For the most part, canned and cooked beans are relatively comparable in their nutritional value, as dehydrated and cooked beans contain the same amount of protein, fat content, and mostly the same ingredients. However, there is one exception, and it's in favor of dried beans.
Canned beans are often stored in very salty water. This means canned beans tend to have a higher sodium content compared with dried beans, which is important to consider if you or someone in your household needs to watch their sodium intake. According to Nutrition Facts, canned beans’ sodium content can be up to 100 times that of cooked, so draining and rinsing them is absolutely vital. Doing so removes a lot of the sodium. You can also purchase low or no-added sodium varieties of canned beans.
Another concern you may have about canned beans is that the can lining may contain the chemical BPA, which has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1950s. The industrial chemical can leak from the lining and into the food during processing and storage, and research suggests a link between BPA and increased blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Thankfully, BPA-free canned beans are available on the market and they are labeled as such. In general, BPA-laced linings are much less common than they used to be.
If convenience is the main thing you’re looking for, canned beans are undoubtedly easier to prepare than dried ones. Canned beans are soaked and ready-to-eat while dried beans usually have to soak overnight before being cooked.
On the other hand, cooking with dried beans allows more control over the texture, according to Chef and restaurateur Mike Solomonov. Moreover, when you simmer your soaked dry beans, you can add aromatics like onions and garlic, as well as herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage. The uncooked beans will slowly absorb the flavors, and the dish will get a complexity that is impossible to achieve with canned beans. So while dried beans take more time and effort to prepare, if a richer and more robust taste is what you’re looking for, they are the better choice.
If saving money is your priority, dried beans are almost always cheaper than canned. Canned beans are pre-cooked and stored in water, while dried beans are dehydrated and therefore they weigh less. After soaking or boiling your dried beans in water, they will end up weighing more, so ultimately, you will get more product for a lesser price if you buy a bag of dried beans rather than a single can of beans.
The bottom line? Either way you go, dried or canned, beans are a great staple to add to a healthy diet. Both types will provide you with essential nutrients like B vitamins, iron, and potassium. In terms of cost and nutrition, dried is the better option, but if convenience is your priority, then canned is definitely easier and quicker to prepare. At the end of the day, it depends on your personal taste and specific needs.
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