Pinto beans are a healthy choice for nearly any diet. Pinto beans are low in sodium and contain high amounts of protein, vitamin C, calcium and iron. Pinto beans are low in fat and in cholesterol. Many people wonder what place pinto beans can have in low-carb diets since they do contain carbohydrates. Nutritionists and dieters say that beans can be part of a low-carb diet anyway.
Even though one cup of uncooked pinto beans, which makes three cups of cooked beans, has almost 121 grams of carbohydrates, you aren't likely to eat that much at one meal. Serving sizes are typically much smaller, resulting in fewer carbs. More importantly, when you are considering pinto beans in your diet, look at the amount of net carbs: the total amount of carbohydrates minus the total amount of fiber in the beans. Since pinto beans are high in fiber, this makes their net carb number low. Net carbs are sometimes listed on nutrition labels, but you will usually have to figure out the number yourself. It really is as easy as subtraction: total carbohydrates (per serving) minus total fiber (per serving). A half-cup of canned pinto beans has fewer than 15 grams of net carbs, making them ideal for a low-carbohydrate side dish for your next meal. The bottom line is that you want to choose a bean that is high in fiber to offset some of the carbohydrates.
Ways to Prepare Pinto Beans
You can purchase pinto beans either dried or in a can. They are usually available year-round. If you buy dried pinto beans as part of your low-carb diet, you can fix them in several ways. Soak dry pinto beans for eight hours. Use a pressure cooker to cook them for 18 minutes. If you don't have a pressure cooker, simmer them on the stove for about two hours. Then they are ready to eat. Enjoy them with a piece of turkey or a grilled chicken breast. You can warm up canned pinto beans on the stove or in the microwave for a quicker meal.
Some people on low-carbohydrate diets use pinto beans in salad. Open a can of pinto beans and add them to your lettuce salad with low-carb dressing, and you have a balanced, healthy meal. You can also puree pinto beans and use them as a dip with low-carb vegetables such as mushrooms, cucumbers, celery or radishes.
- alexpacha/iStock/Getty Images