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Why Dried Beans Are Better Than Canned

Jennifer Pantin
by Jennifer Pantin
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Why Dried Beans Are Better Than Canned

Beans are one of the healthiest things you can eat. But canned beans may not be as healthy as you think.

Try this on for size: a standard, 3 1/2 ounce serving of boiled red kidney beans has only 2 milligrams of sodium. The same serving of canned red kidney beans has 231 milligrams of sodium — that’s almost 10% of your recommended daily sodium intake. There are other “fun” ingredients found in canned beans as well, such as calcium chloride, animal fats and sugars, which can alter beans’ nutritional value. High fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners are also commonly found in canned varieties, which drives calories up. A single serving of canned beans can have as many as 100 calories more than its dried counterpart. Probably not what you want when you open a can of a seemingly healthy food.


The simple alternative is to buy dried beans and soak them. If you aren’t already doing this, here’s why you should start:

  • Un-soaked beans can take up to 60 minutes to cook, but soaking them first cuts the cooking time by as much as 70%.
  • Soaking preserves more of the nutrients in the bean, so that you get the benefit of all the protein, vitamins and minerals, while allowing the bean to become more digestible.
  • Soaking also allows beans to slowly absorb the liquid they need to cook evenly and completely, minimizing the chance that they’ll split open or lose their skins.

Added to all that, dried beans cost significantly less than canned beans, and they’re easy to store. There are no added ingredients or concerns about toxins leaching in from the lining of the can. With dried beans, what you see is what you get: beans. Dried beans also allow you to cook the beans with other flavors and to the texture you prefer, which is especially attractive if you don’t care for mushy beans.

Sure, nothing beats the convenience of opening a can, but soaking simply takes a little pre-planning. All you have to do is soak your beans in water overnight, drain them (to reduce the gas-causing complex sugars, don’t cook them in the soaking water) and simmer them in slightly salty water until tender to the bite.

Still not convinced? Luckily, not all beans need to be soaked. The softer categories of legumes like split peas, lentils and butter beans don’t need soaking to cook evenly.

About the Author

Jennifer Pantin
Jennifer Pantin

Writer, lawyer, and healthy-eating proponent, Jennifer Pantin loves experimenting with new, healthy recipes in her Brooklyn kitchen. Her blog, Lorimer Street Kitchen, is where she shares this passion for food and the belief that healthy recipes can be good for you and delicious, too. Connect with Jennifer and Lorimer Street Kitchen on FacebookTwitter, and Google+.


15 responses to “Why Dried Beans Are Better Than Canned”

  1. Avatar zagadka314 says:

    In Europe, it is very hard to find many beans found in the US. I was so happy to find pinto beans after 3 years of searching! Unfortunately, I can only find canned pinto beans. At least I can make refried beans.

    By the way, there is no scientific reason to worry about salt…

    • Avatar ram says:

      You will find in Indian store.

      • Avatar zagadka314 says:

        I haven’t seen pinto beans at any Indian stores, but I’ll try again. I found them at an international store, but they are so expensive I can’t afford them. At least Tesco has canned beans. I want to make some American baked beans too. I’ll try to check out my local Indian store for the other beans. Thanks for the suggestion.

  2. Avatar Zoe says:

    Hey Jennifer Pantin – I read that you should not add salt whilst cooking beans but only after they were cooked or tenderness problems ensue. Why do you recommend cooking them in slightly salty water – is there a specific reason for this cooking technique?

  3. Avatar Marina Renee Moses says:

    Soaking and not salting beans are not necessary. I cook all of mine with just an hour quick soak (boil, cover, turn off water and wait) and then salting and cooking uncovered adding water when necessary. The soaking water adds flavor. I found pretty good online cooking experiments that back this up before I tried it. My beans are faster and tastier than ever before. It doesn’t give anyone more gas either. Give it a try. You’ll never look back!

  4. Avatar Tammy Stimmel says:

    Beans are loaded with lectins. So if you eat them always a good idea to pressure cook to destroy the lectins.

    • Stαrt getτɪng ℮xтгα cαsh ev℮ᴦy weeĸ۰.. Iᴛ’s ɑ great рɑгt–tiᴍe w०rᴋ ſօr αnyone܁۔. B℮ƽτ thͺnɡ aᖯoʋt it iƽ ᴛhat ᶌ௦υ cаϖ Ꮷ೦ thɪƽ joᖯ ſrom yօʋr ᴄouϲh aτ h౦me and ѕtaгᴛ gettιnᶃ frᴏм Ɩ00 to 20ഠଠ dollαrƽ eαch ɯeek ܂.܁ Ꮥtɑrτ ᴨow and һаѵe your fіrst cɑsհ aτ thе eᴨd of tһe ԝeeκ۰.܁› RU.VU/qPdoE

  5. Avatar John050 says:

    Does washing canned beans remove most of the sodium?

  6. Avatar Angela Ray says:

    I love beans! All sorts!

  7. Avatar Melanie says:

    Get an Instant Pot pressure cooker that does many other things too and you’ll never look back!

  8. Avatar Dustin Lyle Jacobs says:

    Best thing that I’ve discovered recently is to take dry beans, one part beans three parts water, toss in a crockpot on low for 4 hours, after the the time is up it’s ready to eat or blend into a hummus/dip. I can get this setup in the morning in less than 5 minutes and have it ready by lunch.

  9. Avatar Andrea says:

    I get dry beans and can them myself. That way I know exactly what is in them, and they are always ready to add to whatever I am cooking!

  10. Avatar Morgan P says:

    What about canned beans with no salt added and are packaged in cans that are BPA free?

  11. Avatar zagadka314 says:

    How will that help me in Poland? But I found some dried pinto beans! 😀

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