Buying Guide to Beans

Beans are nutritious, delicious and affordable. But with so many varieties available, how do you know what to buy? This guide outlines the types of beans and helps simplify the process.

Beans 101

Beans are one of the best foods you can serve your family. Although the nutritional content varies from one type of bean to the next, they are generally high in protein and fibre, and low in fat. By using beans as an ingredient in your meals, you can prepare dishes that make your family feel full while consuming fewer calories. Beans are also inexpensive, so you'll have money left over in your shopping budget to buy other healthy foods for your family. Finally, beans are incredibly versatile. You can use them in a wide variety of dishes, from salads and soups to chilies and stews.

Types of Beans


Green Beans

Green beans, also known as string beans, consist of a green pod with small seeds inside. The pod and seeds are usually eaten together, but you can open the pods and eat only the seeds. Many people prefer to purchase green beans fresh from the produce department, but they are also available canned. A good sign of freshness is that the pods make a cracking sound when you break them in half. Green beans are a delicious addition to a meal, whether included in a larger dish such as a casserole or steamed and served as a side dish.

Kidney Beans

As the name suggests, kidney beans are shaped like a kidney. Although bland in taste they readily absorb surrounding flavours, and are a good source of folate, fiber and iron. This makes them a popular ingredient in simmered dishes. You can prepare kidney beans on their own or add them to dishes such as chili, casseroles, refried beans and salads. White-coloured kidney beans are known as cannelloni beans.

Navy Beans

Small and white in colour, navy beans are known by a variety of names, including white beans and haricot beans. Quite dense in texture, navy beans hold their shape well during cooking and are a common ingredient in baked bean dishes, soups, stews and chillies. Available canned and dried, navy beans are an excellent source of protein and fibre.

Pinto Beans

Pinto beans resemble painted canvasses, with reddish-brown hues splashed randomly on beige or brown backgrounds. In fact, the name pinto is a Spanish word meaning painted. When cooked, pinto beans turn pink in colour and have a creamy texture. Earthy in flavour, they make a tasty refried bean and are a good addition to beans-and-rice dishes, chilies, soups, and stews.

Lima Beans

Lima beans, also known as butter beans, are available in many varieties. They can be harvested in their immature stage, when they have a buttery, mushy texture, or in their mature stage, when they are dry. Lima beans are a tasty addition to soups and stews. But be careful not to overcook them as they will quickly fall apart.

Fava Beans

Fava beans, also known as broad beans, are oval-shaped and earthy in flavour, with a creamy texture. Popular in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, they are great when added to soups and pastas, ground into purees or grilled. They are also delicious when steamed and served with olive oil, salt and lemon. Before they can be eaten, fava beans must be shelled and peeled.

Bean Buying Tips:

• The best time to buy fresh green and yellow beans is from May to October
• Fresh green and yellow bean pods should be bright in colour with no bruises or brown spots
• Fresh green and yellow bean pods should make a cracking sound when snapped in half
• Dried beans should be uniform in size and colour with smooth skins
• Canned beans are more convenient than dried beans, but they also have a higher salt content

Dried Bean Storage Tips:

• Transfer your dried beans to a storage container that is food safe and has a tight-sealing lid
• Remove any damaged beans that you can see
• Place the storage container in a cool, dry place, out of the sunlight
• Eat your dried beans within a few weeks; the longer they are stored, the dryer they get, which means they take longer to soak and cook

Dried Beans vs. Canned Beans

For the most part, beans are nutritionally the same whether they are dried or canned. However, there are differences in cost, convenience and storage. Dried beans are less expensive than canned beans. But canned beans are easier to prepare as they do not require soaking. Cooking dried beans from scratch gives you more control over sodium level and flavour. Also, dry beans take up less space, so they are easier to store in your home.
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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