Looking for a bean to help you stay healthy? Cannellini can!
This bean may sound like a fresh pasta variety, but you’ll be glad to know cannellini beans are anything but! These Italian beans, also known as white kidney beans, have a creamy colour, fluffy texture, and mild nutty flavour when cooked.
You’ll find them in a range of Italian dishes, and they’ll jazz up any soup or salad. Keep reading to find out why you should incorporate this super bean into your diet, the health benefits it offers, and how to make them taste good.
What are cannellini beans?
Cannellini beans are usually around ½ an inch long, kidney shaped and have a tough seed coat when uncooked. They are believed to have originated in Peru and were famously cultivated by Italian immigrants living in Argentina. Later, they were taken back home where they have continued to be grown commercially to this day.
You will usually find them canned with liquid or dried for you to rehydrate at home.
Cannellini beans nutrition breakdown
Serving size: 100g of canned cannellini beans1
- Cannellini beans calories: 92
- Cannellini beans protein: 7.3g
- Fat: 0.5g
- Carbohydrates: 10.8g
- Sugar: 0.7g
- Fibre: 7.4g
What are the health benefits of cannellini beans?
From the nutritional info above, you can see that cannellini beans are packed full of fibre, protein and carbohydrates – and very little sugar, what more can you ask for?!
They also contain a concoction of vitamins and minerals like B vitamins (especially folate), vitamin E and vitamin K. Cannellini beans are also rich in iron, and contain good amounts of potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper and manganese.
Full of bean-y fibre
Cannellini beans provide you with two types of fibre: soluble and insoluble
- Soluble fibre helps you digest food slower, can help you feel fuller for longer and can improve nutrient absorption from the foods and drinks in your diet
- Insoluble fibre adds bulk to your stool, which can help your bathroom habits become more comfortable and regular.
Full of plant protein
Plant-based food is often overlooked when it comes to protein, but it shouldn’t be. Cannellini beans have a substantial protein content and can definitely help you hit your daily protein goals. From supporting healthy muscles to helping maintain healthy hair, nails and skin, protein is pretty important – and these beans can help you pack it into your diet.
You also get lots of extra vitamins, minerals and other macronutrient benefits with plant-based proteins, so you can tick multiple nutrition boxes at once – so to speak!
Can help support healthy bones
Magnesium is one of the most important minerals our bodies need to function and thrive. It plays a part in over 300 enzymatic actions in the body, including ones controlling our metabolism. Magnesium is also important for maintaining healthy bones, and cannellini beans can certainly help you get enough in your diet.
Can help you keep a healthy blood pressure
Cannellini beans are a great source of potassium, which is known to help people maintain healthier blood pressure levels.
A great source of folate
The B vitamin folate is very important for our bodies, especially if you’re pregnant and contributes to the production of amino acids – the building block for proteins.2 Cannellini beans are a great source, so if you’re watching your folate levels, it’s worth keeping some to hand in your kitchen.
Should anyone avoid eating cannellini beans?
The good thing is most of us can benefit from a little cannellini in our lives. Vegans and vegetarians in particular can utilise their plant-protein powers and act as a superb alternative to meat and fish when combined with other plant-based proteins.
Unfortunately, all beans and legumes can cause intestinal discomfort and gas in some people – we’ve all heard the ‘beans, beans, good for the heart song, right?’. So ,if you’re new to the world of beans, it’s advised you add them to your diet slowly as to try and avoid giving sensitive guts a shock
Another top tip is to opt for tinned cannellini beans with the excess water fully drained, as this should ease some of the digestive issues.
Now you have an idea on why you should be tucking into cannellini beans, let’s discuss how to do just that!
How to cook cannellini beans
In the UK, you will likely find tinned cannellini beans as well as dried ones that need to be re-hydrated before you cook with them. Here’s a method for soaking cannellini beans:
- Soak the beans in cold water for overnight or for a minimum of 12 hours
- Drain, rinse and add to a pan of water.
- Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 and ½ hours until tender.
Keep it simple with delicious herb sauces
Just like other white beans, cannellini beans make an excellent blank canvas for your favourite herbs and spices. In Tuscany, they love to cook them down in garlic, sage, rosemary, olive oil, salt, lemon and spinach.
How to make: One of the easiest ways of cooking cannellini beans is by simply adding the tinned variety or soaked dry beans into a pan with the olive oil and other ingredients and sautéing until fragrant.
You can also add dry, un-soaked beans into a boiling pan of water with the garlic and sage and simmer until the beans are creamy inside with their outer skin still intact.
Then, serve on the side of a Italian-inspired main course or with fresh, crusty bread as a starter or snack.
DIY posh beans on toast
Love beans on toast, but think you could make a meany, beany sauce yourself? Try switching classic baked beans for a homemade cannellini bean variety – they’re already very similar!
How to make: Brown some garlic and onions in a pan, before adding tinned or pre-soaked cannellini beans, tomatoes and a sprinkling of water. Add in herbs and spices of your choice – we recommend garlic, rosemary and your favourite chilli – then cook until fragrant and soft. To finish, pour over toasted and buttered bread – mm!
Cannellini bean dip
What is a plate of sliced fresh bread without something delish to dip it in? Nothing! A cannellini bean dip is a simple and healthy way to enjoy all the goodness and tastiness of this creamy and versatile bean. You can also enjoy with vegetable sticks if you want an even healthier snack.
How to make: Add cooked or tinned black beans to a little olive oil, garlic and sweet paprika to a blender with roughly 2 tbsp of water. Blend until smooth, season with salt and pepper and enjoy a good dip!
Cannellini bean stew
Cannellini beans are perfect for throwing in a stew and cooking down until they’re nice and creamy. Try subbing the beans in this meat-free sausage casserole for cannellinis for a hearty, warming meal.
We hope that’s helped to unpack the nutrient-dense goodness of cannellini beans. Enjoy experimenting with them!
Last updated: 10 September 2020