Beans are large seeds that belong to the family of plants called legumes, which are used for food. Many experts from public health organizations such as the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and the American Diabetes Association recommend eating legumes to prevent disease and promote health.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS), which developed the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating three cups of legumes per week (based on a 2,000-calorie diet).

This is equivalent to eating half a cup of cooked legumes daily. However, studies suggest that eating beans in greater amounts (one to two cups per day, four days a week) may be helpful for optimum health benefits.

Based on the nutrient profiles of various types of beans including black beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas, cranberry beans, Great Northern beans, garbanzo beans, navy beans, red kidney beans, and pinto beans, the USDA lists 12 key nutrients found in beans. According to the report, half a cup of cooked beans provides the following Daily Value in percentage:

  • Carbohydrates (8%)
  • Protein (14-16%)
  • Folate (23-45%)
  • Calcium (2-6%)
  • Copper (8-15%)
  • Magnesium (10-15%)
  • Manganese (19-26%)
  • Iron (11%)
  • Zinc (6-8%)
  • Selenium (8%)
  • Potassium (10%)
  • Fiber (24-36%).