Pinto Beans – The Beans for Gut Health and Digestion

Mehak Shah

July 23, 2022

The name ‘Pinto’ comes from the Spanish translation of the word paint. The beans have designs on them, making them seem as if it’s been painted. The beans were considered a staple food item at one point in time in the Southern United States, especially during the winter season. In fact, in rural areas, churches and organisations still organise “pinto bean suppers” for social gatherings and charitable and fundraising activities. These beans are so prevalent in Mexico that they have a festival dedicated to them yearly. 

Pinto Beans: An Introduction

Pinto beans are a variant of common beans, considered one of the most popularly grown bean crops in the Southwest United States of America and Northern Mexico. The bean is known as ‘Poroto Frutilla’ (strawberry bean) in South America, ‘feijão carioca’ in Brazil, and ‘feijão Catarino’ in Portugal. They are a part of the beans family, including green beans, kidney beans, red beans, and wax beans.

Pinto beans are high in complex fibre, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. The beans also have a low-fat percentage, making them a natural source of low-fat food, and the beans are an excellent vegetarian source of protein.

People often use dried beans in Mexican cuisines, making them nutrient-rich. They are popularly utilised as filling in tostadas, burritos, or tacos or as an entree served with a side of tortilla or sopaipilla. 

Nutritional Properties of Pinto Beans

As per USDA, around 100 grams of Pinto Beans serving contains:

  • Calories: 347 kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 62.6 g
  • Fat: 1.23 g
  • Protein: 21.4 g 
  • Fibre: 15.5 g
  • Sugar: 2.11 g
  • Water: 11.3 g

Vitamins and Minerals

Pinto Beans also contain a good amount of vitamins and minerals:

  • Potassium: 1390 mg
  • Phosphorus: 411 mg
  • Magnesium: 176 mg
  • Calcium: 113 mg
  • Iron: 5.07 mg
  • Vitamin B-6: 0.474 mg
  • Folate: 525 mg

Nutrition Facts

Pinto beans are a good source of complex carbs. Carbohydrates in the form of starch provide immediate energy to the body. The natural sugar content of pinto beans is only 2.11 grams.

These beans are also high in fibre~41%, help control blood sugar, lower cholesterol, boost appetite, and promote digestive health. 

Pinto beans have a GI of around 39; are considered low glycemic. Pinto beans have a glycemic load of only 10. Blood glucose response is unaffected by a glycemic load of less than 10. These beans contain negligible fat, making them a naturally fat-free food. Foods like these beans , which naturally give good nutrients and little to no fat, are great for any diet for weight loss or healthy weight maintenance. However, many processed pinto beans may include extra fat.

Pinto beans provide 38% of the daily protein requirements. As a result, many vegans and vegetarians supplement their protein intake with pinto beans and other forms of legumes. On the other hand, Pinto beans aren’t regarded as a whole protein source. You’ll need to eat whole grains, nuts, or seeds to receive all essential amino acids during a day on a plant-based diet.

Pinto beans are rich in vitamins, minerals, protein, and fibre. Specifically, the potassium value of pinto beans is 1393 mg (30% of daily intake). Potassium electrolyte is found in cells and body fluids and counteracts sodium’s adverse effects on the heart and blood pressure.

The HealthifyMe Note

Pinto beans are full of nutrients. It contains folate that assists in synthesising red blood cells and prevents neural tube defects in babies. Foods rich in potassium significantly lowers blood pressure because potassium reduces the effects of sodium. It is also a good source of complex carbohydrates, fibre, and protein. Pinto beans have a very low-fat content. These beans are a great meat substitute.

Health Benefits of Pinto Beans

Carbs, fibre, and protein are the main components of pinto beans and have a high vitamin and mineral content. Pinto beans are a great source of protein, making them an excellent choice for a healthy, protein-rich vegetarian diet. Also, the high amounts of complex fibre make it a fantastic food for better digestion and gut health. 

Improves Gut Health Function

According to a study, Pinto beans have a high amount of fibre. Fibre is a non-digestible carbohydrate present in plants. It’s essential for digestive health since it feeds the healthy bacteria in your stomach. A good digestive and bowel movement has multiple health benefits. For example, it reduces bloating, improves skin health, and helps reduce the risk of diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and some heart issues.

Low amounts of fibre in the food can make digestion difficult, and studies have shown that a lack of fibre can lead to indigestion, constipation, and bloating. Hence, a fibre-rich diet is crucial for a healthier body. 

