Black Beans vs. Pinto Beans | Is One Healthier Than the Other?

Ever wondered which beans you should be using as your main ingredient for your favorite Chorizo Breakfast Bowl? Does your selection of beans really make a difference in the overall flavor profile and the nutrition content of your food? Trust us; it makes more of a difference than you know. Using different varieties of beans (read the difference between black beans and kidney beans) in your food may step up your whole cooking game with minimal effort. Even though they all hail from the same family of legumes, they provide you a vast contrast in taste, nutritional values, textures, etc. Read on to find out more about these differences in, specifically, the two most popular varieties of beans used for consumption: black beans and pinto beans. You’ll never substitute one for the other again!

Origin of Pinto Beans and Black Beans

Black Beans vs Pinto Beans

Before we answer your burning question of whether black beans are better than pinto beans, let’s dive deep into the source of these beans. 

Pinto beans go as far back as black beans as well. They originated in Peru and are now consumed widely in Mexican as well as American cuisine. Like their black bean counterparts, pinto beans also require copious amounts of sunlight with small amounts of water after germination. 

The origin of black beans can be traced back to its first widespread plantation in Central and Southern America. Presently used in Latin American cuisine, black beans have been popular for over 7000 years now. Growing black beans in your garden is an extremely easy process – just let them germinate with lots of sunlight and nitrogen fertilizer, and you’re good to enjoy those fresh beans from your own backyard.

Conclusively, not many differences in the growth, origin, and usage of pinto beans and black beans. They’re mainly sourced from the same locations and are eaten in similar cuisines. So what are the differences between black beans and pinto beans? 

Taste Difference in Black Beans and Pinto Beans

Here’s where the real differences begin. If you’ve never carefully observed the differences in the flavor profiles of black beans and pinto beans, here is a guide for both of them.

Black beans are popular for their hearty textures and their full flavor profiles. You can compare them to eating a satisfying meal at the end of a long day. Their consistency is light and crunchy and hence is not too heavy on your palette either. Black beans infuse their own flavors onto any recipe they’re used in – so you might want to consider your other ingredients with care! Black beans are also characteristic of the typical taste that you might have come to associate with all beans. 

Pinto beans, on the other hand, are creamier in taste. Their flavor is softer and more well-rounded. Their taste can be compared to a nutty snack you might be munching on. The taste is airy and perhaps less flavorful than black beans – but this only means they are immensely versatile with recipes. They lack the heartiness that black beans are characterized with but make up for it with their earthy and nutty undertones that are refreshing to the tastebuds. 

As you may be starting to see, this is only the tip of the bean iceberg so far. It all comes down to your preference here: do you prefer a specific texture, shape, or taste for your beans? Would you like them to emulate your ingredients or the other way around? More importantly, which category of beans provide you with greater nutritional value?

Differences in the Appearance of Black Beans and Pinto Beans

Appearance of Black and Pinto Beans

Moving on to how these beans look – how are you supposed to tell the difference when you go to the store to pick them up? Don’t worry; black beans and pinto beans are two categories that look wildly different, even at first glance. 

Black beans are the easiest to spot at the supermarket. Owing to their name, they look exactly like what they’re called. Often appearing as either dark brown or completely black, these beans are rather small and rounded. They have a grainy scent to them and are completely smooth to touch.

Pinto beans, on the other hand, have a rather interesting appearance. Meaning ‘painted’ in Spanish, these beans are light brown with flecks of either white or rust-brown on them. These are also extremely easy to spot, though they might be confused with similar-looking Cranberry beans. Pinto beans have a heavier scent and have light ridges on them to touch. 

With these differences in mind, you’ll no longer be idling in the supermarket aisle while wondering which beans to put in your cart. The main distinction to keep in mind is in the names themselves: black beans are mostly black, while Pinto beans appear “painted.”

Nutritional Value of Black Beans and Pinto Beans

Now for the part you’ve been waiting for: are black beans healthier than pinto beans? Let’s dive into a breakdown of the nutritional quantities present in each of these types of beans. 

