The bean will surprise you with its health benefits and possibilities of use in the kitchen. What are they like?

The bean is used for its seeds, but in some cases the entire pod can also be consumed.

Do you know what types of beans there are?

Or how are they stored?

You will learn all this and much more in our article!

Bean, a herb with tasty and nutritious seeds

Beans are the seeds of flowering plants in the legume family and are classified as legumes. Some beans grow in pods or pods that develop from flowers. They are an affordable source of protein, fiber, iron and vitamins that offer many health benefits. You can get them dry, canned or frozen. In some cases, they can be eaten unripe as a whole pod. In our country, you will most often come across broad beans or scarlet beans.

Bean pods growing outdoors.

Health benefits of eating beans

Eating beans has many health benefits, such as:

  • They are rich in protein .
  • They contain several vital nutrients, including folic acid , which is essential for overall health.
  • They are rich in polyphenols, a type of antioxidants that help protect the body from disease.
  • They support heart health .
  • They reduce the level of cholesterol .
  • They have anti-inflammatory effects that even reduce the risk of cancer.
  • They stabilize blood glucose levels and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • They improve liver health .
  • It creates a feeling of fullness , which prevents overeating and can lead to weight loss.
  • They improve intestinal health .

Side effects of eating beans

  • Many beans contain lectins , which are proteins that are potentially toxic to humans. Soaking and cooking beans reduces the lectin content. People should cook beans for at least 10 minutes to make sure they are safe.
  • The most common side effects of eating beans are gas and intestinal problems .
  • Beans may not be suitable for people with irritable bowel syndrome .

Nutritional values ​​of beans

In the following table, see a comparison of the nutritional values ​​of selected types of cooked beans in 100 grams.

Nutritional values Mung beans
Navy beans
Black beans
Adzuki beans
Energy 155 calories 140 calories 132 calories 128 calories
Fats 6.9 g 0.6 g 0.5 g 0.1 g
Carbohydrates 18 g 26 g 24 g 25 g
Fiber 7.1 g 11 g 8.7 g 7.3 g
Proteins 6.5 g 8.2 g 8.9 g 7.5 g

Vitamins and minerals in beans

Also look at the amount of minerals and vitamins that 100 grams of selected types of cooked beans contain.

Vitamins and minerals Mung beans
Navy beans
Black beans
Adzuki beans
Vitamin A 1.00 mcg 0.00 mcg 0.00 mcg 0.00 mcg
Vitamin B1 0.145 mg 0.237 mg 0.244 mg 0.115 mg
Vitamin B2 0.054 mg 0.066 mg 0.059 mg 0.064 mg
Vitamin B3 0.509 mg 0.649 mg 0.505 mg 0.717 mg
Vitamin B6 0.059 mg 0.138 mg 0.069 mg 0.096 mg
Vitamin B9 140.00 mcg 140.00 mcg 149.00 mcg 121.00 mcg
Vitamin C 0.9 mg 0.9 mg 0.0 mg 0.0 mg
Calcium 25.00 mg 69.00 mg 27.00 mg 28.00 mg
Copper 0.14 mg 0.21 mg 0.21 mg 0.30 mg
Iron 1.31 mg 2.36 mg 2.10 mg 2.00 mg
Magnesium 45.00 mg 53.00 mg 70.00 mg 52.00 mg
Phosphorus 92.00 mg 144.00 mg 140.00 mg 168.00 mg
Potassium 247.00 mg 389.00 mg 355.00 mg 532.00 mg
Selenium 2.30 mcg 2.90 mcg 1.20 mcg 1.20 mcg
Sodium 218.00 mg 237.00 mg 237.00 mg 244.00 mg
Zinc 0.78 mg 1.03 mg 1.12 mg 1.77 mg

How to choose beans and how to store them?

A little known fact is that you should cook beans within a year of being harvested. But how do you know how old a bean is when it’s sold in bulk? There is nothing easier than looking at them. Beans that are stored too long will be cracked, split and can even be split in half. They shouldn’t taste stale either.

Black beans whole and black beans damaged.

On the left of the picture are fresh dried black beans. On the right is an older, chipped and cracked bean. Don’t buy one.

It is best to get local beans . This will ensure you have the freshest batch. It is also ideal to buy them in bulk from a merchant with a high turnover. The more beans a grocer sells, the more often they have to buy them, meaning they are always fresh.

Durability is one of the reasons beans are so popular.