Great Protein Source

Pinto beans are an excellent vegetarian and vegan option because of their high protein and iron content. It is also an excellent source for non-vegetarians looking for a way to replace red meat in their diet. They deliver protein comparable to meat or dairy meals without excessive calories or saturated fat when coupled with a complete grain like whole-wheat pasta or brown rice. 

Reduces Risk of a Heart Attack

Folate aids in reducing homocysteine, an amino acid that is an intermediary result in the methylation cycle, an essential metabolic process.

Homocysteine levels in the blood are a significant risk factor for heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease, affecting about 20-40% of heart disease patients. Another element required for appropriate blood pressure and heart function is potassium. It is a crucial electrolyte involved in nerve transmission and the contraction of all muscles, including the heart.

Studies have proven that folate and potassium are essential for maintaining good heart health. Pinto beans contribute to heart health because of their fibre content and the levels of folate, magnesium, and potassium they contain.

Maintaining Blood Sugar Levels

Studies have proven that a high fibre food can help maintain blood sugar levels, which helps to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Pinto beans include dietary fibre, which helps balance blood sugar levels while providing digestive and cardiovascular benefits. In addition, pinto beans can help you control blood sugar levels while offering consistent, slow-burning energy if you have insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, or diabetes.

Rich in Antioxidants

Several studies show antioxidants save your cells against damage from free radicals, which are unstable chemicals that can cause disease over time.

For example, pinto beans are very high in kaempferol, a flavonoid with numerous health advantages. Many animal and experiment studies have linked it to cancer growth inhibition. In addition, kaempferol reduces inflammation and leads to a lower risk of stroke.

Weight Management

Recent studies have proven that a diet rich in fibre aids weight loss. A high-fibre diet keeps the stomach full for longer, significantly reducing overeating. A diet filled with protein is also said to keep cravings at bay, and pinto beans filled with the two are a great source. A high amount of protein and fibre can reduce cravings and help weight loss.

Inexpensive and Easy to Add

The best part about Pinto beans is that they are inexpensive and super easy to add to a diet. As mentioned above, they are a great source of protein for vegetarians, vegans, and non-vegetarians. There are many ways to add them to one’s diet, and you can add them to a starter, as an entree, or even as a midday snack. 

The HealthifyMe Note

Pinto beans comprise a high carbohydrate, fibre, and fat-free nutritional profile that helps in providing instant energy, weight loss, blood sugar regulation, and digestive health. In addition, pinto beans are high in kaempferol, a flavonoid associated with cancer growth inhibition, reduced inflammation, and a lowered risk of cardiovascular diseases, including stroke. Hence, consuming pinto beans in moderate amounts has several benefits. 

Ways to Include Pinto Beans in Your Diet

  • Soak them overnight, mash them up and use them as a paste or filling.
  • Use it as a side dish or a main ingredient in soups, stews, dips, and burritos.
  • Canned beans can be strained and used in various forms.

Recipes Using Pinto Beans

Vegan Mushroom Bean Burger

Serves: 4 servings 

Preparation time: 40 minutes


  • Canola oil, or vegetable oil, divided: 3 tbsp
  • White or yellow onion, diced: 1
  • Clove of garlic, minced: 1
  • Green onions, chopped: 3
  • Cumin: ½ tsp
  • Chopped mushrooms: ¾ cup
  • Warm water: 2 tbsp
  • Egg replacer: 1½ tsp
  • Pinto beans, drained: 500 grams
  • Minced fresh parsley: 1 tsp
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Hamburger buns: 4
  • Baby spinach, sliced tomatoes, and sliced cucumbers: For drizzling


  • Grab all the ingredients.
  • In a medium-sized skillet, heat 1 tbsp of oil. For 3 to 5 minutes, until the onion is tender, sauté the diced onion and garlic.
  • Add the mushrooms, green onions, and cumin. Cook the mushrooms for 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Add a little oil if needed. Set aside the cooked onion and mushrooms.
  • Warm the water and egg replacer together, then set aside. Mash the beans until mushy in a separate bowl. Alternatively, grind the beans in a food processor rather than pureeing them. Stir in the egg replacer mixture until thoroughly mixed.
  • Form the mixture into 1-inch thick patties, and cook each side for about 3 minutes. Cooking these patties in an indoor grill pan is also suggested.
  • Place on burger buns and top it up with fresh vegetables.

