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7 Health and Nutrition Benefits of Pinto Beans

Health + Wellness
Eskay Lim / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Kaitlyn Berkheiser

Pinto beans are the most popular dried beans in the U.S.


They're a variety of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), which is frequently used in Mexican cuisine.

Pinto beans are beige with reddish-brown specks when dried but become a solid light brown or pale pink when cooked. They have an earthy, almost nutty flavor and are simple to prepare. They're regularly eaten whole or mashed.

Pinto beans are not only full of vitamins and minerals but may also offer several impressive health benefits.

Here are 7 health and nutrition benefits of pinto beans.

1. Loaded With Nutrients

Pinto beans are primarily comprised of carbs, fiber, and protein. They also pack an incredible punch of vitamins and minerals.

One cup (171 grams) of pinto beans boiled with salt provides (1):

  • Calories: 245
  • Carbs: 45 grams
  • Fiber: 15 grams
  • Protein: 15 grams
  • Fat: 1 gram
  • Sodium: 407 mg
  • Thiamine: 28% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Iron: 20% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 21% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 20% of the DV
  • Potassium: 16% of the DV

As you can see, they boast a good amount of thiamine (vitamin B1), which is an essential vitamin that helps your body convert food into energy.

They also offer numerous other minerals, such as iron and magnesium, and contain small amounts of other B vitamins, zinc, and calcium.

When cooked without salt or other additives, pinto beans are free of cholesterol and low in fat and sodium.

Summary

Pinto beans contain important vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber. In particular, they boast plenty of thiamine, iron, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.

2. Excellent Source of Fiber

Fiber is an indigestible carb found in plant foods.

It's very important for your digestive health, as it helps feed the good bacteria in your gut. Yet, most people don't reach their daily recommended fiber intake (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source).

Women should aim for 25 grams of fiber per day, while men should get 38 grams (4).

One cup (171 grams) of boiled pinto beans provides 40–60% of the DV for women and men, respectively.

Adequate intake of fiber-rich foods, including pinto beans, may promote heart health, blood sugar control, proper digestion, gut health, and even weight loss (2Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).

Summary

Pinto beans are an excellent source of dietary fiber, which is linked to improved blood sugar regulation and gut health, among numerous other benefits.

3. Rich in Antioxidants

Pinto beans contain many healthy antioxidants, including polyphenols and flavonoids.

Antioxidants protect your cells against damage from free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can contribute to disease over time (8Trusted Source).

Pinto beans are particularly rich in kaempferol, a flavonoid associated with impressive health benefits. Many animal and test-tube studies link it to repressed cancer growth (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).

Additionally, kaempferol is associated with reduced inflammation and a lower incidence of stroke (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source).

Summary

Pinto beans are a rich source of antioxidants — particularly kaempferol, which may provide anticancer benefits.

4. May Improve Blood Sugar Regulation

Pinto beans may support blood sugar control.

Despite their high carb content, they don't excessively raise blood sugar. Their low glycemic index (GI) means that they're digested slowly, moderating their blood sugar effects (15Trusted Source).

Multiple studies show that diets rich in low-GI foods may help improve blood sugar regulation (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).

Additionally, pinto beans are high in fiber and protein, both of which slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream (3Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).

Summary

Pinto beans have a low GI and are high in fiber and protein, all of which promote blood sugar management.

5. May Aid Heart Health

Pinto beans are also heart-healthy.

One small, 8-week study found that eating 1/2 cup (86 grams) of pinto beans every day significantly decreased both total and LDL (bad) cholesterol — high levels of which are associated with increased heart disease risk (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).

In another study, eating pinto beans regularly not only lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol but also encouraged propionate production (6Trusted Source).

Propionate is a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) shown to help lower blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels (21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source).

Lastly, pinto beans are rich in various nutrients, such as magnesium and potassium. These minerals help prevent high blood pressure, a crucial risk factor for heart disease (1Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).

Summary

Pinto beans may help lower blood pressure, as well as total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, thereby decreasing your risk of heart disease.

6. May Boost Weight Loss

Pinto beans may promote weight loss.

They're rich in both protein and fiber, two nutrients that can help you feel full for longer and keep your appetite at bay (25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source).

Multiple studies have linked bean intake to increased fullness, lower body weight, and smaller waist circumference (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source).

Summary

Due to their high protein and fiber contents, pinto beans may promote fullness. In turn, increased fullness may lead to weight loss.

7. Easy to Add to Your Diet

Pinto beans are inexpensive and easy to prepare.

One of the easiest ways to prepare them is on the stovetop. If you're using dried beans, you should wash them and remove any bad beans — those that are broken, spilt, or unnaturally dark.

Soaking the beans overnight will make them cook faster.

To cook, cover them with water or chicken broth in a large pot. You can also add other spices and flavorings, such as onion, garlic, cilantro, or jalapeño. Bring them to a boil on medium-high heat for 1 minute, then simmer for 2–4 hours on low-medium heat until tender.

Pinto beans can be enjoyed as a healthy side or part of a high-protein, meatless meal.

If you prefer buying canned beans, just keep in mind that many canned products can contain added salt, sugar, and preservatives.

Summary

Pinto beans are an easy and inexpensive dish to prepare. If you purchase canned beans, watch out for excess sugar, salt, and preservatives.

The Bottom Line

Pinto beans are extremely nutritious.

They're an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients may provide several benefits, including improved blood sugar control and heart health.

Pinto beans are also rich in various antioxidants and may help lower your risk of chronic disease.

What's more, they're affordable, easy to prepare, and pair well with numerous dishes. Just remember that canned varieties may harbor unwanted ingredients, like sugar and salt.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.

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