In many dishes, red kidney beans and white kidney beans – also known as cannellini beans – are used. They are a good source of dietary fiber and are considered a source of protein. In addition to being low in fat and saturated fat, they are high in other nutrients such as calcium, iron, zinc, folate, and potassium.
Nutrition of Kidney Beans
Beans and peas are mature legumes, which are a source of nutritional value and fiber. According to North Dakota State University, legumes include kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), split peas, and lentils. Beans are usually available in canned or dried form, and sometimes in frozen form as well. Beans are good sources of fiber, folate, iron, zinc, and potassium, and also contain a high content of plant protein.
As a subgroup within the vegetable group, beans also fall under the group of protein foods, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Beans can therefore be considered either a vegetable or a protein in your diet. As a vegetarian mainstay, they are recommended for consumption as part of a balanced diet regardless of whether you eat meat.
It is reported by the USDA that 1/4 cup of cooked beans (such as black, kidney, pinto or white beans) contains about 1 ounce of protein. According to the USDA, protein intake varies according to age, gender, and level of physical activity.
Red Beans vs. White Beans
Red kidney beans are easily recognizable by their deep red color, and are marketed as “kidney beans.” White kidney beans are sold as cannellini beans, but there are other varieties available, including great northern (smaller than cannellini) and navy beans.
The outer skin of dried red kidney beans contains toxins that become harmless after they are cooked. They should be soaked and then boiled until tender. (Canned beans are already cooked and are safe to eat.)
Red beans and white beans have negligible differences in terms of nutritional value. In half a cup of cooked red kidney beans without salt, there are 112 calories, less than 0.4 grams of fat, and less than 0.1 grams of saturated fat. The same serving has no trans fat, no cholesterol, 20.2 grams of carbohydrates, 6.5 grams of fiber, and 7.7 grams of protein.
Cooked white beans without added salt have 104 calories, less than 0.4 grams of fat, and less than 0.1 grams of saturated fat per half cup serving. This serving contains no trans fat, no cholesterol, 18.7 grams of carbohydrates, 6.2 grams of fiber, and 7.4 grams of protein.
A Guide to Eating Kidney Beans
Harvard Health notes that you can buy dried red or white kidney beans. Soak them overnight or for at least eight hours before draining the water. Add the beans to a pot with water, bring to a boil, then lower the temperature and cook until slightly tender. Salt can be added later in the cooking process if desired. While the beans are boiling, you may need to skim off any foam generated.
Incorporate the beans into your cooking once they’re cooked – or if you’re using canned beans, drain and rinse them first before using them. Cannellini beans are delicious additions to soups, whether in their whole form or pureed into a vegetable base to add creaminess and substance, or for adding heft to pasta dishes. You can substitute cannellini beans for chickpeas in a hummus recipe for a slightly different taste.
Beans and rice and other dishes with red kidney beans are always on the menu. (You could also make red beans and rice with white beans.) Mix red, white and black beans for a hearty vegetarian chili. You can also find kidney beans in vegetable soups, bean salads, and other main dishes. If you would like more options of beans for chili, you can find them in a guide we have compiled.