Cannellini Bean Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

cannellini beans nutrition facts and health benefits

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Cannellini beans—also known as white kidney beans—provide a variety of nutrients and fiber while being low in fat. Whether you’re trying to eat more plant-based protein or you just enjoy their taste and texture, these white beans are a healthy choice.

Cannellini Bean Nutrition Facts

One-half cup of cannellini beans (130g) provides 110 calories, 8g of protein, 19g of carbohydrates, and 0g of fat. Cannellini beans are a good source of calcium, iron, and fiber. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for cannellini beans canned in water and sea salt.

  • Calories: 110
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 89.7mg
  • Carbohydrates: 19g
  • Fiber: 4.9g
  • Sugars: 1g
  • Protein: 8g
  • Calcium: 59.8mg
  • Iron: 3.6mg

Carbs

Cannellini beans fall in the category of complex carbohydrates. Not only do they offer a good dose of fiber, but the fiber they contain accounts for approximately one-quarter of the total carbs in a half-cup serving.

The high fiber content of beans helps you feel full. It also slows digestion, which can help prevent blood sugar spikes. A single serving of cannellini beans has a low glycemic load (under 5), meaning that it has minimal impact on blood glucose levels.

Fats

Cannellini beans contain little to no fat. That makes them a good addition to a low-fat diet if you're watching your intake of this macronutrient.

Protein

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

Vitamins and Minerals

Cannellini beans contain plenty of valuable nutrients; calcium and iron are two of the most significant. Some canned brands also contain potassium, folate, and a few additional vitamins and minerals.

However, many canned beans are processed with high amounts of sodium, so be sure to watch out for this on nutrition facts labels. Some brands have as much as 340mg of sodium (14% of the daily value) per half-cup serving.

If you’re trying to cut back on salt, opt for a low-salt variety or rinse your canned beans with water. Just draining canned beans can reduce the sodium by 36%, while draining and rinsing can reduce sodium by 41%. You can also purchase dried beans and prepare them yourself with less salt.

Calories

At roughly 110 calories per half-cup serving, cannellini beans provide about the same calorie count as black beans and navy beans. This is more than you might get in a side dish of plain veggies (minus the butter and oil) but less than if you had a side of potatoes or rice.

Summary

Cannellini beans are moderate in calories while providing protein and fiber. They also contain many healthful nutrients, like calcium and iron, making them a good addition to a balanced eating plan.

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.

Lowers Blood Sugar

Research involving people with type 2 diabetes suggests that a diet rich in legumes like cannellini beans can help lower blood sugar and overall A1C levels. This is important because individuals with this condition are responsible for as much as 95% of their own care, and diet makes a big difference.

Reduces Blood Pressure

In the same study that reported blood sugar benefits of a low-glycemic diet that includes legumes, many participants also had lower blood pressure and an overall lower cardiovascular disease risk. Other research echoes these findings.

Fights Infection and Disease

Legumes like cannellini beans are excellent sources of polyphenols—micronutrients with antioxidant properties such as protecting and repairing cells. This protective action can lower your risk of certain infections, cancers, and heart disease.

Promotes Bodily Function and Fluid Balance

With their iron and potassium content, cannellini beans also contribute to the body’s ability to perform critical functions. Among them are transporting oxygen, keeping the heart (and other muscles) pumping, and maintaining fluid balance.

Safe for Many Diets

Cannellini beans fit well into many eating plans since they are plant-based, gluten-free (depending on preparation), and low in fat. And they provide plenty of protein and fiber.

Allergies

Allergies to beans are quite rare, with the exception of soybeans. However, 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 adding them to your meals.

Though peanuts are also a legume, Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) reports that having a peanut allergy does not make you more likely to have a bean allergy.

Adverse Effects

Lectins are proteins sometimes labeled as “anti-nutrients” since they block the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals. This has led to greater concern about the lectin content of some foods, especially beans.

The nutrition community has yet to reach a consensus on whether consumers need to worry about lectins in food. The USDA's 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends all types of beans as a healthy source of vegetable protein.

One exception is if you follow a low-FODMAP diet due to Crohn's disease or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In that case, you will likely need to avoid cannellini beans and other legumes.

Even if you do not have one of these health conditions, you may 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.

Varieties

Great northern beans, baby lima beans, navy beans, and cannellini beans are all white. So, if a recipe calls for “white beans,” any of these varieties will work, especially if you’re not picky about a specific flavor. Technically, however, each one is distinct.

  • Navy beans are the smallest, highest in fiber, and tend to become mushy more quickly.
  • Great northern beans come next in size, with a nuttier flavor and firmer flesh.
  • Cannellini beans are somewhat larger and meatier than great northerns.
  • Baby lima beans—also called butterbeans—are larger, richer, and starchier.

When They're Best

You can sometimes find fresh cannellini beans (in the pod) at a farmer's market in late summer. If you purchase canned or dried beans instead, you can add these legumes to your meals any time of the year. Canned beans offer greater convenience, whereas dried beans can provide more flavor and texture.

Storage and Food Safety

Both canned and dried cannellini beans are nonperishable when stored properly (in sealed containers and away from temperature extremes). Once the can is open or you have cooked dried beans, put them in the fridge and try to use them within three or four days.

How to Prepare

Cannellini beans are popular in many Italian dishes—such as pasta e fagioli, which translates to "pasta and beans"—and have long been used in Mediterranean cooking. In many cases, they can be substituted for other, similar white beans.

This creamy legume adds a pop of nutrition to salads and sides, and velvety depth to soups or pasta. 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.

Unlike other softer beans, cannellini beans retain their shape even when cooked. (If you want them to stay firm, however, be sure not to overcook them.) They also mash quite easily once cooked, so they can disappear smoothly into foods like hummus, dips, or puréed soups.

Recipes

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