Pinto Beans Soup

Serves: 1 serving

Preparation time: 20 minutes


  • Dry pinto beans: 1 can
  • Small onion, diced: 1
  • Cloves garlic smashed: 4
  • Jalapeno or serrano pepper: 1
  • Cilantro leaves: ¼ cup
  • Small ham hock, a slice of bacon, or pork bone
  • Salt: ½ tsp
  • Black pepper: 1 tsp
  • Paprika: 1 tsp
  • Chicken or vegetable broth (optional): 2 cups 
  • Water


  • Soak beans overnight in a big mixing dish or pot. Remove any little rocks you find. Cover the beans with water (at least 3 inches above beans) and leave to soak overnight on the counter.
  • Rinse and drain the beans thoroughly. Put everything in a big pot with a lid and add the onion, garlic, jalapeño, cilantro, and ham hock. Seasonings if using (this is also the time to add tomatoes and Mexican spices if you make that version). If using, add chicken broth and enough water to cover the beans by at least 2 inches.
  • Heat the saucepan with the lid on (medium-high heat). After a minute of boiling, reduce the heat to low.
  • Cook for 2-4 hours, or until the beans are soft.

Vegetarian Bean and Rice Burrito

Serves: 4 servings

Prep time: 45 minutes


  • Cooked rice: 2 cups 
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped: 2 tbsp
  • Limes juiced: 2
  • Medium onion, diced: 1/2 
  • Garlic cloves, minced: 3 to 4 
  • Vegetable oil (or olive oil): 2 tbsp
  • Can of pinto beans drained: 500 grams
  • Chilli powder: 1 tbsp
  • Round cumin: ½ tsp
  • Hot sauce, or to taste: 1 tbsp
  • Pinch of salt to taste (optional)


  • Get all the ingredients.
  • Toss cooked rice and chopped cilantro in a large bowl, then add lime juice. Heat until hot in the microwave or stove, then stir well.
  • In a separate pan, sauté the onion in oil for 5 minutes or until tender. Add the garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the pinto beans, chilli powder, cumin, and spicy sauce. You can season with a pinch of salt if needed. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the beans are well heated.
  • Fill flour tortillas with the cilantro-lime rice, black bean mixture, and additional toppings.
  • Fold the burrito: Wrap in the short ends, then fold one long side over the filling and gently press to tighten the fold before rolling up the rest of the burrito.
  • Serve immediately after cutting in half.

Possible Side Effects of Pinto Beans

Increased Flatulence

Bean eating may cause gas, bloating, and changes in stool in some people. There is, however, some heterogeneity in this response. When dietary fibre intake was high, some patients had increased flatulence and intestinal gas. Water-soluble carbohydrates called oligosaccharides are not easy to digest, and they are broken down into carbon dioxide, sulphur, and hydrogen and expelled as flatus. If gas and bloating are a problem, soak dry beans overnight. 

To avoid these unpleasant sensations, limit the number of pinto beans and other legumes you eat in one sitting. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day and have enough fibrous food to bulk up the stools and help pass along the digestive tract more quickly and smoothly.

Affects Bone Health

As per studies, excessive phytate intake can hamper bone health. Pinto beans include phytates, which can prevent the body from absorbing calcium, and foods high in phytates can cause iron and zinc deficits. On the other hand, phytate content can be reduced in Pinto beans by soaking them in water before cooking or eating.


Bean allergy sufferers have asthma, dyspnea, chest tightness, and tachycardia. The reaction takes place primarily after intake. There are lower risks of developing an allergy while handling (cleaning or cooking) these beans. Pinto beans are the most popular bean kind, and they have an excellent nutritional profile. Pinto beans are flavourful with a nutty taste, which is there due to the presence of phytochemicals, dietary fiber, protein, and minerals; these

 components only make Pinto beans so beneficial. Pinto bean consumption may lessen the risk of coronary heart disease, increase satiety, aid glycemic control, reduce mortality, and lower cancer risk. However, excessive consumption can have several negative consequences. They have the potential to induce flatulence, bone damage, abdominal pain, and allergies. As a result, eat them in moderation to reap the benefits.

Storage and Food Safety

Look for uncracked beans that haven’t been exposed to dust or humidity when buying legumes. You can buy dry beans in pre-packaged containers, but many supermarkets sell pinto beans in bulk.

Store dried beans in a dry place away from direct sunlight and excessive moisture. Legumes can last up to a year if properly preserved. Cooked pinto beans will last three days when refrigerated in an airtight container.


