Cannellini Bean Nutrition Facts

Calories, Carbs, and Health Benefits of Cannellini Beans

When it comes to beans, there’s no shortage of options that can provide protein, fiber, and micronutrients in your diet. One such pint-sized powerhouse is the cannellini bean. This creamy white legume adds a pop of nutrition to salads and sides and brings velvety depth to soups or pastas.

Cannellini beans are popular in Italy, hence their Italian name (or their alternate name, faziola beans) and have long been used in Mediterranean cooking. Now, however, these beans are grown in many warm climates around the world. With their eggshell color and kidney shape, cannellini beans are easy to recognize, whether dried or canned, and can often be substituted for other, similar beans like great northern or baby lima.

Whether you’re trying to eat more plant-based protein or you just enjoy their taste and texture, cannellini beans are an excellent healthy choice.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1/2 cup (120g) of cannellini beans.

  • Calories: 110
  • Fat: 0.5g
  • Sodium: 340mg
  • Carbohydrates: 21g
  • Fiber: 6g
  • Sugars: 1g
  • Protein: 6g

Carbs in Cannellini Beans

As a plant food, all beans contain fairly high amounts of carbohydrates—but the good news is that, as complex carbohydrates, they’re a desirable macro that keeps you fuller longer and helps moderate blood sugar. A significant chunk of the carbs in cannellini beans is pure fiber. Of the 21g carbs in a half-cup serving, 6g are from fiber.

Fats in Cannellini Beans

Nothing to see here! Many canned cannellini bean varieties list 0g fat per half-cup, or, at the most, just 0.5g.

Protein in Cannellini Beans

Depending on the brand of cannellini beans and how they’re processed, you can expect to take in anywhere from 5 to 8g of protein in a serving. This may not be as high as some other beans, like soy, but it’s still a respectable dose.

Micronutrients in Cannellini Beans

Cannellini beans contain plenty of the valuable nutrients iron and potassium, with around 1.8mg (10% DV) and 520mg (10% DV) per half-cup, respectively. They even supply a little bit of calcium, at 20mg (2% DV), as well as some vitamin K and folate.

Unfortunately, most canned cannellini beans are processed with high amounts of sodium, so be sure to watch out for this on nutrition facts labels. Some brands contain up to 360mg sodium (15% DV). Others, however, are more moderate, or are specifically branded as low-sodium. If you’re trying to cut back on sodium, opt for a low-salt variety.

Health Benefits

Some have called beans the perfect food—and for good reason. With their impressive levels of fiber, protein, and micronutrients, cannellini beans offer a number of health benefits. Some studies suggest that beans can help lower blood pressure and blood sugar, while others have shown that their antioxidant content fights cell damage. With their iron and potassium content, cannellini beans also contribute to the body’s ability to transport oxygen, keep the heart (and other muscles) pumping, and maintain fluid balance.

Cannellini beans also fit well into many specialty diets, as they’re plant-based, low-fat, and are not a top allergen.

Common Questions

What’s the difference between cannellini beans and other white beans?

Since great northern beans, baby lima beans, navy beans, and cannellini beans are all small and white, it can be tricky to tell them all apart. You may have wondered if it really matters which variety you use in a recipe. Often, if a recipe calls for “white beans,” any of these varieties will work, especially if you’re not picky about a very specific flavor. Feel free to substitute one for another.

Technically, however, the four varieties of white beans mentioned above are distinct. Navy beans are the smallest and highest in fiber, and tend to become mushy more quickly. Great northerns come next in size, with a nuttier flavor and firmer flesh. Cannellini beans are somewhat larger and meatier than great northerns. Finally, baby lima beans, also called butterbeans, are the largest, richest, and starchiest of the white beans.

Do I need to be concerned about lectins in cannellini beans?

Lectins are proteins that have been labeled as “antinutrients,” since they block the absorption of certain nutrients. In recent years, many people have grown concerned about the content of lectins in certain foods, especially beans. A particular lectin in kidney beans called phytohaemagglutinin has been tentatively linked to gastrointestinal distress in animal studies. Cannellini beans are related to kidney beans, so some people have concluded that they shouldn’t eat them.

Consensus in the nutrition community has yet to confirm that most consumers need to worry about lectins in food. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 continue to recommend all types of beans as a healthy source of vegetable protein.

Recipes and Preparation Tips

With their mild flavor, cannellini beans are a versatile ingredient that can make their way into a surprising variety of recipes, whether rounding out a green salad, mashed in a wrap, or simmered with spices in a tempting side. They add oomph to this vegetarian Triple Tomato Pasta With Spinach and White Beans. Or try them in this unique Oven Italian Chicken Chili with Crunchy Cashews. Unlike some other, softer beans, cannellini beans retain their shape, even when cooked. If you want them to stay firm, just be sure not to overcook them.

On the other hand, cannellini beans do mash quite easily once cooked, so they can disappear smoothly into foods like hummus, dips, or pureed soups. Go bold with traditional Mediterranean flavors in this Rosemary Olive Oil White Bean Dip, or substitute them for great northern beans in a Kid-Friendly White Bean Dinner.

Allergens and Interactions

Although legumes are related to peanuts—a highly allergenic food—allergies to beans are quite rare (except for soybeans). According to Food Allergy Research & Education, having a peanut allergy does not make you more likely to have a bean allergy, so there’s no need to worry about feeding cannellini beans to a peanut-allergic child. Cannellini beans are closely related to red kidney and other beans, so if you have an allergy to any bean, ask your doctor or allergist before popping cannellini beans into your hummus or salad.

You may, of course, also find that eating beans of any type causes digestive distress or gas. Those who are extra sensitive to these side effects may want to use cannellini beans sparingly. For most people, though, these little white legumes are a delicious way to add creamy texture and plenty of nutrients without a lot of calories, fat, or additives.

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