What Are the Benefits of White Kidney Beans?
A staple of Italian cuisine, white kidney beans – also known as cannellini beans – offer benefits for health as excellent sources of vegetarian protein, fiber and micronutrients. They appear to exhibit anti-inflammatory properties, too. White kidney beans are a versatile ingredient that’s easily incorporated into your salads, soups and stews.
Macronutrients in White Kidney Beans
A half-cup constitutes a serving of any type of bean, including white kidney beans. In that serving of cannellini beans, you’ll get 125 calories, 9 grams of protein, a trace of fat and 23 grams of carbs, 6 of which are from fiber.
The protein in white kidney beans provides a full 18 percent of the daily value on a 2,000-calorie diet. Your body requires protein to build and repair its tissues. While meat contains more protein than white kidney beans, diets that are higher in plant foods and lower in animal foods tend to reduce your risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
The fiber content of white kidney beans supplies 23 percent of the daily value (DV) for that nutrient. An indigestible carbohydrate, fiber in general promotes bowel health and feelings of satiety. In addition, the soluble fiber in beans reduces your body’s absorption of fat and helps lower blood cholesterol numbers.
White Kidney Beans and Micronutrients
White kidney beans contain a mix of vitamins, including small amounts of B vitamins, vitamin E and vitamin K. The most noteworthy vitamin in its arsenal is folate, a member of the B family. A half-cup of cannellini beans offers a full 18 percent of the daily value for this vitamin. You need folate to produce DNA; it’s especially important for pregnant women, to prevent birth defects in fetuses.
Minerals also figure prominently in the nutritional profile of white kidney beans. Of special note is iron, with a serving supplying 19 percent of the DV. This mineral transports oxygen from the lungs throughout the body. You need some vitamin C to help your body absorb plant-based iron, so eat white kidney beans with tomatoes or kale to reap the greatest benefits.
Potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese are also present in good amounts in white kidney beans. Potassium balances bodily fluids and helps offset your sodium intake, while magnesium and phosphorus contribute to strong bones. Many enzymes are made up, in part, of copper and manganese.
A laboratory study, the results of which appeared in the journal Food Chemistry in 2014, found that both white and red kidney beans are rich in phenols – plant compounds possessing anti-inflammatory properties that may help protect against chronic illness. The red beans, however, showed greater activity than white. Try using the two types together in chili to garner the most benefits.
White Kidney Beans in Your Diet
Eating beans can cause bloating and gas, which may make you shy away from them. Be sure you drink plenty of water when you boost your intake of any fiber-rich food like white kidney beans. In addition, sprouting beans and discarding the soaking water before cooking can reduce your GI discomfort.
White kidney beans are delicious sautéed in olive oil with garlic and chopped greens, like kale or spinach. They also make a hearty soup when cooked with vegetable broth, onion, garlic, carrots, celery and tomatoes and topped with grated Parmesan cheese. Or try them cold as a salad using chopped red onion, red pepper, parsley, olive oil and white wine vinegar.