Which Is Healthier: Pinto or Black Beans?

which is heathier pinto or black beans

I love to eat beans. But, I was trying to decide whether to use pinto beans or black beans for one of my new recipe concoctions.

So, I thought I’d research a little deeper on these beans and understand which may be the better or healthier option, and here’s what I found.

So, which is healthier pinto beans or black beans?

Overall, pinto beans are healthier and have more nutrients. Black beans are only higher in Vitamin A, saturated fatty acids, and total lipid fat.

In every other category pinto beans have much higher amounts of nutrients compared to black beans.

However, pinto beans are high in calories, so they can be a bit fattening depending on what else you eat with them, and your diet overall.

You might also be wondering what the healthiest way to prepare beans is.

So, read on below where I’ll explain which beans are better for muscle gain, and for weight loss.

As well as, detailed information about methods of preparing beans that are best for your health.

How do the nutrients in black beans and pinto beans compare?

How do the nutrients in black beans and pinto beans compare

Below, is a table that shows a side by side comparison of the nutrients found in 3.5 oz (100 grams) of black beans and pinto beans.

Properties Black beans per 3.5 oz (100 grams) Pinto beans per 3.5 oz (100 grams)
Energy (kcal) 144 341
Protein (g) 5.29 20.45
Total lipid (fat) (g) 2.2 1.14
Carbohydrate(g) 25.99 63.64
Fiber (g) 4 15.9
Sugars (g) 0 2.27
Calcium, Ca (mg) 66 91
Iron, Fe (mg) 0.32 4.09
Sodium, Na (mg) 360 11
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid  (mg) 0.5 5.5
Vitamin A (IU) 154 0
Fatty acids, total saturated (g) 0.44 0
Cholesterol (mg) 0 0

*Data provided the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)

When I first saw the data I was surprised and had to double check it.

But, it’s definitely true that pinto beans are superior across the board in nearly every nutrient.

And by quite a big margin.

Especially, when you look at:

  • Fiber
  • Energy
  • Protein
  • and Vitamin C

Where pinto beans really outshine black beans.

People who are wanting to lose weight would be better served eating black beans because they contain less calories, but more on that later.

Why do pinto beans and black beans have such different nutrient levels?

Different vegetables and fruits naturally have different amounts of nutrients because of the unique way they grow compared to one another.

For example some beans are round such as chickpeas, whereas others are bean-shaped.

I’ll use an example that will make it really clear. Imagine how different the texture of celery is compared to an avocado.

Celery is very fibrous and crunchy. Whereas avocado is thick and creamy. Avocado’s are higher in fat.

And because they’re heavier and more dense they are also more nutrient dense.

Celery on the other hand has less nutrients and it contains more water.

Now, comparing that to pinto beans and black beans. Pinto beans have a thicker and creamier texture.

Whereas black beans are lighter in texture and not as thick.

Using my celery and avocado analogy – pinto beans are more like avocado, and black beans are more likely celery.

So pinto beans have more nutrients by volume compared to the same amount of black beans.

Now, there are different ways to prepare beans, you can eat them raw, fry them, boil them, and roast them.

But, which preserves the most nutrients?

That’s the topic for the next section.

What is the healthiest way to eat beans?

What is the healthiest way to eat beans

The healthiest way to prepare beans depends on your personal taste preference.

As you may be aware beans originated in the Americans. So, you can find many traditional dishes from these regions.

For example, in Brazil a staple dish is rice and beans. Whereas in Mexico you can find black beans used in a vegetable tortilla.

Also, according to Wikipedia Native Americans invented the traditional recipe for baked beans.

But, studies have found that both drying and cooking vegetables removes the amount of nutrients they contain overall.

The links to the studies can be found here and here.

Which means that the healthiest way to prepare beans is to eat them raw, or as close to raw as possible.

However, if you’re anything like me you prefer to eat them in a chilli, or as baked beans. And don’t like the idea of eating them raw.

Also, to eat them raw you would have to grow them yourself, as most beans you buy are either pre-cooked in cans, or completely dehydrated (dry beans).

Are black beans fattening?

are black beans fattening

Compared to pinto beans black beans are way less fattening.

When bodybuilders try to put on weight they put a big emphasis on the amount of calories they eat in a given day.

For example, when they are trying to bulk (put on weight), they eat more calories. Most aim for roughly 3000 calories a day.

Depending on how quickly they are trying to put on weight.

Then when they are getting prepared for a photoshoot, or want to have really defined muscles for whatever reason, they will cut (lose fat).

When they cut they eat less calories, and put their body in a calorie deficit.

This simply means they are eating less calories that what their body uses in a day.

The only way you can tell is to eat a certain amount of calories and monitor your weight. If you’re not losing weight you’re eating too many calories.

Some people may be doing enough exercise each day to be losing weight, but simply be eating too many calories.

When compared head to head, black beans have half the amount of calories that pinto beans have.

Black beans have 144 calories per 3.5 oz (100 grams), whereas pinto beans have 341 calories per 3.5 oz (100 grams).

So, if you are trying to lose weight, or are worried about putting on weight you should definitely choose black beans over pinto beans.

According to the data gathered by Common Sense Health black beans have the lowest calories of all the beans that you can commonly find.

Other beans that have the lowest calories are:

Bean Type Calories
Black beans 70
Fava beans 70
Lima beans 70
White beans 70
Black-eyed Peas 90

The beans with the HIGHEST amount of calories are listed in the table below.

Not included in the table, however, is that pinto beans rank in the top 10 highest calorie beans.

Bean Type Calories
Soy beans 160
Kidney beans 160
Mung beans 160
Split Peas 160
Navy beans 170

The beans in the table above are the most calorie dense of the common bean varieties you can buy in stores.

For a big protein hit you can combine beans with eggs.

I recently wrote an article about whether beans and eggs good for you ?

Which you should read if you’re trying to put on weight, if you eat beans with eggs at the moment, or are thinking of trying it.

A lot of people – myself included love to eat canned beans, because they’re so easy to prepare.

However, I recently wrote an article about whether canned kidney beans are good for you, and based on my research I found that you should really only eat one meal that contains food that comes from a can in a day.

Because the material that’s used to make the can contains BPA that leaks into the food.

And if you eat too much of it in a given day, you have a higher risk of getting heart disease, and other health issues.

For example, you shouldn’t eat a beans from a can for lunch.

And then a can of tuna for dinner on the same day.

According to the advice of top nutrionists which I found when I was researched the article about kidney beans linked just above.

Anyway, that about sums it up.

In Conclusion

Pinto beans are technically healthier than black beans.

But pinto beans contain about double the amount of calories as black beans.

Which for some is a blessing, and for others it’s a curse.

Pinto beans are really good for people who have a stable weight, and people who are trying to put on weight (for example, girls and guys that lift weights at the gum).

However, if you’re trying to lose weight, when you eat beans you should use black beans or one of the other bean varieties that are low in calories for example: fava beans, lima beans, white beans, black-eyed peas, and black-eyed peas.

Chris Watson

I'm the founder of EatForLonger.Com. I'm an enthusiast researching and sharing foodstuff and lifestyle based insights. Simple food based concepts for optimising your Healthspan, nutrition and all-round well-being. I hope it inspires you to make tiny changes and add some life to your years. Read more About Me here

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