Are Baked Beans as Healthy as You Think?

Baked beans go with almost every summer dish: hot dogs, burgers, fried chicken, pulled pork, Polish sausages—you name it! But as a side dish, how healthy are they? Baked beans can lower cholesterol and are packed with fiber, protein and antioxidants. In addition, baked beans contain folic acid, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and vitamin B6, which together benefit bones, cell function, blood cell production and more. That said, you do need to be careful with how much sugar and sodium you’re mixing into your beans—some packaged varieties are high in both—and keep portion sizes around 1/3 of a cup or so.

It’s better to make your own version and know what’s going into the dish. Try this recipe, which gets its flavor from molasses, dry mustard and bacon:

Bacon Baked Beans
Recipe from Mayo Clinic
Serves 12
2 cups dried navy beans, picked over, rinsed, soaked overnight and drained
4 cups water
2 bay leaves
¾ teaspoon salt
1 yellow onion, chopped
½ cup light molasses
1½ tablespoons dry mustard
3 strips of thick-cut bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
Place beans, water, bay leaves and ½ teaspoon salt in a Dutch oven (or any other large ovenproof pot that has a tight-fitting lid). Turn heat to high and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce to low, partially cover and continue to simmer until beans are softer but still somewhat firm. This will take 65 to 75 minutes. Take pot off heat and stir in onion, molasses, mustard, bacon and last ¼ teaspoon of salt. Cover, place in an oven that’s been preheated to 350 degrees and bake for up to five hours (check every now and then to stir and add hot water if the beans are getting dried out). They will be done when the beans are tender and sauce is consistency of a light syrup.
Nutritional information per serving (makes 12 servings, 1 serving = 1/3 cup): 200 calories, 4g fat, 1g saturated fat, 4g protein, 6g fiber, 197mg sodium, 4mg cholesterol

For more information on the health benefits of beans and ways to incorporate them into your next meal, check out these blogs:

Photo credit: Marcelo Trasel

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