Beans are an easy, delicious way to add fiber, plant-based protein, and other nutrients to your meals. Dry beans are part of the Leguminosae family, along with lentils, split peas, and soybeans.

Dried beans

Health Benefits of Beans

1/2 cup of cooked beans contains about 110-125 calories, 5-8 grams of fiber, and 7-9 grams of protein. They are also low in fat and rich in folateiron, and potassium. Bean consumption has been associated with healthy weight maintenance and a reduced risk for chronic diseases.

Types of Beans

Beans come in dozens of colors, shapes, and sizes. Look for low-sodium canned varieties, or cook your own dry beans. Some of the most common varieties include: 

  • Black — these small beans have a strong flavor and pair well with spicy foods and intense flavors. They are very popular in Latin American cuisine.
  • Cannellini — these are large, white Italian beans, known for their smooth texture. Commonly used in minestrone soup or salads, they also puree well for dips or sauces.
  • Garbanzo — also known as chickpeas, these round beans are the key ingredient in hummus and are also tasty on salads and in soups.
  • Red kidney — these dark red beans can be used in many types of dishes, particularly chili or bean salads. *Dry and undercooked red kidney beans may contain toxins. Make sure to soak and cook properly; it is recommended to not use a slow cooker with this type of beans.
  • Navy — these small white beans can be used for soups, chili, or even salads, but one of the most popular uses is baked beans.
  • Pinto — these are speckled beige and brown when dry, and cook to a pinkish-brown color. They are often used in refried beans and are also good in chili and soups.

Dry beans are a type of pulse. For more information on pulses, check out the American Pulse Association:

Pulses and beans
Three types of pulses: chickpeas, dry beans (red kidney beans), and lentils.

Did You Know?

Dry beans can be even better for your budget than canned, but they require some preparation. Follow package directions for quick-soaking or overnight (8-12 hours) soaking, then cook them on the stove or in a slow cooker or pressure cooker.

After cooking beans, use immediately, or fill containers and refrigerate or freeze leftovers for a quick, nutritious addition to your favorite recipe.

Beans are a great in many dishes, including:

  • Burritos and tacos
  • Chili
  • Dips and spreads
  • Rice dishes
  • Salads
  • Smoothies
  • Soups and stews
  • Stir-fries
  • Veggie burgers

Beans can also be pureed and used as a substitute for cream in soups and sauces, or for some of the butter in baked goods like cookies!