Pinto Beans vs. Black Beans: Which Is The Better Bean?

Beans are a wonderful addition to the human diet for many reasons. And there are so many different varieties of beans to choose from! In this article, I’ll be comparing only two of the many types of beans: pinto beans vs black beans.

I’ll fill you in on nutritional comparisons, health benefits, culinary uses, and recipe suggestions for both of these versatile beans.

Ultimately, my goal is to help you make an informed decision about which bean is healthier (if any). 😉

Does It Really Matter?

When considering the differences between pinto beans vs black beans, you may be wondering, why does it matter? They are both beans!

And you’re absolutely right…they are both beans; legumes in fact.

Legume is a large umbrella term that includes all peas, beans, and lentils. All beans are legumes, but not all legumes are beans.

When it comes to pinto beans vs black beans, these two have subtle differences that may matter to some individuals. Because of this, it’s still important to compare them for dietary purposes, and even for taste, texture, and culinary purposes.

For starters, let’s compare appearance and texture…

Appearance– Pinto beans are lighter in color and speckled, while black beans are dark brown to black in color with a glossy finish.

Texture- Pinto beans have a more creamy texture when cooked whereas black beans are more firm and meaty.

These are just two distinct differences among these tiny, nutrient-dense legumes. Read on to get my take on how else they differ and which is my go-to bean of choice.

Nutritional Comparison of Pinto Beans vs Black Beans

Here is the nutritional breakdown of both cooked pinto beans and black beans per 1/2 cup serving size:

NutrientPinto Beans (cooked, boiled, without salt)
NDB Number: 16043
Black Beans (cooked, boiled without salt)
NDB Number: 16015
Calories122.5 calories113.5 calories
Total Fat0.3 grams0.5 grams
Saturated Fat0.1 grams0.1 grams
Carbohydrates22.4 grams20.4 grams
Protein7.7 grams7.1 grams
Fiber7.7 grams7.5 grams
Sodium0.8 milligrams0.9 milligrams
Potassium218 milligrams305 milligrams
Iron1.8 milligrams1.8 milligrams
Magnesium42.7 milligrams60 milligrams
Phosphorus125 milligrams120 milligrams
Cholesterol0 milligrams0 milligrams
Source: USDA FoodData Central

Macronutrients (protein, carbs, fat)– for each 1/2-cup serving, pinto beans are slightly higher in protein and carbohydrates when compared to black beans. However, these differences are insignificant even for those monitoring their carbohydrate or protein intake.

Micronutrients- the fiber content in each of these beans is very comparable with pinto beans having 7.7 grams of fiber and black beans having 7.5 grams of fiber per 1/2-cup serving. However, black beans do have 31% more potassium and 40% more magnesium than pinto beans.

Micronutrients with minimal to no difference include sodium, iron, phosphorus, and cholesterol. Whether you choose pinto beans or black beans, these micronutrients will be very similar.

Calories- Pinto beans are slightly higher in calories than black beans. However, this is only a small difference with pinto beans containing about 123 calories versus black beans which are about 114 calories per each 1/2-cup serving.

Expert Tip: I recommend that healthy adults consume 1-3 cups of beans or legumes each week. Even individuals with established health conditions like heart disease can benefit from eating 1/2 cup of beans daily.

Health Benefits of Pinto Beans vs Black Beans

When contemplating pinto beans vs black beans there are other health-related factors to consider as well. These include:

  • Digestive health benefits
  • Cardiovascular health benefits
  • Weight management benefits

Let’s take a closer look at each of these areas to see if one bean outshines the other.

Digestive Health Benefits

Fiber is a key nutrient for normal digestive health, including digestion, absorption, time it takes to move through the intestines, and stool formation. Pinto beans and black beans are both excellent high-fiber foods. They contain both soluble and insoluble fiber.

According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, beans, peas, and lentils are under-consumed in nearly every age group throughout the lifespan. Additionally, 90 percent of women and 97 percent of men do not meet recommended intakes for dietary fiber.

Research shows that black bean consumption helps maintain gut integrity as well as the diversity of bacteria in the gut.

Pinto beans, however, are also beneficial to gut health. Mice studies show that when fed a high-fat, high-sugar diet (which is said to mimic a Western diet), pinto beans protect the gut microbiome and improve glucose tolerance by reducing inflammation brought on by unhealthy dietary habits.

It’s also important to know that all beans produce short-chain fatty acids as you digest them. These act as prebiotics that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut!

Cardiovascular Health Benefits

Beans of all kinds can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease as well.

Studies show that consuming 1/2 cup of pinto beans daily results in significantly lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels after 8 weeks. Black beans have slightly more soluble fiber than pinto beans, therefore both types can help lower cholesterol (1).

Both pinto beans and black beans can also protect against stiffening of your arteries. Reducing arterial stiffness relaxes blood vessels, resulting in the lowered blood pressure (1, 2).

Beans of all kinds are also an incredibly heart-healthy protein source that is low in fat and sodium, and rich in potassium and other nutrients that promote heart health.

For more information on heart health, visit the blog where you’ll find educational articles OR the resources or shop sections where I have helpful websites and digital downloads just for you!

