sodium per half a cup of serving.

As per the recommendations of the American Heart Association, you should be having no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium in an entire day. So you need to consider whether you want to spend one-third of your sodium quota on half a cup of salted canned beans.[2]

When you compare the nutrition value between both canned and cooked beans, it comes out to be nearly the same, except for the high sodium content in canned beans. Canned beans have nearly 100 times the sodium content of cooked beans. 

But why is sodium bad for you? Sodium has long been associated with increasing your blood pressure, especially in people who already have hypertension or high blood pressure. The relation of sodium with high blood pressure was first discovered in 1904 in France.[3] 

Yet, it was only much later that the connection between sodium and high blood pressure was firmly established by scientist Walter Kempner, who found that having a low-salt rice diet could help bring down your blood pressure in people with hypertension.[4]

Since then, there have been many studies that have firmly established a strong connection between excessive sodium intake and increased blood pressure.[5,6]

Considering all this, the Institute of Medicine recommended that 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day should be a healthy limit for healthy adults.[7]

To get rid of the sodium, you can try draining and rinsing the canned beans, but keep in mind that doing this will also drain and rinse away some of the nutrients. This is the reason to opt for the no-salt-added brands of canned beans.

See: Functional medicine for Heart Disease

Canned beans health benefits

Nutritional Benefits of Canned Beans

Beans, regardless of whether you have them from the can or you choose to cook dried beans at home, are full of nutrients that boost your overall health. Beans are particularly high in fiber. Fiber is required by your body for increasing the friendly gut bacteria, helping you lose weight, reducing spikes in blood sugar levels after having a high-carb meal, and fiber can also help reduce cholesterol levels.

The fiber present in canned beans make you feel full for a longer time and is also low in calories. This helps curb your appetite. Several studies have found that increasing the intake of dietary fiber can help with weight loss since it reduces the overall calorie intake and also make a person feel satiated for a longer time.[8,9]

Due to the high amounts of fiber in canned beans, it helps soak up the water in your intestines, thus slowing down the absorption of nutrients. This is what increases the feeling of fullness, helping you lose weight in the long term.[10]

See: Are bananas good for diabetics

Cost of canned vs. dried beans

Canned Beans are Cheaper

A recent study found that canned beans are so popular because of the sheer fact that they are cheap. The research team confirmed that one serving of beans costs anywhere between ten cents to forty cents (but that too if we were to go to the extremes).[11] The researchers made a comparison of cost per serving of canned and cooked beans. Canned beans came to cost about three times more than dried beans. 

 

See: Insulin Plant Benefits & Precautions For Diabetes

Summary

Canned beans are preferred by many people over dried beans due to many reasons, canned beans are healthier, cheaper, and also take less time to cook. But are canned beans healthy? Yes, canned beans pack in a punch of nutrients in a small half-cup serving that you won’t find so easily in other canned foods. As long as you buy the sodium-free brands of canned beans, you can rest assured that you are having a healthy meal.

See: Keto diet benefits for weight loss, diabetes & PCOS

References

1. Michael, Z., Carol E, O. N., & Theresa A, N. (2011). Comparison of nutrient density and nutrient-to-cost between cooked and canned beans. Food and Nutrition Sciences, 2011.

2. www.heart.org. (2020). Sodium. [online] Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sodium [Accessed 22 Jan. 2020].

3. Scribner, B. H. (1983). Salt and hypertension. JAMA, 250(3), 388-389. 

4. Kempner, W. (1948). Treatment of a hypertensive vascular disease with a rice diet. The American journal of medicine, 4(4), 545-577.

5. He, F. J., Li, J., & MacGregor, G. A. (2013). Effect of longer‐term modest salt reduction on blood pressure. Cochrane database of systematic reviews, (4).

6. Leyvraz, M., Chatelan, A., da Costa, B. R., Taffé, P., Paradis, G., Bovet, P., ... & Chiolero, A. (2018). Sodium intake and blood pressure in children and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis of experimental and observational studies. International journal of epidemiology, 47(6), 1796-1810.

7. Campbell, S. (2004). Dietary reference intakes: water, potassium, sodium, chloride, and sulfate. Clinical Nutrition Insight, 30(6), 1-4.

8. Howarth, N. C., Saltzman, E., & Roberts, S. B. (2001). Dietary fiber and weight regulation. Nutrition reviews, 59(5), 129-139.

9. Slavin, J. L. (2005). Dietary fiber and body weight. Nutrition, 21(3), 411-418. 

10. Burton-Freeman, B. (2000). Dietary fiber and energy regulation. The Journal of nutrition, 130(2), 272S-275S.

11. Michael, Z., Carol E, O. N., & Theresa A, N. (2011). Comparison of nutrient density and nutrient-to-cost between cooked and canned beans. Food and Nutrition Sciences, 2011.

 

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