Are Kidney Beans Healthy?  Here's what a dietitian has to say

Are Kidney Beans Healthy? Here’s what a dietitian has to say

Toast With Red Beans And Kraut

Toast With Red Beans And Kraut

Ted and Chelsea Cavanaugh

You probably already know that beans are powerhouses of nutrition, but what is it about kidney beans that makes them so nutritious? Of course, these legumes are packed with protein and plant fiber. But this is only the beginning. Let’s see why kidney beans are such a healthy food.

Recipe in pictures: Toast with Red Beans & Kraut

Kidney bean diet

Here is the nutritional breakdown for ½ cup of canned kidney beans, low sodium:

  • 104 calories

  • 7g protein

  • <1g fat

  • 19g carbohydrates

  • 7g fiber

  • 117mg sodium

  • 37mg Calcium

  • 333mg potassium

  • 2mg iron

  • 1mg vitamin C

Health Benefits of Kidney Beans

They support digestive health

Kidney beans offer plenty of fiber, which may help promote better gastrointestinal health. Kidney beans, like other beans, provide prebiotic fiber, says Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD. This type of fiber, she says, is “indigestible by humans and therefore acts as fuel for the beneficial bacteria in our gut, ultimately supporting a healthy microbiota.” Adding beans to your diet may help prevent gastrointestinal illnesses such as inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome, thanks to their high fiber content.

They can help with weight management

Beyond the prebiotic benefits, the fiber in kidney beans can be a powerful tool when it comes to weight management. The high fiber content combined with 7 grams of plant-based protein in each half-cup serving, says Isabel Vasquez, RD, LDN, also helps promote satiety. This makes beans an obvious food choice for anyone looking to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

They are a source of vegetable protein

Plant-based diets have become mainstream, which means that more and more people are looking for non-animal protein sources. Fortunately, legumes and beans, such as kidney beans, are naturally high in protein, providing as much protein per half cup as 1 ounce of many animal-based proteins.

They are rich in antioxidants

Kidney beans are also a source of antioxidants, Manaker says, which can help support our health in a variety of ways. Their red tint comes from anthocyanins, a group of antioxidants known to help reduce the risk of several chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, while promoting overall good health.

How to Enjoy Kidney Beans

Kidney beans are incredibly versatile when it comes to cooking. Their neutral flavor profile and slight nutty taste make them a great addition to salads, soups, wraps and bowls. Vasquez loves habichuelas guisadas, which in Spanish means “cooked beans”. This is a Dominican or Puerto Rican style of cooking beans with onions, garlic, peppers, cilantro, tomato sauce, and adobo seasoning; the dish is often served over rice with avocado, plantains and chicken.

Manaker suggests making your hummus with kidney beans instead of chickpeas for a fun twist. She also recommends using canned kidney beans for a quick salad with corn, onion, and other colorful, nutrient-dense ingredients like bell pepper or leafy greens.

Craving some soup? Enjoy red kidney beans in our Vegetarian Linguica, Kale & Red Bean Soup or Veggistrone. Or open a can and whip up these delicious vegan burgers made with kidney beans and beets.

The bottom line

Kidney beans are a super healthy food, providing plenty of satiating fiber and plant-based protein. They provide digestive health benefits and may also aid in weight management and disease prevention. Beyond that, they’re incredibly versatile, delicious, and easy to eat.

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