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Protein Beans Fibre plant-based Are Pre-Cooked Beans Good For You?

Pre-cooked beans (plus chickpeas or lentils), are certainly convenient, but are they as nutritious as home-cooked? And, if you do use pre-cooked beans, should you buy them in cans or tetra pak boxes, buy the organic varieties, drain the juices or not?

Here is the verdict: nutrition-wise, home-cooked beans versus pre-cooked varieties are about the same. But, sodium content of pre-cooked beans can be a hundred times that of home-cooked! Draining and rinsing the canned beans can get rid of about half the sodium, but you’re also draining and rinsing away some of the nutrition. So, I recommend when buying pre-cooked beans, get the no-salt added varieties, and keep and use that bean juice in your cooking, much like a stock, if needed.

Image of Velvet White Bean Risotto from Kimberly Parsons, The Yoga Chef

Now, having said that, there is the issue of preservatives. Pre-cooked beans are processed before packaging and therefore contain many preservatives to maintain their shelf life. Unfortunately, there is no way around these preservatives when buying pre-cooked beans, but choosing organic may remove some of the chemicals used, but not all as chemicals found in canned packaging will still leach into those beautiful organically grown beans.

BPA and BPS, (bisphenol A and bisphenol S respectively) are chemicals used in the production of soft (i.e. flexible) plastics and the linings of some metal products. These chemicals leak into the foods found in the cans and contaminate the food. Tetra Pak offers the same healthy, cost-effective, and easy-to-prepare products minus the BPA or BPS. Therefore, tetra pak packaged beans are the way to go compared to the canned bean varieties.

Bottom line: Even though home-cooked versus pre-cooked nutrient content may be similar, once you factor in the sodium, preservative and packaging chemical content of pre-cooked beans it starts to weigh the scales towards the home-cooked as the best option. But if you are going to choose a pre-cooked variety for ease and convenience, then make sure to choose the organic tetra pak box varieties. Rinse the beans well, to remove the sodium content. Let’s also remember that regardless of type or form, beans are a nutrient rich food and should be encouraged as part of any healthy diet. Eat around half a cup of beans regularly and weigh up the points discussed above to make sure you make the best choice for you, your time and budget.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE A recipe and video for a quick and easy weekday meal using organic, tetra pak cannellini beans, YOU CAN WATCH IT  here.

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