Ultimate Guide to Beans and Legumes

Humans are cultivating beans and legumes from the very beginning. In today’s world, they are consumed and grown by many countries around the world and are found in multiple cultures. Both of them are not only budget-friendly but also hold high nutritional benefits as well. The legume is an umbrella term used for all the beans, pulses, and lentils. Beans are a subcategory of legumes.

Beans In a Nutshell

Legumes include different types of beans. By a rough estimation, there are about 400 types of beans present all around the world. Every culture has different names for them. They are so popular that there are multiple songs about them as well. The scientific name of beans is “Phaseolus vulgaris”. No surprise why we call it beans! 

The best thing about beans is that they can complement almost every food and are considered a staple food in many countries. They are rich in protein, fiber, iron, and many other minerals. There are many different types of beans present in the market.

Types of Beans

Let’s dig in and have a look at different beans and their nutritional benefits.

Red Beans

They are also known as “small beans”. If we talk about their color, it is quite similar to a ruby stone and has a well-defined oval shape. In most American states, they are called Mexican Red Beans. Most people confuse red beans with kidney beans because of their similar appearance. Red beans contain a mild earthy flavor with a hint of sweetness and soft texture. 

When cooking Mexican red beans, it is important to fully cook them before consumption. This is because half-cooked beans are harmful to digestion. They are more commonly used in Caribbean and Latin cuisine. 

Red Kidney Beans. 

Nutritional Value per ¼ Cup: (Dried) 160 kcal

    • Protein 10g
    • Carbohydrate 28g
    • Fiber 7g
    • Calcium 60.1mg
    • Fat 0g

Cannellini Beans

Also known as White kidney and Columbia beans, cannellini beans are one of the largest beans in the family of white beans. They are crunchier and richer than other beans in the family. Furthermore, they have a mild nutty flavor. If poured, they feel like a creamy mashed potato. Columbia beans are widely used for salads, soups, and stews. Cannellini beans are one of the most famous ones and we recommend that you try them at least once. Their amazing taste will truly savor your taste buds.  

Nutritional Value per ¼ Cup: (Dried) 100 kcal

    • Protein 7g
    • Carbohydrate 20g
    • Fiber 6g
    • Calcium 59.8mg
    • Fat 0.5g

Fava Beans 

These beans are also known as fava or broad beans. Faba beans are usually found fresh in the farmer’s market. They are green in color but change their appearance to brown later when dried. Fava beans hold equally better and sweet taste. They can be eaten uncooked or can be cooked in soup or pasta. You can also roast or sauté them for different dishes. You can also use them in a green salad. 

One thing to keep in mind is that these beans should not be eaten by people suffering from a rare genetic condition called favism, as they can damage their red blood cells. 

Faba Beans.

Nutritional Value per ¼ Cup: (Dried) 111 kcal

    • Protein 10g
    • Carbohydrate 22.2g
    • Fiber 9.45g
    • Calcium 46.6mg
    • Fat 0.92g

Lima Beans

A butter bean is a widely used name for lima beans in some countries. They are small in size with a hint of green and white color. They taste grainy but their texture looks familiar to butter or creamy substance. Lima beans can also be used in a variety of dishes and are rich in fiber, calcium, protein, and carbohydrate content. Therefore, they fulfill all basic nutritional requirements. 

Lima Beans. 

Nutritional Value per Cup: (Cooked) 229 kcal

    • Protein 14.6g
    • Carbohydrate 42.4g
    • Fiber 14g
    • Calcium 52.8mg
    • Fat 0.92g

Mung Beans

Mung beans are green in color with starch-like consistency. They go best with salads and casseroles. Before cooking, it is recommended to soak them overnight. They contain antioxidants that are beneficial for gut health as well as various other oxidant sources. Recipes cooked with mung beans are widely used in diet-friendly meals because they keep the stomach fuller for a longer time.

Mung beans are quite popular. 

Nutritional Value per Cup: (Cooked) 187 kcal

    • Protein 12.6g
    • Carbohydrate 34.3g
    • Fiber 13.7g
    • Calcium 48.6mg
    • Fat 0.68g

Kidney Beans

Native to America, these kidney beans are widely used all over the world in many different dishes. They come in both dried and canned forms. Besides, they have a variation of colors ranging from blood red to pale crimson. These beans have a solid nutty flavor along with a light sour undertone. One drawback of these beans is that they may require a longer time to cook and need overnight soaking. They work best for slow cooker meals.

Nutritional Value per Cup: (Cooked) 215 kcal

    • Protein 13.4g
    • Carbohydrate 37.1g
    • Fiber 11g
    • Calcium 87 mg
    • Fat 1.54g

Chickpeas (garbanzo)

Garbanzo is a Spanish name for chickpeas. They are also known as Kabuli beans in most parts of South Asia. Chickpeas were widely used by our ancestors as they were used to make a variety of cuisines. Chickpeas are the star ingredient in one of the most popular dips that we all love: Hummus. 

Roasted chickpeas made a wonderful yet healthy snack. The main feature of garbanzo is that they are versatile and easy to cook.

Chickpeas are quite popular. 

Nutritional Value per ½ Cup: (Cooked) 160 kcal

    • Protein 10g
    • Carbohydrate 26g
    • Fiber 5g
    • Calcium 80mg
    • Fat 2g

Lentils

Varieties of lentils are available in the market. Lentils vary in color and size. Each lentil has a significant taste. They become soft and creamy after cooking. When added in soups and porridge they can do wonders. All the varieties of lentils are rich in antioxidants. They are highly popular in the sub-continent and can be found almost in every household.   

Nutritional Value per ¼ Cup: (Dried) 100 kcal

    • Protein 8g
    • Carbohydrate 23g
    • Fiber 7g
    • Calcium 20mg
    • Fat 0.5g

Guidelines to Cook Beans

  • The first and the most important rule for cooking beans is that they must be soaked overnight or for several hours (in hot water) before cooking. 
  • There is no need to soak canned beans as they are already cooked. Avoid cooking dried beans on simmer to slow heat as low heat won’t kill the toxins.
  • Always wash beans as they may contain some dust particles.
  • Check the beans after every 10 to 15 minutes to determine the consistency according to your cuisine.

Conclusion

Beans are something that provides us with vital health benefits in terms of nutrition. They are a great snack item and can be used in a variety of dishes too. Above, we have mentioned the different types of beans that you can try out. It is our recommendation to try out all of them and then pick your favorite ones to be used in a variety of other dishes as well.