What Are the Benefits of Great Northern Beans?
If your recipe calls for "white beans," you have several options at your disposal. Great Northern beans are larger than navy beans, but slightly smaller and grainier-tasting than their kidney-shaped cousins, cannellini beans. With a nutty flavor, Great Northern beans go well in soups, stews, ragouts and salads and offer a host of nutritional benefits.
Great Northern beans are an excellent source of low-fat, plant-based protein, both for vegetarians and those trying to reduce their intake of meat. For 209 calories, a 1-cup serving gives you 15 grams of protein with less than a gram of fat. Like all beans, these offer significant fiber — the indigestible part of plants that helps regulate blood sugar and makes you feel full longer for better weight management. Fiber also assists with the digestive process, keeping you regular. One cup of Great Northern beans contains 12 grams of fiber, or about half of your daily needs.
Beans of all varieties contain impressive amounts of minerals, and Great Northern beans are no exception. A 1-cup serving gives you 20 percent or more of an adult’s daily needs for these minerals:
A cup also provides 10 to 12 percent of calcium, zinc and selenium. It’s vital to get a good mix of minerals in your diet for their contributions to bodily functions. Potassium, for example, helps regulate fluids in the body, while iron and zinc carry oxygen through the blood and magnesium and calcium work together to build bones.
Great Northern beans contain rich amounts of B vitamins—20 percent of your daily thiamin, and 45 percent of folate. They also supply 6 percent of your requirements for niacin and riboflavin, and 10 percent of vitamin B-6. Among other functions, the B-complex family helps your body turn food into energy. Folate is well-known for preventing birth defects; but a large study, published in JAMA in 2015, also found folate inhibits strokes among people with hypertension.
An article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2014 noted the potential of all varieties of beans, with strong anti-oxident properties, to promote good health. In particular, consumption of beans may lower LDL cholesterol levels and reduce risk of heart disease, diabetes and other metabolic disorders. The author observed that low bean consumption in North America may be due to the association between beans and intestinal gas. Techniques such as sprouting beans and discarding the soaking water before cooking help alleviate digestive discomfort. If you use canned beans for convenience, buy low-sodium brands and rinse them well before adding to recipes.