  • Uncooked, packaged, dry beans can be stored in a tightly closed container in a cool, dry place for up to one year. If you store them for a long time, they will lose moisture and may require a longer cooking time. If they get stale, adding baking soda can help soften them.
  • Canned beans can be stored for up to 12 months in their original sealed cans.
  • Cooked beans can be refrigerated in a covered container for up to five days.
  • Cooked beans can be frozen for up to 6 months.

Freezing beans before long-term storage is considered an important step by some individuals because it kills the eggs of most pests that can get into the dried beans.

Types of beans

There are many types and varieties of beans. Rod, creeper or shrub varieties are grown, the seeds can be black, white, red, or even mottled. In our country, common beans are grown the most, followed by scarlet beans.


They have a dark red skin, a white interior and a kidney shape. They contain a lot of protein and are therefore a popular choice among vegetarians. Their flavor is mild and goes well with soups, salads, tacos, curries, wraps and chili con carne. You can also mash them to make a creamy dip.

Lima (Moon Bean)

Lima beans include several varieties whose seeds are of different sizes. They can be bigger, buttery or baby and they are sweet. They are either green or white and their texture is floury and creamy. If cooked too long, it can turn into mush. They are a great addition to any soup or can be served on their own as a side dish.


These beans are light brown to reddish brown in color and taste bittersweet. You can stew them and add them to soups or sauté or roast them in various ways. They also taste great in salads. Before cooking, always blanch them first (after removing the pods) and then proceed with your preferred cooking method.


Their seeds have a mottled pattern of pink, red, brown and beige. When cooked, these bright shades fade to light brown. They are a staple of Italian and Portuguese cuisine.


They are the largest type of white bean, which makes them fleshier than other types. However, they have a mild and nutty taste. They are popular in Italy. It goes well with soups, salads and many Italian dishes. They hold their shape well and can be easily cooked, even mashed and made into delicious fritters.

Boston Beans (Navy)

Navy beans are another type of white bean. They are small, hearty and floury, but they don’t hold their shape very well. Their texture is creamy and the taste is mild. They perfectly absorb the surrounding flavors. They are commonly used in traditional English breakfasts or prepared baked. Try seasoning them with bay leaf, garlic and fresh herbs.

Black beans

These are medium-sized, oval-shaped beans with a dull black skin. They have a sweet taste with a soft texture. Their glycemic index is also lower than that of many other high carbohydrate foods. They are popular in Central American, South American and Caribbean cuisine. Add them to salads, soups, baked mixes or tacos. They are also a healthy substitute for meat or even flour.


Adzuki are small, round red beans that taste slightly sweet but, like most beans, are nutty and mild. They are used in baking, but also go well with mushrooms and sweet potatoes. You can also make a paste from them or use them in Asian sweets.


These are small, round green beans with a white stripe that are soft and mealy when cooked. It is among the most consumed types of beans in the world. You can use them in soups and salads, they are also great in baked mixes. Thanks to their high fiber content, they are very filling. They can also be mashed and made into nutritious fritters.


Pinto beans are orange-pink in color with rust-colored spots. They are loaded with fiber and protein. Their earthy flavor and smooth texture are perfect for making dips and stews. They come from Central and South America and are mainly used in Mexican dishes.

Black eye

These beans originate from Africa and are consumed all over the world. They are beige in color with a striking black spot, hence the name “black eye”. They have an earthy flavor and are a great complement to ham and bacon. You can serve them as a side dish or add them to a salad. They are great stewed in chicken stock to make them soft and plump.

Various types of beans on a large wooden spoon and scattered around.

How to use beans in the kitchen

Soaking dried beans

Especially for dried beans, experts recommend soaking them for at least 5 hours before cooking. Whether or not you should soak beans in general is always up for debate. Some claim that soaking beans makes digestion easier, while others claim the opposite. And how to soak them properly?

  1. Before soaking, inspect the beans and remove any shriveled, damaged or broken pieces.
  2. Then place the beans in a large bowl.
  3. Make sure the bowl is large enough to accommodate the expansion of the beans during soaking.
  4. Add enough water to cover the beans by a few inches.
  5. Use about 4 to 6 cups of water for one cup of dried beans.
  6. Let the beans soak for at least 5 hours or overnight.

You can also try a quick soak .

  1. Put the beans in a pot on the stove, cover with two centimeters of water and bring to a boil.
  2. Turn off the heat and let them soak for an hour.
  3. Drain, rinse and continue with your recipe.

How to properly cook dried beans?

