Have you ever wondered about the differences between beans? Does it really matter which one you choose to eat? In this article, we’ll talk about the differences in appearance, flavor, and nutrition between pinto beans vs black beans.
As a plant-based dietitian, I love talking about the healthy benefits of incorporating more beans into your diet. In fact, if I had to pick one food that I wish more people ate – it would probably be beans!
In this article, we’re going to discuss the differences between two common beans: pinto beans and black beans. Both have been a staple ingredient in Mexican and Latin American cuisine for hundreds of years.
Pinto beans are a medium-sized bean that is light brown with dark brown or red flecks. When cooked, they turn a medium-brown/pink color and lose their speckled appearance. They are named after the Spanish word for “painted” which is “pintado”.
Like most beans, pinto beans have a mild flavor that is nutty and earthy. Their mild flavor pairs well with a variety of other spices like chili, garlic, cumin, and more. Once cooked, the inside takes on a soft, creamy texture while the skin remains slightly chewy. The softer texture of pinto beans makes them a great option for dishes like refried beans. Like most bean varieties, pinto beans are thought to have originated in the Peruvian highlands of South America. They were then transferred to across the Americas and other parts of the world when used as a trade commodity.
Black beans (ie. black turtle beans) are a medium-sized bean with an oval shape that has a black skin and white interior. Even after cooking, they retain their black color.
Black beans have a rich earthy flavor that pairs well with a variety of seasonings. They retain their shape and chewy texture well even after cooking.
Both pinto and black beans are packed with nutrients like protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and folate. Here is a side-by-side comparison of the nutritional value for each.
Pinto Beans (1 cup cooked, 171 g)
Black Beans (1 cup cooked, 172 g)
Both black beans and pinto beans offer a variety of healthy benefits from fiber and protein to essential nutrients like 7 out of 8 of the B vitamins (especially folate), magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. They both provide about 15 grams of fiber per 1 cup serving, which is about half of the daily needs for fiber for both men and women. the combination of soluble and insoluble fibers support healthy gut bacteria and production of beneficial short chain fatty acids.
Both beans are a great source of protein (15 grams per 1 cup). Although they do not provide every essential amino acid to be a “complete” protein, they are still a valuable source of protein as part of a balanced diet. Black beans and pinto beans are a good source of iron. To help with iron absorption, try to consume beans with a food high in vitamin C like peppers or tomatoes.
Bottom line: Since there are no significant differences between the two in terms of nutritional content, choose the type of bean that will work best in whatever dish you are trying to make.
Yes! Black beans are a great source of plant-based protein. One cup of black beans provides 15 grams of protein.
Add flavor to black beans with garlic, onion, cumin, and smoked paprika. Brighten the flavor by adding a squeeze of lime near the end of cooking.
Yes, canned black beans are healthy! Black beans are a great source of fiber, protein, magnesium, folate, and thiamin. If you need to limit your sodium intake, look for reduced sodium or no salt added canned black beans. Draining and rinsing canned beans also helps reduce the sodium content.
Pinto beans and kidney beans are very similar but they are two different types of beans. When cooked, pinto beans tend to have a softer, creamier texture than kidney beans.
Pinto beans have a very mild flavor so they can be paired with a variety of different spices such as: chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic, onion, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika.
Now that you’ve learned about the nutritional benefits of black beans and pinto beans, how can you eat them? Luckily, there are so many low effort ways to incorporate more beans into your diet! Here are some of my favorite ways to eat them:
Here are some of my favorite recipes using black beans and pinto beans. I almost always keep a can or two of beans in my pantry since it’s such an easy way to include more fiber, protein, and nutrients into a meal.