White beans are one of the many varieties of common beans domesticated in North and South America.
Several types exist, though the most common are cannellini beans, which are also called white kidney beans.
Tender, with an earthy, nutty flavor, they make a great addition to soups, stews, chilis, and other dishes.
There are several types of white beans
Although cannellini beans are the most common kind of white bean, a few others are worth mentioning.
Navy beans, also called pea beans, are small, oval-shaped white beans. They’re a little milder in flavor and most commonly used for baked beans and certain soups.
Great Northern beans are smaller than cannellini beans but larger than navy beans. Known for their delicate, nutty flavor, they’re usually added to casseroles and soups.
Baby lima beans, or butterbeans, are small with a rich, creamy texture. Like other white beans, they’re common ingredients in casseroles, soups, and stews.
As all white beans are similar in flavor, you can use them interchangeably in recipes.
Nutrients in white beans
White beans are a nutritional powerhouse, as they’re packed with fiber and protein and a good source of numerous micronutrients, including folate, magnesium, and vitamin B6.
A 1-cup (170-gram) serving of cooked white beans provides:
Protein: 17 grams
Fat: 0.6 grams
Carbs: 44 grams
Fiber: 11 grams
Copper: 55% of the Daily Value (DV)
Folate: 36% of the DV
Iron: 36% of the DV
Potassium: 21% of the DV
Thiamine: 17% of the DV
Phosphorus: 28% of the DV
Magnesium: 26% of the DV
Zinc: 22% of the DV
Calcium: 16% of the DV
Vitamin B6: 12% of the DV
Riboflavin: 6% of the DV
Selenium: 4% of the DV
As you can see, white beans are particularly rich in copper, folate, and iron.
Copper primarily aids energy production and iron metabolism, while folate is utilized in DNA synthesis. Iron has numerous important functions, including producing hemoglobin, which transports oxygen throughout your body.
What’s more, white beans are high in polyphenol antioxidants, which combat oxidative stress in your body. In turn, this may protect you against chronic illnesses, including heart disease and certain cancers.
White beans provide a good source of protein, an excellent source of fiber, and several essential nutrients.
Benefits of white beans
White beans are associated with various health benefits due to their rich nutrient content.
Loaded with protein
White beans are a good source of protein. When paired with a proper exercise regimen and nutritious diet, they can promote healthy muscle mass.
Amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, play a major role in many bodily processes, including muscle building, nutrient transport, and hormone production.
The Institute of Medicine links a daily protein intake of at least 0.36 grams per pound (0.8 grams per kg) to healthy muscle mass. That’s equal to 54 grams of protein for someone who weighs 150 pounds (68 kg).
Legumes, including white beans, can serve as one of the primary protein sources for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Yet, white beans aren’t a complete source of protein on their own, meaning that they don’t contain all nine essential amino acids your body requires.
Thus, pair them (either at the same meal or during the same day) with grains like rice, barley, corn, and wheat, which provide the other essential amino acids. Combinations of legumes and grains, such as beans and rice, are often referred to as complementary proteins.
Provide ample fiber
White beans are packed with fiber.
The daily recommendation for fiber is at least 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men, according to the Institute of Medicine.
Thus, a 1-cup (170-gram) serving of white beans — which boasts 11 grams of fiber — contains nearly half of the daily requirement for women and about a third of it for men.
High fiber diets are associated with improved digestive health and can help promote bowel regularity by increasing stool bulk and decreasing the time between bowel movements.
Additionally, beans are high in resistant starch, which is fermented in your large intestine to produce beneficial compounds called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).
In turn, SCFAs feed colon cells and play a role in the metabolism of carbs, fats, energy, and certain vitamins.
Lastly, high fiber diets may boost heart health by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol.
May promote a healthy body weight
White beans have a high nutrient density and fairly low calorie count. Combined with their high fiber and protein content, these attributes may promote a healthy body weight.
Foods high in fiber and protein have been shown to promote feelings of fullness, leaving you less likely to overeat.
Additionally, protein-rich foods are linked to reduced levels of ghrelin, a hunger hormone. Over the long term, eating protein-rich foods may naturally lead you to consume fewer calories.
Long-term research suggests that people who eat legumes regularly are 22% less likely to have obesity and 23% less likely to have excess belly fat than those who don’t eat them.