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Black Bean

The black bean is a legume that originates from Mexico and is one of the most favored beans in much of Latin America. It is a meaty textured bean with a flavor reminiscent of mushroom. Black beans are rich in nutrients and fiber and great cooked in chilies and soups.

Black Bean
The thermal nature is warming.
The flavour is .
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What it is

A black turtle bean is a small, black kidney shaped pulse, a dried legume, with a creamy colored flesh and a sweet flavor. They originate from Mexico and are particularly popular in South and Latin American food. Black beans have a meaty texture with a rich flavor that is often compared to mushrooms. Black beans hold their shape well during cooking.

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What is in it

Black beans are an excellent source of molybdenum, a very good source of fiber and folate and a good source of manganese, protein, iron phosphorus, vitamin B1 (thiamin) and magnesium. 

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What it is good for

• Strengthens the Kidneys
• Improves reproductive function
• Improves the blood
• Diuretic
• Reduces lower back pain and knee pain

Black bean Juice – See bean juices
• Improves difficulty urinating
• Reduces kidney stones
• Reduces hoarseness
• Helps stop bed wetting
• Reduces hot flashed during menopause

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When you get it

As black beans are a pulse, a dried legume, they are available all year in markets.

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Which to select

Black beans, can usually be bought packages or in bulk containers. For the freshest product buy seeds that are stored well in sealed airtight containers in markets or shops with good turnover. Be sure that there is no evidence of moisture of mold. The beans should be whole and not split. 

Canned legumes retain most of their nutritional value so unlike canned vegetables, which have lost, a lot of their goodness, using canned beans cans still a nutritious option. This will seem obvious when you consider that fresh vegetables should be cooked only lightly and so the long cooking time needed to can food will mean that the vegetables have been over cooked and will have lost most of their nutritional value. On the other hand, beans need to be cooked for a long time, so the canning process is well suited to these beans.

Why Organic
Buy only organic beans, as toxins tend to concentrate in the beans

Choose organically grown beans whenever possible. To eat organic means to live cleanly, free of pesticides and toxins. It is a conscious choice. One made in order to survive right along with the planet that sustains us. Organically grown foods do not over-run the landfills with toxic waste from their farming or subject your body to unhealthy toxins. For your health and for the planet, choose to eat organic foods. To understand more about why organic is better please read our “Why Organic?” special feature.

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Where to store

Store dried beans in a well-sealed container away from light and heat. If stored correctly they can keep well for up to 1 year. Once they have been cooked, store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator where they will keep for a few days keep for a few days.

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How to use

Wash the beans in cold water to ensure they are free of any debris and remove any damaged beans. 

For full details on preparing legumes see our Special Guide to Legume Preparation, this will guide you on reducing flatulence and reducing cooking times.

All dried legumes should be re-hydrated by soaking overnight.

Black beans are great in the kitchen particularly in some popular Latin dishes
• Black bean and chilly stir-fry
• Black Bean Soup (Panera Bread)
• Black Bean and Tortilla Bake
• Frijoles Negros (Cuban black beans)
• Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

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How much you need

To reach your health goals and become healthy the most important step is to eat a well balanced diet of food from across all the food groups. 

For an average person 
Servings per food group:
• Whole Grains (Carbohydrates):  6 – 8 
• Meat and beans (Protein):  1 – 2 
• High quality fats: 1
• Dairy:     2 – 3
• Fruit: 2
• Vegetables: 5
• Water: 6

This list is of recommended daily amount of each food group for an average person 19 to 50 years old with a low level of exercise (30minutes of less a day). If you are older you may need a little less, if you are younger, a little more and if you are very active even more food should be eaten. For more information on serving sizes see our special feature on Sizing Up A Serve.

It is important to ensure that the foods that you eat are of a high quality. The highest quality product is one that is fresh, whole and organic.

Fresh – over time the quality of nutrients degrades with their potency dying off.

Whole – many foods, particularly vegetarian foods carry a lot of their nutrients in their outer skins. So leave bran, germs and skins on the food where possible; always with grains and whenever the fruit of vegetable permits.

Organic – ensure you have the cleanest food by using only foods that are grown without pesticides, or other chemicals, in a natural way as people have in all bar the last 80 years of history. Chemical burdened foods are a modern invention designed to increase output with little regard to the health of the end user.

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Things to watch out for

Black Beans contain purines, which are broken down in the body into uric acid. Excess purines can therefore lead to excess uric acid, which in some people can cause gout, other forms of arthritis and kidney stones because of a build up of crystallized uric acid accumulating in the joints.

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The Journal of Nutrition – The American Society for Nutrition,, retrieved 02/2009.

Wikipedia, Black Beans,,  retrieved 02/2009

Prepared by the editors at Harvard Health Publications in consultation with Meir J. Stampfer, M.D., Dr.P.H., Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Vitamins and Minerals: What you need to know,  Harvard School of Public Health, 2008.

Bratman, Steven, and David Kroll. Natural Health Bible. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1999.

Paul Pitchford. Healing with whole food, North Atlantic Books, 2002.

Goldman L, Ausiello D. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders, 2004.

Norton Greenberger M.D. and Roanne Weisman, 4 Weeks to Healthy Digestion, Harvard School of Public Health. (2008)

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