Protein in Beans & Legumes

Beans are part of the legume family, which also includes peas and lentils. While there are many different types of beans, they are all highly nutritious. Beans are a low-fat, cholesterol-free food, rich in many minerals including folic acid, iron, potassium and magnesium. They are high in  protein. Some types of beans have more protein than others, but beans for the most part are considered a high-protein food.

Beans and legumes are an inexpensive food, commonly found in diets all over the world. High in fibre, calcium, and iron. Combined with high protein whole grains like buckwheat, brown rice, millet, quinoa, and teff, beans and legumes not only make a delicious meal, but often provide the full compliment of essential amino acids needed by humans. Here is a list of beans and legumes which provide the most protein. The list is ranked by the protein to calorie ratio, that is, which bean provides the most protein per calorie. In general, the more mature a bean or legume, the more rich in protein it will be.  This information is provided as an educational visual tool.  If you eat a wide variety of foods, you will easily reach your daily requirement of protein and other vital nutrients.  For more information on how to eat visit our Daily Nutrition pages.

They are such good sources of protein that the USDA includes them in both the vegetable and protein food groups. Proteins consist of chains of amino acids and there are nine amino acids that must be obtained through your diet. Animal-based proteins contain all nine essential amino acids, which makes them complete proteins. Except for soybeans, beans are not complete proteins, but they have the amino acid lysine, which is the one usually missing from other plant proteins. Men should get 56 grams and women need 46 grams of protein daily.

Health Benefits

Except for garbanzo beans, a 1-cup serving has just 0.23 to 1.1 grams of total fat. The same portion of garbanzo beans has 4.25 grams of fat. All of the beans have 9 to 17 grams of dietary fiber. Their fiber is responsible for many of the health benefits associated with eating beans. They lower the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease because fiber helps balance blood sugar and lowers cholesterol. (Ref 7) Beans are also good sources of iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, folate and vitamin B-6. They’re naturally low in sodium, although canned beans can be quite high. Rinsing canned beans under cold water removes some of the sodium.

Good Sources

You may see the protein content of beans reported as one generic value because all beans other than soybeans have about the same amount. You can choose any bean you prefer and get at least 20 percent of your daily protein in a 1-cup serving. The average amount of protein in eight different beans -- white, adzuki, pinto, kidney, black, navy, garbanzo and lima -- is 15 grams. White beans have the most protein, with 17.42 grams in 1 cup. Lima beans are at the bottom of the list, with 1 cup containing 10.32 grams. The others have 15 to 17 grams of protein in 1 cup. 

Take a look at the charts alongside which give the protein per 100g in veggies and legumes.  Makes for interesting reading.

Note:  We do NOT make use of soybeans in any of our programs due to the worlds crop (over 80%) being Geneticaly Modified (GM)  To read more on the dangers of GM foods follow this link.

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