A reader asks the following question:
“Does it matter if I use dried or canned beans?”
Please join this discussion and post your comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Here’s the answer . . .
Beans – Cost Difference
The first big difference between dried and canned beans is the cost. I’m basing this estimate on a caned organic black beans vs. dried organic black beans. A 15 oz can, after rinsing makes about 7 oz of beans for an average cost of $1.75. You can buy a pound of dried beans for $2.99, cook them down and you’ll get, on average, about 5 cans worth. $8.75 vs. $2.99 means dried beans are a much better value.
Plus, most canned goods use a BPA liner, which has been shown as a direct link to cancer. Remember when everyone got all over manufacturers to remove BPA from plastics? I guess people haven’t realized canned foods have BPA too. So, you have to spend the extra money for beans that have are BPA-free for your optimal health. (In the above equation I did use a BPA-free black bean can).
Beans – Nutritional Difference
There aren’t any really good studies regarding the nutritional difference between dried beans and canned beans. I’m guessing this is because dried beans have to be cooked while canned beans are ready-to-eat and any nutritional comparison would depend on how you cook the dried beans. It’s easy to overcook any bean and therefore have more nutrient loss. Same holds true for calories, protein, fiber content, etc. depending on the cooking method.
The George Mateljan Foundation did a small study of dried versus canned chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans). They compared 1 cup of chickpeas (boiled without salt) and one cup of canned chickpeas. Here’s what they found
Weight – Dried 164 grams Canned 240 grams
The thinking was that some of the liquid contained in the canned version was probably included in the analysis, or that the chickpeas in the canned version were slightly more saturated with water.
Calories – Dried 269 Canned 286
Protein – Dried 14.5 gr Canned 11.9 gr
Fiber – Dried 12.5 gr Canned 10.6 gr
Magnesium – Dried 79 mg Canned 70 mg
Iron – dried 4.74 mg Canned 3.24 mg
Zinc – Dried 2.51 mg Canned 2.54 mg
Folate – Dried 282 microgr Canned 161 microgr
Overall, there isn’t a big difference, in this small experiment, between dried beans and canned beans. Most notably to me is that the dried beans are about 15% higher in both protein and fiber. So, especially for people that are choosing beans as a primary protein source, dried is most likely better.
Beans – Ability to Soak
Another difference I want to mention is that canned beans have not been properly soaked so there is phytic acid present, an organic acid in which phosphorus is bound. Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block their absorption. Soaking allows enzymes, lactobacilli, and other helpful organisms to break down and neutralize phytic acid. The nutritional benefit of dried beans then is that you when you soak them overnight you can also remove much of the phytic acid. More nutrients will then be available for absorption.
Beans – Sodium Difference
Canned beans include added sodium. In one study, canned beans contained 718 milligrams of sodium and dried, cooked beans only had 11 milligrams. Obviously this makes dried preferable, but a lot of sodium from canned beans can be removed placing the beans in a strainer and rinsing thoroughly for about one minute. Since this is pretty easy to accomplish, I’m not sure sodium content really sways the verdict on beans.
Beans – The Final Analysis
I think overall dried beans are the best choice not only for price but for nutrient absorption. In my opinion it is always better to consume food in it’s most natural state without the processing created by canning. But, given all information, for a person who isn’t going to be adding beans without the convenience of canned beans, it’s a reasonable alternative (just check for BPA-free). Enjoy what works for your lifestyle and pocketbook.
Source: George Mateljan. 2007. The World’s Healthiest Foods. George Mateljan Foundation: Seattle, WA.