Why I Make Homemade Black Beans Now

May 9, 2012
Categories: Vegetarian
Beans are a health food, they provide fiber, antioxidants, and flavinoids.  Recent research has linked beans to reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, many types of cardiovascular disease, and several types of cancer.  The American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, and the American Cancer Society–all recommend legumes as a key food group for preventing disease and optimizing health.I know not everyone has time to soak and cook beans every time they make beans.  So of course, canned beans are absolutely fine occasionally.  But in general – when possible, I think people are better off choosing fresh, dried or other alternatives besides cans – because of the BPAs (Bisphenol-A).  Over 90% of Americans were found to have BPAs in our bodies in a 2004 study, the majority of our exposure to BPAs is through our diet.  BPAs were ruled safe at low levels, but there is some evidence that high levels of BPA can disrupt our hormones, especially estrogen.   BPAs could also be affecting  us by lowering the bodies ability to handle sugars – which can cause stubborn weight gain and an increase our risk of diabetes.   BPAs might also raise our risk of heart disease, and even certain cancers.  There is also some evidence pointing to health & developmental issues in babies and children as well. There is more and more research being done in this area, in fact $30 Million dollars was granted to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to study it’s effects.  So in the meantime, looking at ways to reduce our exposure to them is smart.Plus dried beans are also more economical – because 1 bag makes about 3 times the amount of beans you get from a can!It is easy to make black beans from scratch –

  • You put them in a big pot, cover them with about 6-8 cups of water (make sure there is about 2 inches of water over the beans, the expand as they soak the liquid).
  • You just  soak them overnight (or there  is also a quick soak method too).  Soaking beans also provides some health benefits – gets rid of phytic acid and tannins (which can interfere with the bio-availability of nutrients).
  • Then you will need to cook them.
  • Drain the soaking water, put in 6-8 cups of fresh water, bring it to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, cooking the beans for about 90 minutes – 2 hours.  I like to add a strip of Kombu – which is a seaweed.  It helps to cook the beans more thoroughly, and helps make them more easily digestible (causing less gas and discomfort).
  • Season them with high quality sea salt, and add herbs and spices too if you like.

What are some alternatives to canned foods – for people that want to avoid BPAs?  A lot of companies now offer soups, broths, dried beans, in paper boxes. My recommendation is when there is an alternative and you have time – then to choose the alternative, but an occasional canned food is okay.

It is not clear how long it takes for the body to get rid of the BPAs after we are exposed – it could take several days, as some of it is stored in our fat tissue.   What do BPAs do to us?  It is not 100% clear – according to the FDA, low levels are not linked to health problems.  But there is some compelling evidence that high levels of BPA can disrupt our hormones, especially estrogen.   BPAs could also be affecting  us by lowering the bodies ability to handle sugars – which can cause stubborn weight gain and an increase our risk of diabetes.   BPAs might also raise our risk of heart disease, and even certain cancers.  There is also some evidence pointing to health & developmental issues in babies and children as well. There is more and more research being done in this area, in fact $30 Miliion dollars was granted to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to study it’s effects.  So stay tuned.
Last year the Breast Cancer Fund launched a campaign called Cans Not Cancer – over 70,000 people wrote into Campbells soup to ask them to remove BPAs from their soups.  Campbells agreed to do it.  But there is no timeline or plan announced yet for when that will happen.  A lot of other companies are announcing that they will do the same – but again, this is something that takes time.  For example, a lot of Whole Foods canned foods are BPA free – but at this time, you can’t really be sure which ones.
So in the meantime, my recommendation is – when there is a BPA free alternative, to go that route –
  • When possible, opt for glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers, especially for hot food or liquids.
  • Buy broths and soups in boxes when available
  • Especially tomatoes – because they are acidic – they can leach aluminum from the cans as well.  Some companies are lining their canned tomatoes to make them healthier – but I like to buy Pomi tomatoes from the box whenever I can.
  • Do not microwave in plastic.
  • Opt for fresh produce instead of canned when possible (like fruit and veggies)
  • Avoid plastics that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 – because they may be made with BPA.
  • Use glass or look for BPA free on all baby bottles and sippy cups
  • Buy dried beans – it is more economical too.  It takes a little preparation and planning, but you end up with 3 times the amount of beans!
An occasional canned item, or plastic bottled water is probably not something to be too concerned about – but if you are drinking most of your water from plastic bottles, or eating lots of canned foods and drinks, then you could be exposing yourself to higher levels of BPAs.
Some articles about BPAs:

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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