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Black beans date back over 7,000 years when they were a staple food in the diets of Central and South Americans. They have a satiny black skin and a white center. When cooked, the beans have a creamy texture with a strong, slightly sweet flavor. In addition to their high fiber and protein content, black beans are a rich source of antioxidants and provide health benefits similar to common fruits like grapes, apples and cranberries.
The source of the high concentration of antioxidants in black beans is found in the skin of the dry bean, so don't overcook the bean. Some of the healthy antioxidants and nutrients will be lost when cooking, but the antioxidant levels should still remain high. Studies show that frozen or canned beans retain similar antioxidant levels. Antioxidants destroy free radicals, which are highly active chemicals linked to heart disease, cancer and aging.
Black beans have more antioxidant activity, gram for gram, than most other beans, followed by red, brown, yellow and white beans, respectively. The darker the seed coat, the higher level of flavonoids and antioxidant activity. Black beans are also rich in protein, carbohydrates, folate, calcium, and fiber.
For centuries, black beans have been a staple food in many countries. These beans naturally lower cholesterol due to their high fiber content, and keep blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal. This makes black beans a wise choice for people with diabetes, insulin resistance, and hypoglycemia. When Black Beans are prepared with whole grains such as barley or wild rice, you have created a healthy fat-free, high quality source of protein in your diet.
In Black Bean Popular Recipes and Famous Dishes, Peggy Trowbridge Filippone provides black bean recipes used by cultures around the world. She writes that in the Latino culture, black beans have long been used in soups, stews, and chili. Black beans are the bases of many Asian dishes in the form of the fermented black bean sauce. The Brazilian national dish, feijoada, features black beans in a hearty meat stew enjoyed by most Brazilians nearly every weekend. The Cuban dish Moros y Cristianos (Moors and Christians) is a dish of black beans and rice traditionally served on New Year's Day for good luck.
Filippone writes that the Coach House restaurant in New York City, USA, is credited with expanding the popularity of black beans within the general American populace through their black bean soup, a dish that became a smashing success in America in the 1970s.
Black beans are now popular in the USA in bean salads, bean soup mixes, bean pancakes, and refried beans. So, Americans are "better late than never" in catching on to the benefits of black beans - benefits other cultures have known for centuries.
Posted June 2007 | Permanent Link
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