Superfood Profile: The Humble Black Bean

Posted February 6, 2013

Yes that’s right. Black beans are totally superfoods. Betcha weren’t aware of that piece of culinary insight. They may not look fancy, have a fancy name, or come from some fancy forest, but these little beans pack one hell of a nutritious punch. Let’s call forward their list of achievements:

Protein + fibre = a rare super combination

My friend Sarah Britton from My New Roots wrote about how unheard of and cool this culinary combo is. She says that a one-cup serving of black beans contains 14 grams of protein. That is the same amount as a 2 oz. serving of chicken or salmon. Plus, you would get the same 15g of fibre in that one-cup serve as you would chowing down on 3 cups of broccoli, 4 cups of Brussels sprouts, or 15 plums.

This protein-fibre combo is apparently so rare that you won’t actually find it in any other food. Not only does this make the humble black bean a real star player in your pantry, but it also means that black beans are wonderful for your digestive system, regulating your blood sugar, and aiding your
cardiovascular system.

Then there’s the fact that black beans are also packed with antioxidants. The same family of phytonutrients, called anthocyanins, that you find in blueberries, grapes and acai is also found in black beans. Good stuff, hey.

What can we do with black beans?

Before my foray into the wellness world, the only time I heard of black beans was when I was reading a Chinese take-away menu, and I was never really a fan of the overly salty dishes these beans resided in. Now, I love my black beans in call kinds of meals – both savoury and sweet.

Consider cooking with black beans next time you’re up for making a yummo veggie curry, some veggie burgers, adding extra protein to your salads or soups. And if you’re satisfying a sweet craving the healthy way, you can use black beans in brownies and cookies.

Here are some yummy recipes I’ve found around the interweb:

Black bean brownies from Whole Promise

Black bean chocolate chilli cherry cookies from My New Roots

Pumpkin black bean patties from Sprouted Kitchen

Vegetarian Chilli from The Vedge

Were you aware of how wonderful black beans are? How do you eat yours? Share in the comments below.


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Thanks Jess. Cooking with black beans is on my to do list. After reading this post I’ll be doing it sooner rather than later.

Hi Jess,

I love using black beans in my cooking too! and i love this recipe below from “Highrise Fitness”;
Rich Mocha Health Cake . . . with a secret!

Black beans are the goods! I usually have them in a Mexican style layered salad starting with lime coriander quinoa, blackbeans, tomato salsa, guacamole and jalepenos. So delicious.

PS as black beans arent as common in Australia as other beans, I find black turtle beans are easy to find and make a good substitute. Not sure how the health properties differ though, or whether they are in fact the same thing…

I think black turtle beans are the same thing? Just a different name. I use them constantly as we are big Mexican food fans!

Cleo, that sounds yummy can you post the full recipe?

Thanks for this Jess. I’ve recently starting making large batches of black beans in lieu of canned versions, so have been doing some experimenting. Linking to my fave recipe… – courtesy of Elise Bauer and apparently adapted from a recipe in the Fields of Greens cookbook.

Outside of prepping with a soak and such, it’s so easy and they freeze really well.


Thanks for the advice on the black beans. Where do you find them to purchase? In the supermarket? Or only health food shops?

Kim » You may be able to find them in the supermarket (in the section with lentils etc.) but health stores should definitely have them. x

Thanks for a reminder that sometimes a “superfood” isn’t some exotic (expensive) item only to be found at the most elite health food stores! Black beans are beyond easy to find and are super cheap here in California.

I’m going to try this recipe from Choosing Raw:

I love black beans! I use them in brownies (yum) in Mexican, in yummy dips and spreads and so much more. Check it out one of my ideas here. X

Thanks Jess
You’ve got me interested and I’ve been googling how to sprout black beans. However, most of what I’ve read indicates they’re not good sprouters and you’re better off cooking them. Oh well …I’m still putting them on the shopping list for next week.

All of these recipes sound and look selfish but I am one of the poor souls who doesn’t digest lentils and bean well. Bloating, tummy grumbles and pain, constipation and the gas…whoa! EPA may slap a fine on my ass if they catch me!
And I’m vego…

Omg, auto correct fail. Delish! The black bean recipes sound and look delish.
The humble black bean couldn’t possibly be selfish.

Some helpful information for “better bean digestion” including the use of Kombu…

Eden organics canned beans are soaked with kombi. The cans are also BPA free:)

I can well and truly vouch for Sarah Britton’s Black Bean Chocolate Cherry Chilli Cookies on her My New Roots blog… which I’ve not made for some time. Thanks for the reminder Jess!

And love love love your site… I live in the UK and at this time of year (cold / wet / snow) everyone can become a little disheartened and demotivated. I send positive affirmations from your Inspiration Board around my office to reawaken everybody’s jaded spirits!

Big Love X

I send the quotes around to my friends, family and colleagues too! And I chose a favourite each week and highlight that. I think anytime of year you can always have some inspirational quotes!
Thanks so much Jess, you truly are a beautiful soul supporting the world :)

Great – black beans are a staple here. :) I mash them up and put them in tacos and wraps, I add them to store bought soup when I’m (extra :D) lazy and I also use them in salads and warm sauces/stews usually over brown rice.

I heard, through my own nutritional research that when cooked, beans convert to a carbohydrate and are not a protein any longer. any nutritionists out there who would confirm or deny with comment about this would be great.

How could protein convert into carbohydrate? That is very silly. You better do a bit more of your ‘research’.

Does anyone else find legumes irritate and bloat your stomach?

Hi Jess

Thanks for this peice of very interesting information. Can you tell me if black turtle beans are “The black beans” referred to in your article???? Or are the asian black beans???

This black bean brownie recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie is AWESOME – I eat all raw now so I don’t make them anymore but when I was vegan/gluten-free this was a fab treat, check it out:

My husband is from the US so we eat them alot. They are super common there in Mexican food.

Rinse well and put them in the slow cooker in the morning on high and they are good to go in the evening. We do a big batch and then freeze most of them, they freeze really well. We add them cool to salads the way you might chuck in some chick peas and we make a yummy black bean and pumpkin pattie (someone above had a link to a recipe for this I think) and we also do a warm salad with quinoa and corn and again someone had a similar salad linked above. They are the same as turtle beans and are in all health food stores I’ve looked in. Never seen them in a supermarket tho :(

Me missus and me luv sum of old faithful, Captain Blackie – aka DA BLACK BEAN!

We eats them becuase it keeps us very regular, so regular I thought I had diarrhea but I had simply eaten over my usual 7 cup of blackbean for da day. MAD DAWG!

We love our beans!


Hi jess,

Im searching information of black bean. We love the black bean everyday. The problem is bean is prohibited by max gerson. And currently we follow the diet from gerson like juice, hippocrates soup, flax seed oil and etc. as the book said “other bean” is prohibited (due to l-cavananine…..) but how about black bean? Do share me ur thought and comment on this… Million thanks.

I just tried black turtle beans in this Spicy Stew Recipe Really tasty!