9 Super Health Benefits of Black-eyed Beans

9 Super Health Benefits of Black-eyed Beans

Black-eyed beans, also called black-eyed peas, are some of the world’s oldest cultivated beans. They fall under the species of legumes and are cultivated in many parts of Africa, and across the world, for their edible beans. They were so named because of their creamy white colour, curved-shape and a small, black spec situated in the centre of the bean’s belly that mimics an eye. When cooked, black-eyed beans develop a firm and resilient texture, with a unique earthy, nutty and savoury flavour.

Black-eyed beans are versatile and can be used to make several dishes across West Africa including beans akara (or bean fritters), vegan beans stew and olele – a steamed bean savoury dish commonly referred to as moi moi in Nigeria. Akara is also known as acarajé in Brazil, where it is commonly sold as a street food, specifically in the Bahia region. Interestingly it was brought over to Brazil courtesy of West African slaves.

The history of black-eyed beans

Historical records show that black-eyed beans were first grown in either North or West Africa, where they have been used for human consumption for many centuries. The Greeks and Romans consumed black-eyed peas in large scale. In fact, they were staple foods in those countries. The beans spread to the new world, courtesy of Spanish explorers. They were brought to the United States by African slaves, and today, they can be found in the form of fresh, canned, dried and frozen beans. [1]

Nutritional profile of black-eyed beans

Carbohydrates make up the bulk of the micronutrients in black-eyed peas. They contain a fair amount of protein and are low in fat. They also contain a good amount of dietary fibre (a non-digestible form of carbohydrate), vitamins (A, B vitamins, C, and k), and minerals, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

   Nutritional composition of black-eyed beans (per 100g)



(immature seeds)

Cooked, boiled, without salt RDA (%)


Water (g) 77.20 70.04
Energy (kcal) 90 116
Protein (g) 2.95 7.73
Fiber, total dietary (g) 5 6.5 20
Phosphorus, P (mg) 53 156 22
Iron, Fe (mg) 1.1 2.51 19
Magnesium, Mg (mg) 51 53 15
Potassium, K (mg) 431 278 6
Calcium, Ca (mg) 126 24 2
Folate (µg) [Vitamin B9] 168 208 52
Thiamin (mg) [Vitamin B1] 0.11 0.202 18
Choline, total (mg) 32.2 9
Pantothenic acid (mg) [Vitamin B5] 0.411 8
Vitamin B-6 (mg) 0.067 0.1 8
Vitamin A, IU 817 15 1

Table source: [2] [3]

Benefits of black-eyed beans

  1. Contain valuable amount of dietary fibre

Dietary fibre is an indigestible carbohydrate, which means the body cannot break it down or assimilate it. It typically passes through the digestive system undigested. Although it’s not a nutrient, it’s an essential part of your everyday diet. It’s actually a sort of complex carbohydrate. Black-eyed beans are soluble dietary fibres, so they play a critical role in maintaining the blood sugar level balance and keeping Type 2 Diabetes at Bay. How? The human body handles fibre differently to the way other refined carbohydrates like white flour are handled. Since fibres are not digested, they pass through the digestive tract intact, as opposed to being absorbed into the blood, which means consumption of fibre laden foods will not cause your blood sugar to spike.

  1. Helps protect against cancer

Dietary fibre has long been known to fight off colon cancer cells or reduce the possibilities of developing colon cancer. Fibre’s ability to add bulk to the digestive system is cited as the reason for its colon cancer protective capabilities. This act significantly reduces the amount of time human waste passes through the colon. The waste that passes through the colon normally contains carcinogens (cancer causing substances). Therefore, the waste should be eliminated out of the colon quickly. High black-eyed beans intake, which contains a lot of dietary fibre, hastens the removal of waste from the colon, thus reducing the possibilities of the intestinal cells getting affected. On top of that, there is a kind of bacteria in the lower intestine that breaks down fibre. In the fibre breakdown process, butyrate (a kind of fatty acid that helps in the optimal functioning of the gut) is generated, which minimizes the possibilities of growth of colon and rectum tumours. [4]

  1. They are great sources of protein

Legumes are among the best protein sources in the plant kingdom. Black-eyed beans are an inexpensive major source of dietary protein, particularly in situations where the consumption of animal protein is limited by non-availability or avoided due to religious or cultural reasons. Unlike animal food sources of protein such as beef or milk, plant protein existent in legumes is hormone-free, steroid-free, and antibiotic-free.

Protein plays a significant role in the body. For example, nails and hair are largely composed of protein. Protein is also necessary for the repair of worn out tissues. In fact, a research study found that intake of enough proteins, coupled with a workout routine can reduce the ageing process. The study says that ageing is caused by slow and progressive loss of muscle mass, in conjunction with reduced strength and physical endurance. [5]

The body also needs a good supply of proteins to make enzymes, hormones and other body chemicals that are responsible for the optimal functioning of the body. Muscles, bones, skin, cartilage, and blood depend on protein to thrive.

Protein also falls into the category of macronutrients, which means the human body requires a vast amount of them to function optimally. On the other hand, micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals are required in small amounts. [6]

  1. High in vitamins

Although they are micronutrients (required in small quantities), vitamins are critical for proper growth, development and overall good health. Black-eyed beans contain both fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin A) and water-soluble vitamins (vitamin B and C). Besides being a fat-soluble vitamin, Vitamin A, also known as retinol, is a powerful antioxidant and is popularly known to aid eye health. [7]

Note, however, note that Vitamin A content in black-eyed peas reduces significantly when cooked.

