Pinto beans have a beige background strewn with reddish brown splashes of color. They are like little painted canvases, a` la Jackson Pollack; hence their name “pinto,” which in Spanish means “painted.” When cooked, their colored splotches disappear, and they become a beautiful pink color.
Pinto beans are the most consumed dried bean in the United States as they are a good source of protein, are very inexpensive, and have become popular with many cultures around the world.
Several beans, including the Pinto, Kidney, Navy, and Black Beans, are referred to as “common beans” because they stem from a common bean ancestor from Peru. From there, they spread from South and Central America to Europe, Africa, and Asia through explorers and traders. Today, the largest producers of dried “common beans” are India, China, Indonesia, Brazil and the United States.
Pinto beans are a good source of protein, potassium, Vitamin B1, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, fiber and iron, as well as an excellent source of molybdenum.
They also contain other phytonutrients which have been shown to be helpful in preventing some cancers – including stomach cancer.
Shown below is a nutrient rating chart from ‘Worlds Healthiest Foods’ site. A more in-depth profile containing information on over 80 nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more can be found by clicking the link below:
1.00 cup cooked
Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%
Combine the creamy pink texture of pinto beans with a whole grain such as brown rice and you have a virtually fat-free high quality protein meal. Dried pinto beans are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins; both canned and dried pinto beans are available throughout the year.
A check of a food & fiber-content chart will show legumes leading the pack in soluble and insoluble fiber. Pinto beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. This fiber combines with bile (which contains cholesterol) to form a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that is then carried out of the body. It is also instrumental in preventing blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal. This makes these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance and/or hypoglycemia, as are most other beans. This provides a stream of steady, slow-burning energy. Insoluble fiber is a great benefit in preventing digestive disorders, such as diverticulitis and irritable bowel syndrome, by preventing constipation and increasing stool bulk. A cup of cooked pinto beans provides 62% of the recommended daily intake for fiber.
Lower Your Heart Attack Risk
The nursery rhyme about beans being good for your heart is spot-on! Researchers have found that higher legume consumption was associated with a whopping 82% reduction in heart attack risk!
Pinto Beans are also high in Folate, Magnesium, and Potassium – all heart-healthy nutrients.
Folate is especially important for lowering levels of homoscysteine – an independent risk factor for heart attack, stroke, or peripheral vascular disease. Just one cup of cooked pinto beans provides 73.5% of the recommended daily intake for folate.
Magnesium helps to improve blood flow, which in turns carries much needed nutrients and oxygen to the body. Sufficient magnesium also prevents free-radical damage after an injury to the heart. One cup of Pinto Beans provides over 21% or one-fifth of your daily needs of magnesium.
Potassium is another essential mineral needed to maintain normal blood pressure and heart function. A one-cup serving of pinto beans provides 746 mg of potassium and only 1.7 mg of sodium, making these beans an especially good choice to prevent high blood pressure and protect against atherosclerosis.
Iron, Copper, & Manganese for Energy
Pinto Beans are an excellent source of slow burning complex carbohydrates, which can increase your energy by helping to replenish your iron stores. Iron is an integral component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is part of a key enzyme system for energy production and metabolism. Unlike red meat, another source of iron, pinto beans are low in calories and virtually fat-free.
Manganese and Copper are two trace minerals that are essential to helping our bodies fight free radicals produced in the mitochondria. Copper is also necessary for an enzyme activity cross-linking collagen and elastin, both of which provide the ground substance and flexibility in blood vessels, bones and joints. Where iron is used for transporting and releasing oxygen throughout the body, without Copper the Iron cannot be utilized properly. Just one cup of pinto beans supplies 39% of the DV for manganese, 19% of the DV for copper, and 20% of the DV for iron.
Protein Power Plus
If you’re wondering how to replace red meat in your menus, become a fan of pinto beans. These hearty beans are a good source of protein, and when combined with a whole grain such as whole wheat pasta or brown rice, provide protein comparable to that of meat or dairy foods without the high calories or saturated fat found in these foods. A cup of pinto beans provides 15 grams of protein—that’s 31% of the daily value for protein.
How to Select, Store, and Prepare
Dried pinto beans are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. Whether purchasing pinto beans in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure there’s no evidence of moisture or insect damage and that beans are whole and not cracked.
Canned pinto beans can be found in many markets. Unlike canned vegetables, which have lost much of their nutritional value, there is little difference in the nutritional value of canned pinto beans and those you cook yourself. It is suggested that you look for those that do not contain extra salt or additives.
Store dried beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place where they will keep for up to 12 months. If you purchase pinto beans at different times, store them separately; they may feature varying stages of dryness and therefore will require different cooking times.
Cooked pinto beans will keep fresh in the refrigerator for about three days, if placed in a covered container.
Tips for Preparing Pinto Beans
Before washing pinto beans, spread them on a light-colored plate or cooking surface to check for small stones, debris or damaged beans. Then, place the beans in a strainer, rinsing them thoroughly under cool running water.
To shorten cooking time and make them easier to digest, pinto beans should be presoaked. This is an important step to reduce the sugars associated with causing flatulence.
There are two basic methods for presoaking. For each, start by placing the beans in a saucepan with two to three cups of water per cup of beans.
The first method is to boil the beans for two minutes, take the pan off the heat, cover and allow to stand for two hours.
The second method is to simply soak the beans in water for eight hours or overnight, placing the pan in the refrigerator so beans will not ferment.
Before cooking, regardless of method, drain the soaking liquid and rinse the beans with clean water.
Cooking Pinto Beans
Pinto Beans can be cooked either on the stovetop or in a pressure cooker.
For the stovetop method, add three cups of fresh water or broth for each cup of dried beans. The liquid should be about one to two inches above the top of the beans. Bring the beans to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, partially covering the pot. If any foam develops, simply skim it off during the simmering process. Pinto beans generally take about one to one and one-half hours to become tender using this method.
They can also be cooked in a pressure cooker where they take about one-half hour to prepare.
Regardless of cooking method, do not add any seasonings that are salty or acidic until after beans have been cooked; adding them earlier will make the beans tough and greatly increase the cooking time.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
- Use pinto beans in chili recipes in place of kidney beans.
- Blend together pinto beans with sage, oregano, garlic and black pepper for a delicious spread that can be used as a crudité dip or sandwich filling.
- Layer cooked pinto beans, chopped tomatoes and onions and shredded cheese on a tortilla. Broil in the oven until hot and cheese melts. Top with chopped avocado and cilantro.
- Add pinto beans to vegetable soups.
- Heat pinto beans together with cooked rice. Add cooked chopped vegetables such as carrots, zucchini and tomatoes. Season to taste and enjoy this simple-to-prepare one pot meal.
For an enjoyable treat, follow the link below for
Pinto Bean Blondies – YUM!