The top three nutrients in black beans are carbohydrates, fibers, and proteins. Black beans are a repository of excellent nutrients for blood-sugar regulation and the maintenance of your bodily glycaemic levels. The carbohydrate content in black beans is positively insane – half a cup of black beans provides you with carbs equal to 2 slices of whole wheat bread. And these carbs aren’t fatty carbs either – they’re converted to glucose in your body, which provides you energy instead. As for fibers, like all legumes, black beans are known for their fiber content that regulates your bowel movements and may aid any digestive issues you may have. If you are newly transitioning into a vegan diet, you may face stomach issues and bloating issues. Black Beans are responsible for aiding such issues. Lastly, black beans provide you with copious amounts of protein that you will be unable to obtain from small servings of any other food. Yet, even snacking on black beans can provide you with heavy protein, and it is completely guiltless – there is little to no fat content in black beans, so you can munch on them to your heart’s content!

To compare, pinto beans are also blessed with immense carbohydrates, proteins, and antioxidants in each serving. They provide you with a powerhouse of energy to seize the day, even in small servings, and have a slightly higher protein content than black beans. They are also responsible for aiding digestive issues, owing to their high fiber content, and contain various antioxidants such as flavonoids (kaempferol) and polyphenol. What these do is, essentially, protect you against diseases especially related to the heart. The cholesterol present in the beans is also lowered if cooked a certain way and can further help with those suffering from heart issues. However, as delicious as they are, pinto beans have a higher calorie content and may contribute to weight gain if consumed in large quantities. Additionally, they also have substantially less sodium as compared to black beans. 

Recommended: Complete Blueprint to Gaining Weight as a Vegan

We understand that all this information can get a little confusing all at once. Here’s a table that helps you understand the nutritional value of black beans vs. pinto beans:

ParticularBlack BeansPinto Beans
Serving size half-cup servinghalf-cup serving
Calories109122.5
Protein 7 grams 7.5 grams 
Fat0.4 grams0.5 grams
Carbohydrates20 grams22.5 grams
Fibers8.3 gram7.5 grams

Protein Content in Black Beans vs. Pinto Beans

The protein content in black beans and pinto beans is quite similar. One serving of black beans, or half a cup of black beans, have approximately 7g of protein – while one serving of pinto beans contains 6g of protein. The average half cup of serving maybe 100g approximately. 

Hence, both these categories of beans have immense amounts of protein that have a negligible difference between them.

The main amino acids profile for black beans and pinto beans per 100g is as follows:

Name Black Beans Pinto Beans
per 100 g serving per 100 g serving 
Isoleucine19.6%21.3%
Valine18.6%20.8%
Threonine15.5%13.8%
Leucine15.4%16.6%
Lysine14.8%15.4%
Tryptophan13.1%13.5%
Histidine11.8%11.8%
Phenylalanine10.9%12.1%

Our Verdict: Are Black Beans Healthier than Pinto Beans? 

From the overall comparison, black beans might be the healthier option for you than pinto beans. Rich in protein, carbs, and lower calorie content than pinto beans, black beans are the newest delicious substitute for healthy foods that you agonize over. However, there might be specific situations that call for the consumption of pinto beans. If you dislike the fuller flavor profile that black beans provide and can afford to let a few calories go, you might find yourself picking pinto beans instead.

As always, it completely depends upon your nutritional needs and your tastebuds. One thing you might want to take away, however, is you should seriously consider adding beans to your daily dietary requirements. Soaking them overnight, prepping them with some seasoning, and voila! You have a healthy cup of nutrition that you can replace your Brussels sprouts with while still retaining all those carbs, proteins, vitamins, and amino acids that you may be missing. So what’s your choice: pinto beans or black beans?

My life literally revolves around optimum health and sustainable living by being a devotional vegan. My mission is to create a community of like minded vegans to go forth in creating a better and brighter world for humans, animals and the planet. Just like Gandhi once said: “The greatness of a nation and it’s moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Gandhi

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