With the increasing popularity of plant-based eating, beans have likely made an appearance in your bowls and plates.

And for good reason: they’re incredibly versatile, not to mention nutritional powerhouses. You’ll find almost a dozen different varieties at most groceries stores.

A lesser-known variety is Peruvian beans, also known as mayocoba, peruano, or canary beans, which are delicious and nutrient-dense in their own right.

This article dives deep into Peruvian beans, including their health benefits, downsides, potential effects on weight, and recipes to try.

A bowl of Peruvian beans with chorizo.Share on Pinterest
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As the name suggests, Peruvian beans are indigenous to Peru. They’re often simmered with herbs, spices, and aromatics and served as a side dish, cooked into a creamy stew, or served with bread or as a buttery dip (1).

But don’t get them mixed up with pinto beans or cannellini beans, native to Mexico and Italy.

Although they may look alike and have similar nutritional values, Peruvian beans have a distinct pale, ivory color. Plus, they’re milder in flavor and softer and creamier in texture (1).

Summary

Peruvian beans are native to Peru and are used in many dishes like soups and dips. They look pale and ivory in color, and they generally taste creamy and mild unless seasoned.

Just 1/4 cup (50 grams) of dried Peruvian beans, which translates to about 1 cup cooked, provides (2):

  • Calories: 170
  • Fat: 1.5 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 30 grams
  • Fiber: 13 grams
  • Protein: 11 grams
  • Iron: 3.6mg (20% of the daily value)
  • Calcium: 80mg (8% DV)

Peruvian beans are rich in essential nutrients, particularly fiber and iron.

Fiber supports digestive health, while iron fuels your red blood cells, affecting everything from your immune system to your cognitive function.

Plus, Peruvian beans are sources of plant-based protein and calcium but remain low in fat and calories.

Summary

Peruvian beans are an excellent source of fiber and iron. They also offer plant-based protein and calcium, and they are low in fat and calories.

Peruvian beans may support your heart health and, thanks to their fiber and protein, can increase satiety (fullness) levels.

May support your heart health

Beans of all kinds have long been associated with protection against heart disease.

A 2021 review found that eating one cup of beans daily was linked to reduced total cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood pressure levels (3).

That’s likely because beans contain nutrients that combine powerfully to support heart health. A cup of cooked Peruvian beans provides nearly half of your daily fiber needs and 8% of your daily calcium requirements (2).

One review of 31 studies found a 7–24% lower risk of heart disease amongst people who ate more fiber (4).

The resistant starch in beans is also key. It may promote beneficial gut bacteria growth, which may be health protective.

In fact, older studies have found a 33–50% improvement in insulin sensitivity after supplementing 15–30 grams of resistant starch per day for 4 weeks. Insulin resistance is a major risk factor for heart disease and other chronic illnesses (5).

Finally, a review of 23 studies concluded that eating beans may help reduce low density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol by 19%, risk of heart disease by 11%, and coronary heart disease by 22% (6).

All of these nutrients combine powerfully to promote heart health. It’s important to remember that beans are also a staple of a well-balanced plant-based diet, which can be profoundly effective in the prevention of heart disease (7).

Learn more about how plant-based eating can prevent heart disease here.

May lead to greater satiety (fullness)

Beans can be an incredibly satisfying food thanks to the high amounts of protein and fiber they offer, since these nutrients can help reduce hunger levels (8).

Furthermore, soluble fiber — a type of viscous fiber that’s dominant in beans — works to extend gastric emptying. That means it keeps food in the stomach for longer, increasing satiety (fullness) (9).

Eating sufficient fiber can also help regulate ghrelin and leptin, which are hormones found in the gut that affect hunger and satiety (10).

We know that fiber as a nutrient keeps us full, but it seems that the source of fiber may be important, too.

A 2017 randomized controlled trial found that eating a meal containing whole beans increased levels of cholecystokinin, an appetite-reducing hormone, compared with eating a meal followed by a fiber supplement (11).

As well, adding bean flours to wheat-based pastas was shown to reduce post-meal appetite (12).

Fiber isn’t the only nutrient that can affect appetite hormones; it turns out that protein can, too, and beans are a great source.

