Black Beans vs Black Soya Beans: What’s the difference?

By Hannah Whittaker RD, PGDip | Oct 12, 2023

In the world of plant-based nutrition, the debate of black beans vs black soya beans: what’s the difference? is a common topic. As a dietitian who specializes in vegan and plant-based diets for families, I get many questions about plant based protein sources. When chatting, black and soya beans come up frequently in my advice.

They both offered so many health benefits, antioxidant properties (to protect your body) and essential nutrients. Yet, they have distinct characteristics that set them apart and they are not the same. Whether you’re a curious home cook or seeking to diversify your family’s plant-based diet, unraveling the similarities and differences between these two beans can help you in making food choices for your family. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll compare black beans vs soya beans in depth. We’ll look at the nutritional content, health benefits, and how best to cook and eat both these varieties of beans. And…I’ll let you in on a secret, they’re not the same!

Diving into Black Beans 

Nutritional Powerhouse and Historical Context

Black Beans, sometimes known as black turtle beans,  caviar criolla, and frijoles negros are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. They are packed with nutrients like protein, fiber, iron, phosphorus, potassium and vitamin B complex

They have been a staple of North American diets for at least 7,000 years and are a versatile legume grown from the bean plant known as Phaseolus vulgaris. 

Cooking Black Beans; From Soaking to Savory Delights!

Black beans are often found canned or dried in supermarkets. To get all the health benefits of black beans, I’d recommend to start with dried beans rather than canned. 

  1. Soaking: Begin by rinsing the dried black beans under cold water to clean them. Then, soak them in a large bowl with plenty of water. An overnight soak is best, but if you’re short on time, a quick soak of a few hours will do. This process aids in softening the beans and can help reduce the cooking time.
  2. Rinsing: Drain and rinse the soaked beans to remove any phytates and enzyme inhibitors, these are substances that can affect the absorption of nutrients; especially iron
  3. Cooking: Place the beans in a large pot and cover them with water. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer. The beans will become tender and can take a long time to cook, around 2-3 hours. If you want to speed up the cooking process you can always put them in a pressure cooker which reduces the time to around 30 minutes! 
  4. Tasting: Check the tenderness of the beans by tasting them. They should be soft yet still hold their shape.
  5. Draining: Once cooked to your liking, drain the beans and they are ready to be added to your favorite recipes.

Black beans can be used in many different dishes. They are a popular choice for Mexican recipes like burritos, tacos, and black bean soup. They are also an excellent addition to salads, rice dishes, stews, and various dips, and you might be familiar with the famous black bean sauce found in Chinese cuisine. Black beans don’t only enrich the flavor of your food but also increase the nutritional value. 

Image of black beans and vegetables to make a black bean stew for a vegan family

What do black beans taste like?

They have a slightly sweet, nutty flavor with a mushroom-like earthy taste. Because they are slightly milder in flavor than some other bean varieties, it means they won’t overpower a dish. 

Health Benefits of Regular Black Beans;

  • Bowel Health Support: Rich in dietary fiber, black beans support healthy bowel movements, a benefit especially significant during the post-natal period when constipation can be a worry. 
  • Plant-Based Protein: A fantastic source of plant-based protein that is essential for growth and repair, especially for your little ones. 
  • Keeping Energy Levels Stable: With a low glycaemic index score, black beans release energy gradually, keeping energy levels stable throughout the day
  • Energy Release: They are rich in Pantothenic acid, a vital nutrient that supports energy release from the food. 
  • Antioxidant-Rich: Black beans boast antioxidant properties, thanks to their rich content of flavonoids, offering protection to your and your family’s body against oxidative stress.
  • Bone and Teeth Development: Contains calcium, an essential mineral contributing to the development of strong bones and teeth in growing children.

All these benefits are amazing during a plant based pregnancy

Exploring Black Soy Beans (Kuromame)

Black soy beans are a staple in most vegan diets and have grown in popularity over the last 20 years but how do they compare to black beans? Firstly they are not the same thing.

Black soybeans, also referred to as Japanese Black Beans or Kuromame, are distinct with their black exterior and contrasting white interior. In contrast, black beans have a consistent black color throughout.

How to cook black soybeans

Preparing black soybeans is a straightforward process, similar to most types of beans, including black beans. 

  1. Soaking: Begin with sorting and thoroughly rinsing the beans under cold water. Place them in a large bowl and cover with water, letting them soak overnight. This process helps in softening the beans and can reduce cooking time.
  2. Rinsing: Drain and rinse the soaked beans to remove any phytates and enzyme inhibitors, these are substances that can affect the absorption of nutrients; especially iron – the same as with black beans.
  3. Cooking: Transfer the beans to a large pot and submerge them in water. Bring the mixture to a boil before reducing the heat, and letting it simmer. Black soybeans typically become tender and ready to eat in about 1-2 hours, a bit quicker than black beans. 
  4. Tasting: Keep checking the beans and taste them regularly to check their tenderness. They should be soft while maintaining their structure. 
  5. Serving: Drain the beans once they’re cooked to your liking and add to your favorite dishes. 

