Nutritional Information for Kidney Beans

When most people think of potassium, they think bananas. While bananas are considered a good source of potassium, kidney beans (and most other beans) are actually a better source! One cup of kidney beans provides 742 mg (21% of RDA) of potassium, while 1 medium banana provides 422 mg (12% of RDA). The RDA just refers to the “recommend daily allowance.” It’s not that one should stop eating bananas, but perhaps start including more beans! It’s estimated that most Americans are short on potassium because the need for potassium is so high (4,700 mg of potassium per day) and the typical American diet is lacking in plant-foods that are rich in this important mineral. Surprisingly, kidney beans are also a good source of calcium! One cup provides 117 mg of calcium (12% of the RDA). 

Kidneys beans are also bursting with antioxidants and phytochemicals. Sure, they have protein and iron and calcium and fiber, but many forget that beans have antioxidants just like fruits and vegetables do and can be eaten to help prevent many chronic diseases.

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Benefits of Kidney Beans

Cancer Prevention Benefits

Compounds in kidney beans called lectins have been found to target cancer cells in vitro. These compounds appear to slow cancer growth and induce cancer cell death, known as apoptosis. Lectins in beans are often demonized because they may block some nutrient absorption and have the potential to cause intestinal disorders. However, there is more evidence to support their consumption, as legume intake has been associated with cancer risk reduction, helpful for HIV and microbial infections and may help reduce risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity. There are far more reasons to include legumes in the diet than leave them out.  

Plus, people eating more legumes have been found at lower risk for cancers of the stomach, colon, rectum, kidneys, and throat. Large studies mapping food intake in those with living with cancerous polyps in the colon have found that those eating more beans had 65% lower odds of their cancer returning. Bean may be a great food for lowering colorectal cancer risk.

Although some studies have not found a direct association with eating beans and reducing prostate cancer risk, others have found an association when looking at men eating plant-based diets that included beans. Studies show men obtaining more of their protein from plant-based sources (beans, peas, whole soy foods, lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains) may have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. Dietary patterns that have been shown to offer protection from prostate cancer include Southern foods like cornbread, grits, sweet potatoes, okra, beans, and rice.

For survivors, men with prostate cancer eating more protein from plant sources have a better chance of reducing cancer progression compared with men eating more protein from animal sources.  
Additionally, excess weight is a major risk factor for prostate cancer. Beans are low in fat and high in fiber making them a great food choice to help men lower body weight.

Men's Health Benefits

Beans have shown promising results with their ability to help lower blood pressure and inflammation. Men eating just four servings of beans per week (½ cups of cooked beans = 1 serving) for eight weeks were shown to have significant drops in proinflammatory markers and blood pressure. In a new 2016 review and meta-analysis of randomized intervention trials (the gold standard of scientific research), those eating  beans in the diet may help modestly lower weight gain. More research is needed, but one thing for certain is that eating beans doesn’t cause any weight gain. In fact, beans are so powerful they have been associated with reduced risk heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It may be due to their low glycemic response, as beans don’t cause rapid blood sugar spikes.

Dr. Dean Ornish published a landmark study in 1990 showing how a plant-based diet could actually reverse heart disease. In his trial, 82% of patients had less artery blockage. He used a low-fat, plant-based diet including moderate exercise, smoking cessation and stress management. Other trials with similar design have showed similar results. It’s becoming widespread knowledge that plant-based diets are perhaps the best kind of diet to help prevent a heart attack. Beans have even been found to help reduce overall mortality risk.

Ways to Use Kidney Beans

Add to cooked kidney beans to green leafy salads.

+ Use as the base to homemade veggie burgers or meatless- meatballs.

+ Prepare with vegetarian chili.

+ Toss together with whole grains (quinoa or brown rice) and add vegetables.

+ Add to peanut stews.

+ Use in burritos or tacos.

Resources for Kidney Beans

USDA Nutrient Database: Kidney Beans

American Institute for Cancer Research:

“Foods that Fight Cancer” from AICR: Dry Beans and Peas

Nutrition Facts:

Physicians Committee:

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