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You Ask, I Answer: Nutrient Losses in Beans

Kidney-BeansHTMy boyfriend recently bought some dry beans.

After watching him soak and cook the beans, I couldn’t believe that beans are considered good sources of anything – copper, manganese, iron, and whatever else, because they get soaked for so long, and then they’re boiled for soooo long!

I would expect for a lot of the “good stuff” to have leeched out through all of the preparation.

Can you explain why this is not the case?

– Christine Ho
(Location unknown)

Great question, Christine!

I find it a little odd that your boyfriend boiled the beans for a very long time after soaking them, since part of the reason for soaking beans is to significantly cut down on cooking time.

Another benefit to soaking (and this also applies to grains and nuts) — making nutrients more bioavailable!

Whole grains and beans contain phytates, which interfere with absorption of certain nutrients, like zinc.  Soaking significantly reduces phytate content.

FYI — that is why why sprouted whole grain breads offer more nutrition than regular whole grain breads.

While phytates are only a concern in mono-diets (diets that mainly consist of one food, as is the case in some under-developed third world communities), there certainly is no harm in soaking these foods if one has the time and desire to do so.

Soaking does not, however, reduce beans’ mineral content.

While cooking beans in boiling water does leach out some minerals, the amount is insignificant — roughly two to four percent.  Even after boiling, beans are an excellent source of many minerals.

Remember — the nutrients most affected by boiling are vitamin C as well as all B vitamins.

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One Comment

  1. Val said on February 3rd, 2010

    I buy a variety of dried beans but I never need to boil them for a long long time. If the beans are OLD, they may be tough…so it might be a good idea for Christine’s boyfriend to try buying beans where the turnover is good, if he isn’t already.

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