  1. Drain the beans from the soaking water.
  2. Place them in a large pot.
  3. If you are cooking a pound (about two cups) of beans, add 10 cups of water.
  4. Add two bay leaves if needed.
  5. Bring the pot to a boil for a few minutes, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer for about 45 minutes to 90 minutes.
  6. The beans are done when they are soft and have a creamy texture.
  7. It is normal for some beans to split in half while others hold their shape.
  8. Remember to stir the beans once in a while to promote even cooking.
  9. Check for doneness after 30 minutes as the cooking time may vary depending on the soaking time and age of the beans.
  10. You can add a teaspoon of salt about 10 minutes before removing the beans from the stove.
  11. Some say that salt prevents the beans from softening during cooking, so it’s a good idea to add it towards the end just in case.

You can also bake the beans in an oven heated to 150°C.

Boiled beans in a saucepan with a wooden spoon.

Tomato products, lemon, sugar and vinegar slow down cooking, so add these ingredients during the last 10-15 minutes of cooking.

How to season beans?

  • Add some fat to them . A couple of spoons of lard or extra virgin olive oil will do just fine. Simmering the beans in fat smoothes out the starches and brings out the flavor wonderfully.
  • Drop a couple of smoked hams into the water while the beans are cooking. Crispy bacon also works beautifully, but add the bacon after the beans are cooked.
  • Saute the chopped onion, garlic, celeriac and carrot (occasionally mushrooms) in a separate pan until good and caramelised. Once the onion mixture is nicely dark, pour in a little water (or stock). Scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any brown bits and bring back to the boil. Now turn off the heat and add the sautéed vegetables and liquid to the pot with the beans and cook the mixture with the beans. The brown bits that are created by the stir-fry add a super tasty punch of flavor. Remember not to add salt until the beans are cooked (this includes the sautéed vegetable mixture).

How to reduce the risk of bloating?

  • Reduce the amount of gas by slow cooking . This breaks down carbohydrates into digestible sugars. Cover the beans with 5 cm of water or stock and add salt to taste and throw in any aromatics you like. Set the appliance to low and cook until the beans are done, usually 3 to 6 hours. If you are cooking beans, you must first cook them on the stove for 10 minutes before adding them to the slow cooker. This makes them much more digestible.
  • Add suitable herbs – turmeric, ginger, thyme, sage, rosemary, basil or coriander.

What is the difference between dried and canned beans?

Canned beans are actually just dried beans that have already been cooked. Unlike their uncooked counterparts, they don’t need to be soaked or steamed , so it’s a faster, more reliable and more convenient option. The brine in which canned beans are stored leaches out the starches, proteins, and plant solids, often resulting in a less robust flavor and texture . But depending on what you use them for, it might not have such a huge impact.

One downside to canned beans is that because they’re sold in opaque containers, you can’t see the quality of the beans .

Regardless of whether you buy canned or dried beans, it’s always a good idea to rinse the beans before using them . Rinsing the dried beans will remove any dirt or particles that may have made it home from the field. With canned beans, you rinse the beans of excess salt solution and sodium, but you can keep the liquid in which they were stored for other uses – for example, in vegan mayonnaise or you can whip it into a meringue like egg whites.

White beans in canned tomato sauce.

And where can you use dried or canned beans?

How to consume bean pods?

You can eat them raw or cooked to varying degrees of tenderness and use as a side dish. They can also be added to many different dishes including salads, stir-fries, soups and stews.

Preparing beans basically involves cleaning and trimming the beans. The less the beans are chopped, the sweeter and crunchier they are. French-style cutting beans lengthwise should only be done on older, more mature beans.

  • Wash the beans under cold water until they are free of dirt.
  • To prepare them for cooking, break off the stem end of the beans.
  • The end of the stem can also be cut off with a knife.
  • The opposite end can also be cut off, but it is not necessary.
  • Beans can be left whole or cut at an angle into smaller pieces.

Beans can be cooked in several ways , such as cooking on the stove, steaming, frying, and microwaving. When cooking beans, use as little water as possible and do not overcook to preserve the bright color and texture of the beans.

You can serve the beans with just salt and pepper, or you can add melted butter, herbs and lemon juice.

Green beans served on a plate with lemon slices.

Get inspired by our best bean recipes you’ll love!

Milan & Ondra

We are both fans of good food and enjoy cooking. On this website, we want to inspire you with traditional, but also less common recipes. We will be happy if you try our recipes and let us know how you liked them. Bon appetite! :)