What do black soybeans taste like?

Black soybeans have a milder taste than conventional soybeans, but taste-wise wise they tend to add a salty umami flavor to dishes.

You can substitute them in dishes that call for other beans, such as; baked beans, pinto beans or refried beans. Due to their low carbohydrate content, I would always suggest adding a source of carbohydrates so make sure you get a balanced meal, especially for children. This might be serving with rice or in a wrap as the base for a Mexican Chilli. 

Health Benefits of Black Soya Bean; 

  • Protein-Rich Meals – Black soybeans are a powerhouse of protein, essential for the muscle development and overall growth of vegan kids, ensuring they receive the necessary amino acids.
  • Enhanced Digestion – Packed with fiber, these beans support healthy digestion and regular bowel movements, which is essential for the entire family’s health
  • Sustained Energy – Their lower carbohydrate content ensures a balanced energy release, keeping the family active and energized without the spikes and crashes.
  • Iron Fortified – Black soya beans are a great source of plant-based iron that helps in keeping the family, especially the kids, energetic, and focused and aids in preventing iron deficiency anemia.
  • Immunity Boost – With 1.8x more antioxidant properties than yellow soybeans, black soybeans enhance the immune system, offering added defense against illnesses.
Graphic showing Health Benefits of Black Beans & Black Soya Beans

A side by side look – Black Beans vs Black Soya Beans: Nutrition & Taste

Both black and white soybeans originate from the same plant and share similar nutritional profiles, but undergo different processing methods. Manufacturers often transform white soybeans into products like tofu, soy milk, and soy sauce, while people typically consume black soya beans whole or include them in various recipes.

AspectBlack BeansBlack Soybeans
Color and TextureBlack inside and out, softer textureBlack skin, white interior, firmer texture
TasteSlightly sweet, nutty, earthy flavorMilder, with a salty umami flavor
Common Uses in CookingMexican dishes, soups, salads, dipsAsian cuisine, salads, snacks
Protein Content (per cup)Moderate protein content (15g)Higher protein content (31g)
Fiber Content (per cup)Higher fiber content (15g)Moderate fiber content (10g)
Zinc (per cup)Similar zinc levels (1.93mg)Similar Zinc Levels (1.98mg)
Vitamin C No Vitamin CContain low level of Vitamin C
B VitaminsSimilar levelsSimilar Levels
Calcium Content (per cup)Lower calcium content (46mg)Higher calcium content (175mg)
Antioxidant PropertiesRich in antioxidants1.8x more antioxidants than yellow soybeans
Iron Content (per cup)Good source of iron (3.61g)Excellent source of iron (8.84g)
IsoflavonesContains fewer isoflavonesRich in isoflavones
Glycaemic IndexLower, releases energy slowlySimilar, moderate
Cooking TimeRequires longer cooking timeReduced cooking time with pressure cooker
Culinary VersatilityMilder flavor, more versatileSpecific, unique flavor profile
DigestibilityEasily digested after soakingEasily digested after soaking
AvailabilityWidely available canned or driedMore common in specialty or Asian stores
Table for Black Beans vs Black soybeans: What’s the Difference

Conclusion: A Closer Look at the Bean Battle

As we wrap up this exploration into the Black Beans vs Black Soya Beans conversation, it’s clear that each bean variety is a star player in the world of plant-based diets. Their unique flavors and nutritional profiles make them invaluable addition to any family’s meal plan.

The beans can be adapted and used in many meals each giving a distinct taste and texture. But it’s their nutritional content that truly makes them stand out. When prepared from their dry state, both types of beans have many health benefits, becoming not just a tasty but also a nourishing addition to meals.

Just a quick tip – don’t forget to soak those dry beans overnight to minimize phytates and optimize iron absorption!

The comparison between black beans and black soya beans isn’t about choosing a winner. Both are nutritional powerhouses that can be used in many dishes.

Including both beans in your family’s diet ensures a delightful mix of flavors and a nutritional boost.

So, in the end, why choose? Incorporate both black beans and black soya beans into your weekly meal planner. Let your family enjoy the diverse tastes and nutritional benefits each has to offer.

Hannah Whittaker Dietitian Bump2baby Nutrition
Expert Pregnancy & Paediatric Dietitian at | info@bump2babynutrition.com | Website | + posts

Hannah is an Expert Registered Dietitian specialising in Vegan Family Nutrition and Cows Milk Protein Allergy. 

She is a respected figure in the field of nutrition and a captivating speaker and sought after media spokesperson being featured in esteemed publications including the Sunday Times, Independent and Huffington Post.

Credentials

  • Registered Dietitian
  • First Class Degree in Nutrition

Experience

  • Over 15 years experience working in the field of nutrition
  • Respected Media Spokesperson both in the UK & USA; quoted online, TV and in local and international news
  • Writer & Researcher, supporting the BDA and PEN Nutrition

 

 

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