Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Varieties of Common Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)

Going by the names on tins of beans can get confusing... especially if buying tins from wherever... so here's a reference list (put together from Wikipedia and Suma Foods).  In my last attempt before Christmas, I used a tin of 'white kidney beans' to make meringues... it turns out that's another name for cannellini beans (so that means I'm going to boil the cannellini liquid before making meringues in the future, to destroy the lectin content).

Commons beans - Phaseolus vulgaris


Kidney Beans (kidney-shaped)


Red kidney bean - (common kidney bean, rajma (India), (Surkh=red) lobia (Pakistan))
Light speckled kidney bean
Red speckled kidney bean
White kidney bean - (cannellini, alubia, (Safaid=white) lobia (India/Pakistan))
Small kidney beans - (caparrones (La Rioja, Spain)


  • Look like kidneys (in shape and in colour)
  • Contain high amounts of phytohaemagglutinin (lectin) - which makes them more toxic than other bean varieties.  
    • Beans should be heated to boiling point for 10 minutes.
    • The US FDA recommends boiling the beans for 30 minutes to ensure all of the toxin in the beans is destroyed.
    • Cooking at 80°C (176°F) in a slow cooker, for example, can increase the amount of lectin up to 5 times.
    • Canned red kidney beans are safe to use immediately.
    • Red kidney beans contain 3 times more lectin than white kidney beans.
  • Per 100 g (red, raw) - 1.4 g fat; 44.1 g carbohydrates (incl. 15.7 g dietary fibre); 22.1 g protein.
  • Per 100 g (white, raw) - 0.9 g fat; 60.3 g carbohydrates (incl. 15.2 g dietary fibre); 23.4 g protein.

Black Turtle Beans (small, shiny)


Black beans - (frijoles negros, zaragoza, judia negra, poroto negro, caraota o habichuela negra (Spain), feijão preto (Portuguese), maa ki daal (Punjabi)).  (Not to be confused with black soya beans used in black bean sauce.)

  • Used in Punjabi cuisine, Brazil's national dish, feijoada, Cuba's Moros y Cristianos, Costa Rica & Nicaragua's gallo pinto, Venezuela's pabellón criollo.
  • Per 100 g (raw) - 0.8 g fat; 60 g carbohydrates (incl. 24.9 g dietary fibre); 23.6 g protein.

Flageolet Beans (small, light green, kidney-shaped)

  • originates from France
  • Not to be confused with cannellini/white kidney beans
  • Per 100 g (raw) - 0.5 g fat; 34 g carbohydrates (incl. 22 g dietary fibre); 10 g protein.

Haricot Beans (small, white)


Navy beans (was a staple of the US Navy), haricot, pearl haricot, white pea bean, pea bean (USA)
  • Baked beans, pies, Senate bean soup.
  • Maintain nutritive value when canned.
  • May be bush- or vine-grown.
  • High content of saponins (antibacterial, anti-fungal activity/some studies found saponins inhibit cancer growth)
  • Richest source of ferulic acid and p-coumaric acid among common beans.
  • Per 100 g (raw) - 1.2 g fat; 46.1 g carbohydrates (incl. 24.9 g dietary fibre); 21.1 g protein.

Pinto Beans

Speckled bean (pinto), frijol pinto (Spain), poroto frutilla (strawberry bean) (South America), feijão carioca (=of Rio de Janeiro) (Brazil), feijão catarino (Portugal)
  • Popular in US and Mexico as refried beans, used in burritos
  • Contains phytoestrogen - coumestrol - with a variety of health effects
  • Per 100 g (raw) - 1.2 g fat; 62.6 g carbohydrates (incl. 15.5 g dietary fibre); 21.4 g protein.

Cranberry Beans (streaked with red, magenta or black)


Borlotti bean - (Roman/romano bean (not the Italian flat, green romano bean), Catarino (Portugal))
Alubia pinta alavesa - Alavese pinto bean - red variety from originated in Basque town/municipal of Añana, N. Spain
  • First bred in Colombia as cargamanto.
  • Borlotti is an Italian cranberry bean with a thicker skin.
  • Used in Italian, Portuguese, Turkish and Greek cuisine.
  • Looks similar, but tastes different to Pinto beans.
  • Per 100 g (borlotti, raw) - 1.2 g fat; 60.5 g carbohydrates (incl. 24.7 g dietary fibre); 23.0 g protein.

Pea Beans (red-brown and white)

  • Eaten in pods like French beans.. closely related to haricot beans and French beans.
  • Eaten in the UK since the 16th century.
  • Not to be confused with: in the USA 'pea bean' = small white common beans.
  • Per 100 g (raw) - 18.6 g fat; 15.8 g carbohydrates (incl. 15.7 g dietary fibre); 35.9 g protein.

------ Other bean species --------

Greek gigantes and elefantes beans are large white beans related to the runner bean - Phaseolus coccineus.

Butter beans (Lima beans or garrofon)  are slightly larger than the common beans and are from - Phaseolus lunatus.

Soy beans are a different species from a different genus - Glycine max

Mung beans are also from a different species and genus - Vigna radiata

Adzuki (sometimes azuki, aduki) beans are from Vigna angularis

Black-eyed beans/peas (lubiya in Arabic, rubiya in Hebrew) were originally classified under Phaseolus sp. but are now accepted as Vigna unguiculata subsp. unguiculata.
Asparagus beans are Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis

Chickpeas (gram, garbanzo, Egyptian pea, ceci, cece, chana) - Cicer arietinum

Broad beans (fava bean, field bean, bell bean, tic bean, Sichuan beans) are from Vicia faba