Baked beans are a staple in many households, often enjoyed as a side dish or part of a hearty meal. But I’m willing to bet that most people don’t know the health benefits of baked beans!
From being a great source of plant-based protein to providing essential vitamins and minerals, there are plenty of reasons to include baked beans in your diet.
In this blog post, we will explore the surprising health benefits of baked beans and why they should be a regular addition to your meals.
So, let’s dig in and discover the many ways these little beans can positively impact your overall health.
Why Baked Beans Are a Nutritional Powerhouse
Baked beans are not just a tasty side dish, they are also a nutritional powerhouse.
The truth is, however, that the health benefits don’t come from the recipe as a whole, but from the beans used to make the recipe.
Baked beans just happen to be another delicious way to enjoy the nutritional stars that are beans!
Usually made with pinto beans, they are humble legumes that pack a punch when it comes to their health benefits.
First and foremost, they are a good source of fiber, an excellent source, actually.
They’re rich in protein, and complex carbohydrates, making them a great option for fueling your body and keeping you full. They also contain vital vitamins and minerals.
Some of the key nutrients found in baked beans include:
Protein: about 7 grams per 1/2 cup serving
Fiber: about 6 grams per 1/2 cup serving
Iron: about 8% of the recommended daily intake of iron per serving
Potassium: about 8% of the recommended daily intake of potassium per serving
Manganese: about 10% of the recommended daily intake of manganese per serving
Thiamine: about 10% of the recommended daily intake of thiamine per serving
Folate: about 23% of the recommended daily intake of folate per serving
Magnesium: about 9% of the recommended daily intake of magnesium per serving
In addition to these nutrients, baked beans also contain small amounts of other vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, vitamin K, and zinc.
They are also low in fat and cholesterol, making them a healthy and nutritious addition to any meal.
Keep in mind that these nutrient values are estimations and depend on the type of beans used in your baked beans recipe.
There’s also a lot of variation in the healthiness of different types of store-bought baked beans and even homemade recipes.
Check out my tips later in the post for how to keep your baked beans recipe on the healthier side. This way, you can enjoy all the possible benefits of adding baked beans to your diet!
Health Benefits of Baked Beans
Lowers risk of heart disease
Baked beans have a positive impact on heart health for many reasons.
These legumes are low in fat and cholesterol and high in fiber and antioxidants, all of which contribute to a decreased risk of heart disease.
The fiber in baked beans helps to lower cholesterol levels, while the antioxidants protect against the damaging effects of free radicals.
The potassium content in baked beans helps to regulate blood pressure, reducing the strain on the heart.
Keep those ingredients that are high in saturated fat out of your baked beans (like bacon) to reap these heart health benefits.
Helps Regulate Blood Sugar
Baked beans can also have a positive effect on regulating blood sugar levels.
The combination of fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates in baked beans helps slow down the digestion and absorption of sugars in the body.
This results in a more gradual release of glucose into the bloodstream, preventing spikes in blood sugar levels.
By including baked beans in your diet, you can help maintain stable blood sugar levels, which is especially beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those looking to manage their weight.
Keep in mind that your baked bean recipe can include ingredients that might negate this benefit, like loads of brown sugar.
Aids in weight management
If you’re looking to manage your weight, baked beans may be your new best friend. These little legumes may play a role in weight management. How?
Well, first of all, baked beans are low in fat and calories, making them a great option for filling up without packing on the pounds.
Secondly, their high fiber and protein content help to keep you feeling fuller for longer, reducing the temptation to overeat.
By incorporating baked beans into your meals, you can satisfy your hunger and support your weight loss goals.
Again, just make sure it’s a healthy baked beans recipe for this benefit!
Contains essential vitamins and minerals
These little legumes are a rich source of folate, iron, potassium, and magnesium.
Folate is essential for the production of red blood cells and helps prevent birth defects. Iron plays a crucial role in carrying oxygen throughout the body and preventing anemia.
Potassium is important for maintaining a healthy blood pressure, while magnesium helps with muscle function and bone health.
So by including baked beans in your diet, you can easily boost your intake of these essential vitamins and minerals and support overall health and wellbeing.
Boosts gut health
The dietary fiber in baked beans can aid in digestion and promote a healthy gut microbiome, which is crucial for overall immune health.
80% of your immune system lives in your gut, so eating foods that promote good gut health will improve your overall health.
Fiber also keeps your digestive system moving regularly, which is very important to your body’s overall health and just how you feel on a regular basis in general.
Supports bone health
Baked beans are a good source of calcium, which is essential for strong, healthy bones.
Bean consumption is great for your bones and all you need is a half cup serving per day to promote bone health.
Your daily serving can be baked beans and other varieties of bean dishes.
May reduce cancer risk
Studies have shown that the high fiber and antioxidant content in baked beans may help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.
Antioxidants can help protect against cell damage and may play a role in fighting free radicals in the body, which contributes heavily to cancer prevention.
Beans are also a good source of plant-based protein, which can help lower the risk of developing certain types of cancer associated with diets high in red and processed meats.
Beans are thought of by many to be a magical food for disease prevention and even recovery.
Tips for Keeping Your Baked Beans Recipes Healthy
Let’s face it, the baked beans most of us know and love are not the healthiest recipes.
They usually have either a high fat, salt, and or high sugar content, all of which take away from the possible health benefits we discussed above.
But the good news is, there are some ways you can make your baked beans a better addition to a healthy diet so you can reap the benefits of baked beans.
Use low-sodium beans
Canned baked beans can be high in sodium, so look for brands that offer low-sodium options. Alternatively, you can rinse the beans before using them to reduce the sodium content.
Use homemade sauce
Instead of using canned or pre-made sauces, try making your own sauce using healthy ingredients such as tomatoes, onions, garlic, and spices.
This homemade tomato sauce will help reduce the amount of added sugar and unnecessary additional ingredients like preservatives.
Add chopped vegetables such as bell peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms to the baked beans for added nutrition and flavor.
Use lean protein
Instead of using bacon or pork in your baked beans, opt for a good source of lean protein such as turkey or chicken.
You can also just leave out the meat entirely because the beans provide plenty of protein. This is ideal if you eat a plant-based or vegan diet.
Use alternative sweeteners
Many store-bought baked beans contain added sugar in the sauce. You can reduce the amount of added sugars by choosing low-sugar options. Furthermore, making your own sauce using natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup keeps sugars down.
Use whole grain bread
Serve your baked beans with whole grain bread or toast instead of white bread for added fiber and nutrients.
Make smaller portions
Baked beans can be high in calories, so instead of serving a large portion, try serving smaller portions alongside a salad or other healthy side dish.
Limit processed meats
Many baked bean recipes call for processed meats like bacon or sausage. Try using less of these or substituting with leaner protein options.
If you’re avoiding animal products, you can use meat alternatives, just look for low sodium.
Experiment with herbs and spices
Instead of relying on salt for flavor, experiment with different herbs and spices to season your baked beans.
This will add flavor without adding extra sodium or calories. Herbs and spices are also a great addition to our meals as part of a balanced diet.
Serve with a side of greens
Pair your baked beans with a side of leafy greens, like spinach or kale, for an extra boost of vitamins and minerals.
You can also mix the greens into the beans for added nutrients and texture.
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