Weight Management Benefits

The fiber in pinto beans and black beans can increase the feeling of “fullness”. This may reduce your daily calorie intake leading to weight loss over time.

The soluble fiber found in beans can also aid in weight loss by preventing the absorption of fats and sugars we consume.

Furthermore, beans have a low glycemic index. Studies show that diets including lower glycemic foods (such as beans) and moderate amounts of protein can reduce your risk of obesity and the accumulation of fat around your abdomen (3, 4).

Overall, the different mechanisms of action within our bodies produced by bean consumption promote weight loss by:

  • Increasing satiety (AKA fullness)
  • Decreasing glucose and fatty acid absorption
  • Improving the gut microbiome (good bacteria in your gut)
  • Reducing insulin sensitivity

The bottom line here is that both pinto beans and black beans, along with ALL other beans and legumes, provide weight loss benefits.

Considerations When Adding More Beans

Including more beans in your daily life is beneficial however, there are a few things you need to consider before increasing the fiber in your diet.

Go Slow

It’s important to increase fiber slowly. If you currently consume only 15 grams of fiber daily, then decide to increase this amount to 30 grams daily, you may experience some unpleasant side effects. These are mainly gastrointestinal and include gas, bloating, and abdominal pain or discomfort.

Consider all other sources of fiber in your diet- whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and any fiber supplements you may be taking. If you are not meeting your daily fiber goal, adding half a cup of beans will get you closer to reaching your goal.

Increase Fluids

As you increase your intake of high-fiber beans, be sure to increase your fluid intake as well. If you do not, there is a risk of constipation.

Fluid helps fiber do its job by drawing in water to bulk up your stool and make bowel movements easier to pass.

Expert Tip: Increasing fluid intake to 1.5 to 2 liters per day while increasing fiber intake can increase stool frequency and prevent constipation.

Who Should NOT Eat Beans?

While higher fiber diets are associated with lower risk for metabolic diseases and better intestinal function, there are still circumstances in which people may have to limit fiber intake.

Since beans are high in fiber, individuals who need to follow a low-fiber diet should be careful of the amount and frequency of beans they consume.

Health conditions that may warrant a lower fiber diet include those with:

  • Recent bowel surgeries
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • History of bowel obstruction
  • Loose, watery stools or diarrhea
  • Any condition in which bowel rest is recommended

Availability of Beans

You can find both pinto beans and black beans in grocery stores and convenience stores in dried or canned varieties. Dried beans will have no other ingredients while many canned beans can have many ingredients. Canned beans with more than 3 ingredients are usually packed in a flavored or seasoned sauce.

The nutritional content will vary depending on which form you choose. Make sure you read nutrition facts labels and ingredient lists to help you make the best decision.

Below are some canned pinto beans and black beans along with their nutrition information. For recipes, I personally recommend using “no salt added” canned beans to avoid excess sodium in your diet.

Expert Tip: Choosing “Reduced Sodium” or “No Salt Added” bean varieties is an easy dietary change you can make to lower your blood pressure!

pinto beans no salt added nutrition label
Canned pinto beans with no added salt are a high-fiber, low-sodium, protein source.
black beans no salt added nutrition info
Canned black beans with no added salt are also an excellent high fiber, low sodium, protein option.

Beans and other legumes are a very healthy, cheap, and sustainable protein source that most Americans do not take advantage of.

Culinary Uses and Flavor Profiles

As mentioned above, pinto beans are softer and creamier when cooked whereas black beans are dense and meaty.

Pinto beans also have a mild and earthy flavor that is used often in Latin American and Southwestern cuisines.

The flavor profile of pinto beans makes them ideal for pairing with many spices and seasonings. Some traditional dishes using pinto beans include refried beans, soup, stews, and chili.

Here are a few easy recipes using pinto beans:

Black beans have a more meaty texture when cooked. This makes them ideal for use as a meat substitute or in burgers.

They do have a slightly sweeter taste as well after cooking. This makes them suitable for salads, soup, and as a filling for tacos and burritos.

Some countries that eat black beans more than others are South and Central America, Mexico, Spain, and the Caribbean.

Here are a few easy recipes using black beans:

As you can see, both pinto beans and black beans are quite versatile and can be used in many dishes and cuisines!

For more heart-healthy recipes, visit my RECIPES page!

pinto beans vs black beans infographic

Conclusion

When comparing pinto beans vs black beans, it’s evident that both offer numerous health benefits and culinary versatility. While there are slight differences in appearance, texture, and nutritional content, these differences are minimal and may not significantly impact overall dietary choices.

Both beans are rich in fiber, protein, and essential nutrients, promoting digestive health, cardiovascular well-being, and aiding in weight management. My opinion? Well, I believe both beans have their unique qualities that make them equally valuable in a balanced diet.

Whether you prefer the creaminess of pinto beans or the meatiness of black beans, incorporating either (or both) into your diet can contribute to a balanced and nutritious eating plan. So, whether you’re whipping up a batch of refried beans or crafting a hearty black bean stew, rest assured that both pinto beans and black beans make excellent additions to any meal!

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pinto beans vs black beans pinterest post

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