  1. Contains B vitamins

Vitamin B9 (folate) is the most abundant B vitamin in black-eyed beans. In fact, black-eyed beans surpass other varieties of beans when it comes to vitamin B9 content. Specifically, a cup of cooked black-eyed beans contains approximately 208 micrograms of vitamin b9 (folate) (50 percent DV). According to research by the American Institute for Cancer Research, folate, can reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer by up to 60%. However, note that the level of folate in black-eyed peas may reduce as a result of cooking. Apart from prevention of pancreatic cancer, folate is required for making DNA, repair of body cells, amino acid metabolism, and formation of both red and white blood cells. [8]

  1. Contain moderate amount of minerals

Black-eyed beans contain moderately high amounts of minerals such as phosphorous, iron and magnesium. Magnesium, is needed in large quantities by the body. In fact, dieticians recommend at least 100 milligrams each day. Adequate consumption of magnesium contributes to improved bone health. Specifically, it helps in the metabolism and absorption of calcium into the bones. On top of that, it’s responsible for activating vitamin D in the human kidney, which is essential for healthy bones. All this leads to greater bone density, hence lowering the risk of osteoporosis. [9]

Magnesium is also vital for heart health, as it maintains the health of muscles, heart muscles included. In fact, according to the Framingham Heart Study, individuals who consumed lots of magnesium-rich foods recorded a 58% less likelihood of coronary artery calcification, as well as 34% less likelihood of abdominal artery calcification. [10]

Back-eyed peas also contain iron, an essential mineral in the body. Iron is responsible for the transportation of oxygen in the entire body. It’s actually a vital part of haemoglobin, a protein occurring in the red blood cells that helps to transport oxygen throughout the body. Lack of iron means you won’t have healthy red blood cells, and that means the body can’t get sufficient oxygen, a common cause of fatigue. Fatigue can impact cognitive function, and ability to fight off infections. Lack of iron is also the main cause of anaemia.

  1. Helps maintain blood pressure

According to the American Heart Association, consumption of food laden with potassium can help manage high blood pressure and hypertension. We tend to eat salt on a daily basis, and this increases the amount of sodium in the bloodstream, thereby negatively affecting the ability of the kidney to control the amount of fluid in your body. A lot of sodium in the bloodstream is a risk factor for high blood pressure. Potassium helps reduce the risk of high blood pressure by neutralizing the effects of sodium. That means that if you consume potassium-rich foods daily, you lose a lot of sodium through urine. On top of aiding the excretion of sodium in the body, potassium helps to minimize tension in the blood vessels wall. That further lowers the risk of high blood pressure. [11]

  1. Have low-glycemic index

Glycemic index (GI) is a metrics of how much a carbohydrate can raise your blood sugar. The lower the glycemic index, the better. The more the glycemic index, the higher the potential to raise your blood sugar. For example, white bread and white rice have a higher glycemic index, which means they will break down much faster and cause spikes in blood sugar and insulin after meals. Black-eyed beans have low glycemic index (38) when compared to glucose (100), which means they won’t be broken down and absorbed easily into the bloodstream. This helps to mitigate sugar cravings, sugar crashes, and mood swings.

  1. Helps with weight management

According to a research study published in the Journal of Nutrition, regular consumption of beans and legumes, including black-eyed beans can help you lose weight. Black-eyed peas contain soluble fibre, which helps suppress appetite. By suppressing your appetite, you’ll cut back on the intake of calories, and this can help you lose weight.

The high fibre content in black-eyed peas also beefs up your level of cholecystokinin, a hormone that works to dull your appetite. And the fact that black-eyed peas contain less fat, makes them a good choice for those wanting to lose or manage their weight.

Due to dietary induced thermogenesis (production of heat) and other factors, consumption of protein tends to increase the rate of metabolism. This helps the body burn calories during the day and while sleeping. In fact, a research study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that overfeeding with a diet laden with protein can increase the amount of calories burned by up to 260 each day. Weight management can also help keep deadly diseases, such as diabetics and heart conditions at bay. [12]

Why you should soak your beans before cooking

As well as to reduce cooking time, most people soak beans before cooking to get rid of dirt and pesticides. Beans attract a lot of dirt right from the harvesting to the time they hit the grocery stores. Some farmers also use pesticides to keep pests out of their beans. However, nutritionists recommend soaking beans before cooking to enhance digestibility. This is because the outer membrane of most beans and legumes, including black-eyed beans contain sugars known as oligosaccharides, which can pass through your stomach and small intestines undigested. When these sugars reach the large intestines, the bacteria present there breaks them down, and intestinal gas is produced in the process, leading to frequent burping, belching, flatulence, and bloating. Soaking minimizes this effect.

Soaking also neutralized the effects of Phytic acid, a compound contained in many grains and legumes that can interfere with the digestion and absorption other nutrients. Essentially, it makes it hard for the body to harness and use these nutrients. [13]


  1. http://www.cdagro.com/history/cowpeas.html
  2. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2946?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=50&offset=&sort=default&order=asc&qlookup=11191&ds=&qt=&qp=&qa=&qn=&q=&ing=.
  3. ttps://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/vitamins-minerals-how-much-should-you-take#3
  4. https://www.pcrm.org/health/cancer-resources/diet-cancer/nutrition/how-fiber-helps-protect-against-cancer
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4208946/
  6. https://www.webmd.com/men/features/benefits-protein#1
  7. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-Consumer/
  8. http://www.oncologynutrition.org/erfc/healthy-nutrition-now/folate-and-cancer/
  9. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/#en44%20
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3957229/
  11. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/MakeChangesThatMatter/How-Potassium-Can-Help-Control-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_303243_Article.jsp#
  12. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/147/3/445.abstract?sid=c0b53bd1-4cec-4178-a5cb-6031ae9711d1
  13. https://www.livestrong.com/article/386381-nutritional-benefit-of-soaking-beans-prior-to-cooking/
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