Black Soybean Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Black soybeans

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Black soybeans are merely a black variety of the more common soybean. They are a rare legume native to China and used in Chinese medicine to clear toxins from the body. As with the yellow soybean, the black variety is an inexpensive, complete source of plant-based protein.

The black soybean is grown to be eaten similarly to other legumes, either dried and reconstituted in water or pre-cooked in cans. While there has been some controversy over the estrogen-like compounds in soy, scientific evidence shows that soybeans and soy products are safe and have many health benefits.

Black Soybean Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the UDSA for one 1/2 cup (130g) canned, organic black soybeans.

  • Calories: 120
  • Fat: 6g
  • Sodium: 30mg
  • Carbs: 8g
  • Fiber: 7g
  • Sugars: 1g
  • Protein: 11g

Carbs

Half a cup of canned black soybeans has 8 grams of carbohydrate, which is mostly fiber (7 grams) with a small amount of sugar. Although the exact glycemic index of black soy beans has not been calculated, it is safe to say that it is probably similar to other legumes, which have a low glycemic index. The high fiber content of these beans means that they will be digested more slowly which can reduce the rate at which blood sugar rises.

Fat

Black soybeans do contain some fat, but it is mostly healthy unsaturated fat (there is only 1 gram of saturated fat per half-cup of cooked black soybeans). Soybeans contain both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

Protein

Like many legumes, black soybeans are a good source of plant-based protein, with 11 grams in a half-cup serving. Soy is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the amino acids your body needs (many other plant proteins do not).

Vitamins and Minerals

Black soybeans are a good source of vitamin K, iron, potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, and riboflavin.

Health Benefits

Each little black soybean is packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, so consuming them can bring many health benefits. For example, soy can alleviate hot flashes and depression and may improve skin health and kidney function.

Supports Heart Health

A diet that is higher in plant-based protein sources (such as black soybeans and other legumes) is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. A 2017 study that looked specifically at legumes as a source of plant-based protein found similar evidence of lower cardiovascular disease risk. Another study, published in 2012, zeroed in on a particular isoflavone compound in soy and showed it was associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease.

Repairs Oxidative Damage

The black variety of soybean is higher in some phytonutrients, including antioxidants, than other soybeans. The only distinction between white and black soybeans is the color of the hull, so any nutritional difference will be found in the black outer shell.

Similar to blueberries and raspberries, the dark exterior of the black soybean contains antioxidants that inhibit the oxidation of other molecules. This helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and some cancers.

May Reduce Risk of Hormone-Related Cancers

Among Asian women, a childhood and adolescent diet higher in soy is associated with an approximate 30% reduction in risk of developing breast cancer. However, it should be noted that Asian women typically have a consistent intake of soy throughout their lifetime. Since the participants of this study were all Asian woman this benefit may not translate to all ethnicities.

Other research has found possible benefits of soy in other hormone-dependent cancers, such as prostate, colon, and ovarian cancers.In an research review for Today's Dietitian, authors note that soy appears to reduce the risk of breast cancer, especially when consumed early in life and when consumed as a whole food. It also appears safe for breast cancer survivors. But they note that further research is needed to determine whether soy supplementation affects cancer risk and whether soy might interact with estrogen-blocking medications.

Promotes Bone Health

There is evidence that soy isoflavones can increase bone density, which protects against osteoporosis. Soybeans also contain calcium, which is essential for bone health.

Allergies

Soy is a common allergen. If you or your child is allergic to soy, avoid black soybeans as well as other types of soybeans and soy products. Symptoms of soy allergy include vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing, hives, and, rarely, anaphylaxis.

Additionally, some people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity have reactions to soy because it is often grown in rotation with wheat crops and therefore may be cross-contaminated with gluten.

Adverse Effects

Although some people have concerns about consuming the estrogen-like compounds, or isoflavones, found in soy, research shows that they are not associated with a higher risk of breast cancer and other hormone-related cancers.If you continue to worry, discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider to get personalized advice about whether soy is a good addition to your diet.

Since the thyroid is related to hormone function, there have also been concerns about the consumption of soy isoflavones in people with thyroid conditions. Generally, unless you are consuming large quantities of soy, it does not have an adverse effect on the thyroid. However, if you have a thyroid condition, discuss your diet with your doctor.

Soybeans and other legumes (as well as all plants) contain "antinutrients," compounds that can interfere with nutrient absorption when consumed in large quantities. Soaking and cooking the beans prior to consumption reduces the effect of these compounds. An antinutritional factor typically causes no symptoms if the food containing this factor is consumed at the normal level usually present in a varied diet.

Like all soybeans, black soybeans are high in FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols), which can cause digestive symptoms in some people) unless made into tofu or consumed when they are immature (as in edamame). As a result, black soybeans are not suitable for a low-FODMAP diet.

Varieties

Black soybeans are a variety of the more familiar yellow soybeans. Like most other legumes, they are available dried and canned. And as with the more common soybean varieties, you can find (or even make) soy products such as tofu and tempeh from black soybeans.

Black soybean tea is made by roasting the beans and grinding them into a powder. Black soybeans can also be made into flour and from there into noodles. For example, black soybean spaghetti noodles have 25 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber in a 2-ounce portion of dry noodles. You can also buy protein supplements made with black soybean powder.

Storage and Food Safety

Like other dried beans, you can store dried black soybeans for months or even years (older beans don't go bad, they just take longer to cook). Store dried beans in a cool, dry, dark place. That's also the best way to store canned beans, but be sure to check the package label for expiration dates. Once cooked, store your black soybeans in the refrigerator in a tightly closed container and consume within a few days.

How to Prepare

Black soybeans can substitute for higher-carb beans such as black, navy, and pinto beans. They don't taste as soybean-like as the yellow ones do, but more like black beans. You can substitute them in dishes that call for other beans, such as baked beans, refried beans, bean soup, chili, and bean salads. 

Because of their delicate skin and silken texture, black soybeans need to be cooked a bit differently than regular beans. To avoid mushiness, soak dried black soybeans overnight and cook in salted water.

Whether you are using a pressure cooker or stovetop, when cooking black soybeans you will need to skim off the top a few times during the cooking process. After the beans have reached a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and skim off the whitish-gray foam on top. If while skimming you remove some beans, rinse them before returning them to the pot. Add some vegetable oil (and garlic and onion, if desired) before continuing to control the foaming while cooking.

If you are using a pressure cooker, cook the beans on high for 20 minutes and allow the pressure to naturally reduce for 10 to 12 minutes. If you are cooking on the stove, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours until tender, adding more water if necessary.

Recipes

Healthy Black Soybean Recipes to Try

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