Pinto Beans are highly nutritious, delicious, and inexpensive, these are the reasons why they are popular in modern times. Packed with proteins, fibres, and all the essential nutrients, these beans are the go-to. They are a perfect option for a nutritious diet and work well for everyone.

They are one of the best protein options for vegetarians and vegans and a good alternative for non-vegetarians. While this is a great option, an excess of the beans can cause side effects such as gas, nausea, and reduction of bone density. However, beans can be a part of the daily diet in moderate quantities. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What is the nutritional value of pinto beans cooked?

A. According to USDA, 100 grams of the cooked pinto bean contains 143 kcal of energy, 9.01 grams of protein, 0.65 grams of fat, 26.2 grams of carbohydrate, 9 grams of fibre, 46 mg of calcium, 2.09 mg of iron, 50 mg of magnesium, 147 mg of phosphorus, 436 mg of potassium, folate 172 µg, etc. 

Q. Are pinto beans unhealthy?

A. Pinto beans are high in nutrients, protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients may help with blood sugar regulation and heart health, among other things. Pinto beans are also highly antioxidants, which may help you avoid chronic disease. However, too many beans can cause gas, bloating, and nausea. In addition, excessive eating has long-term consequences such as decreased bone density and a lack of Vitamin B12.

Q. What are the health benefits of pinto beans?

A. Pinto beans are an excellent source of fibre known to aid digestion and improve bowel movements and gut health. Since fibre keeps the stomach full, the beans can help weight loss. A high amount of protein promotes healthy eating in vegetarians and vegans. In addition, beans promote low blood sugar levels due to their low glycemic index. Pinto beans also help reduce cardiovascular diseases, thus making them an excellent dietary option.

Q. What are pinto beans high in?

A. Pinto beans are high in fibre and protein. For example, 100 g of beans contains 21.4 g of protein and 15.5 g of fibre. The beans are also high in vitamins and minerals. The beans are especially rich in potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium, making them an excellent food source. 

Q. Are pinto beans healthier than black beans?

A. Black beans have fewer calories, less fat, and more protein than white beans. Black beans have a lower total carb count than pinto beans. However, pinto beans come out on top when it comes to other minerals like fibre, calcium, phosphorus, folate, and vitamin K. Both black beans and pinto beans are high in nutrients and provide a variety of vitamins and minerals. They’re adaptable, and you can use them in various recipes. Using pinto or black beans depends on personal preference and the exact recipe.

Q. Is it OK to eat pinto beans every day?

A. A short, eight-week research found that eating ½ cup (86 g) of pinto beans per day reduced total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, leading to an increased risk of heart disease. Another study found that eating pinto beans frequently reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing propionate synthesis. So it’s safe to say that Pinto beans consumed daily possess no potential harm unless eaten in excess.

Q. Do pinto beans make you gain weight?

A. On the contrary, pinto beans are said to be a good source of fat loss. As the beans are rich in fibre, it keeps the stomach full for longer and helps to reduce excessive eating. The only times the beans will make you put on weight is if it’s eaten in excess. 

Q. Are pinto beans carbs or protein?

A. Pinto beans belong to the pulses family of plant foods, including lentils, peas, and soybeans. While the carbohydrates value in 100g of pinto beans is 62.6 g, the beans are famous for their protein content. 100g of beans contain 21.4 g of protein, making it an excellent plant-based source. 

Q. Do pinto beans make you poop?

A. Fibre in a food item boosts digestion and bowel movement, which helps with excretion by making the stool smoother and easier to pass. Pinto Beans are a natural source of high fibre (15.5 g), making them an excellent option for improving digestion. It is safe to say that pinto beans make you poop by smoothening the stool bulk, but it’s best to eat them in limited quantities. An excess of the beans can lead to flatulence and indigestion.

Q. Are pinto beans easy to digest?

A. Pinto Beans are suitable for the digestive tract but complicate digestion due to lectin and oligosaccharides. Despite this, there are several ways to make bean digestion easier. Some include soaking them for 48 hours in lukewarm or alkaline water, cooking them for longer, cooking in stock, serving them with a fermented food item, pressure cooking them, and eating in lesser quantities. 

About the Author

Mehak holds masters in foods and nutrition from Amity university, Noida. She has a keen interest in public health and nutrition and has been in charge of various projects with milestone NGO. She has worked with people over the globe to bring out the changes in their lives and has always been working towards lifestyle modifications via good dietary practices. According to her a healthy lifestyle is not about the destination but all about the journey.

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