pinto beans in a bowl with spoon

Pinto beans for protein, calcium and iron

What are pinto beans?


Pinto beans are native to Mexico and Central America and are a staple ingredient in Latin American cuisine. The pink-hued beans are commonly used in dishes like refried beans and chilli con carne.

Available tinned or dried, they are a rich source of plant-based protein, calcium and iron. Here, we look at their benefits and outline a few tasty recipe ideas that are filled with goodness.

What are the health benefits of pinto beans?


Pinto beans are packed with protein and other nutrients

On top of iron, calcium and vitamin B9, 100g of boiled pinto also provides 9g protein, so getting enough of these vitamins and minerals from our diets is key to our overall health. We need both iron and vitamin B9 to help form healthy blood cells, while calcium is needed for healthy teeth and bones.

Vitamin B9, also known as folate or folic acid, helps reduce the likelihood of birth defects in babies so is crucial for women during pregnancy.

Pinto beans are a great source of fibre

Fibre is an essential part of a balanced diet, and luckily every 100g of boiled pinto beans contains 9g of dietary fibre. In addition to keeping our digestive systems healthy, a diet full of fibre can help to prevent constipation.

Pinto beans may lower cholesterol and keep your heart healthy

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that gets carried around in our blood. Having too much “bad” cholesterol, known as LDL, can cause fatty material to build up and clog the arteries.

This can lead to an increased risk of conditions like heart disease and high blood pressure. But legumes like pinto beans could come to the rescue. Evidence suggests that pinto beans may reduce cholesterol levels which could keep heart conditions at bay.

Pinto bean recipe ideas


Pinto beans add a delicious flavour and texture to your favourite recipes. Unlike tinned pinto beans which can be used straight away, dried varieties need to be soaked overnight before cooking.

Here are some of our favourite recipes:

Refried beans

Used in burritos, tacos and quesadillas, refried beans are a versatile part of Mexican cookery. Creamy and filling, they make a wonderful side dish or main course. To make them, add boiled pinto beans to a pan of sautéed diced onions and garlic. Simmer for a few minutes then mash the beans to form a thick purée.

Homemade beans on toast

Spice up this classic comfort meal by switching baked beans for pinto beans. Make is as spicy or mild as you like by using your own seasonings.

Start by browning onions in a pan before adding cooked pinto beans, tomatoes and a little water. Add your choice of herbs and spices and cook gently for a few minutes. To finish, pour the beans over a slice of toasted bread.

Pinto bean dip

This alternative to hummus is easily whipped up in a matter of minutes. Add cooked pinto beans, oil, garlic, paprika and dried coriander to a blender along with 2 tablespoons of water. Blend until smooth then season with salt and pepper. Enjoy with carrot sticks or crisps as a savoury snack.

High in fibre and a great source of plant-based protein, discover the benefits of beans and pulses for yourself.

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