A review of 49 studies found that eating protein at mealtimes increased satiety hormones cholecystokinin and GLP-1 and decreased ghrelin after the meal (13).

However, It’s important to note that beans on their own are unlikely to keep you satiated for long, since other factors like calorie density and volume are important satiety regulators, too.

If you’re looking for a satiating meal, pair beans with vegetables and some healthy fats, such as avocado.

Summary

Thanks to the high levels of plant-based fiber, protein, calcium, and resistant starch, eating Peruvian beans regularly may help support heart health and increase fullness. For optimal nutrition, eat beans with vegetables and healthy fats like avocados.

Beans can have an effect on body composition in the context of a well-balanced diet.

A study including 246 women found that those who ate more beans experienced decreases in body fat percentage and waist circumference (14).

Another review of 21 studies found that eating 1/2–3/4 cups of beans daily was linked to reduced body weight, along with other cardiometabolic risk factors like cholesterol levels (15).

However, studies included were low to medium in quality, so we need more research specifically into whether beans affect body composition and weight (15).

Higher quality research does suggest that waist circumference appears to be reduced in people who eat more plant proteins compared with animal-based proteins, and beans are a great source of plant-based protein (16).

Interestingly, a review of 21 trials found that eating pulses (which include beans) was linked to weight loss, even when participants were maintaining a neutral calorie intake instead of restricting calories (17).

Recall protein and fiber’s impact on satiety. It makes sense that the more satiating a food is, the less you’ll need to feel full. Thus, eating more beans can inherently help with portion management.

As always, the context of a whole meal matters more than a singular food, and your overall diet matters more than a singular meal. Consider enjoying 1/2–3/4 cup servings of beans regularly alongside other nutrient-dense foods.

It’s important to note that all of these studies were on beans in general, not just Peruvian beans, as we have no research on this particular variety to date.

Summary

Beans may affect your body composition, such as by helping reduce body fat levels and waist circumference, but only as part of an overall healthy diet. It’s important to eat them alongside other nutrient-dense foods.

Peruvian beans can cause bloating and gas in people who have more sensitive guts, as well as people who introduce beans to their diet suddenly when they’re not used to eating much fiber.

That’s because beans contain harder-to-digest carbs that can ferment in the gut. To increase digestibility, be sure to soak dried beans before cooking. And start slow — it may simply take some time for your body to adjust (18).

Another concern is the presence of “antinutrients,” which can affect how effectively your body absorbs the nutrients from food.

Although they have a bad rep, antinutrients aren’t always harmful, and sometimes they’re even beneficial for health. But if you’re concerned, cooking methods like sprouting and soaking can reduce the levels of antinutrients in beans (19).

Summary

Some people have trouble digesting beans. Beans also contain “antinutrients,” which concern some people, though they aren’t always harmful. Try sprouting or soaking beans to increase digestibility and reduce antinutrients.

Pervuian beans can be prepared similarly to other beans.

Here is one way you can prepare them:

  1. Rinse dried beans to remove any dirt.
  2. Optionally, soak them in water overnight. In addition to increasing health benefits, this can help cut cooking time.
  3. Place beans in large pot and cover with fresh water.
  4. Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer. For beans soaked overnight, simmer for about 20 minutes. If cooking dry beans, simmer 1 to 2 hours until they’re tender.

Peruvian beans are typically cooked with onions, garlic, aji amarillo paste, lard, and chunks of meat. Since their flavor is mild, they can absorb the flavor of other ingredients while retaining a creamy texture.

For a simple and delicious recipe, check out Tacu Tacu (Peruvian beans and rice).

Peruvian beans are a versatile and delicious food. Creamy in texture and mild in flavor, they’re often cooked with a variety of stronger flavorings and enjoyed as a stew, dip, paste, or side dish.

As well, Peruvian beans offer many health benefits, including supporting heart health and satiety levels. They may affect your weight or body composition if eaten regularly within an overall healthy diet.

Keep in mind that adding any one food to your diet won’t substantially alter your health. It’s important to enjoy Peruvian beans as part of a varied, well-balanced diet that includes foods you love and any foods important to your culture.

Just one thing

Try this today: Curious to learn about more Peruvian foods? Check out 4 Benefits of Maca Root, a Peruvian plant grown in the Andes mountains.