Are Red Beans [Kidney Beans] Good for Pregnancy?

Photo of author

Written by Gina Wagg BA, Dip.

Published on

BabyFacts logo

As a pregnant woman, you may be wondering if kidney beans are a safe and nutritious option for you, especially if you’re eating them for their purported health benefits.

Kidney beans are generally safe to eat during pregnancy. They’re a good source of protein, fiber, iron, and folate, essential nutrients for a healthy pregnancy. However, there is some concern about kidney beans being poisonous, but this is typically only a concern if they’re raw or improperly cooked.

What steps should be taken when cooking kidney beans to ensure they’re safe to eat? In this article, we will discuss the health benefits of these beans and what safety precautions to keep in mind. Read below to learn more.

The Benefits of Kidney Beans When Pregnant

kidney beans on wooden spoon

Kidney beans are a rich source of nutrients for pregnant women. They contain:

Protein: Protein is essential for developing the baby’s organs, muscles, and nervous system (source: Advances of Nutrition Journal). You must consume about 60 grams of protein per day during pregnancy (source: University of California San Francisco). A hundred grams of kidney beans have about 8.67 grams of protein (source: USDA).

Fiber: Fiber helps to prevent constipation, which is common during pregnancy. It also helps to control blood sugar levels (source: Food Science and Nutrition Journal). The recommended amount of fiber for pregnant women is 28 grams per day (source: Nutrients Journal). A hundred grams of kidney beans have about 7.4 grams of fiber (source: USDA).

Iron: Iron is essential for the development of the baby’s nervous system and for preventing anemia (source: Nutrition Journal). The recommended amount of iron for pregnant women is 30 milligrams per day (source: Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism). A hundred grams of kidney beans have about 2.94 milligrams of iron (source: USDA).

Folate: Folate is vital for developing the baby’s neural tube (source: CDC). The recommended amount of folate for pregnant women is 600 micrograms per day (source: Harvard). A hundred grams of kidney beans have about 130 micrograms of folate (source: USDA).

These key nutrients make them worthy of a place on your plate during pregnancy. You can make them a part of your regular diet by including them in salads, soups, stews, casseroles, and even desserts.

Can Pregnant Women Have Undercooked or Raw Kidney Beans?

It’s essential to cook kidney beans properly before eating them. This is because they contain a compound called phytohemagglutinin, which can cause food poisoning.

Symptoms of phytohemagglutinin poisoning include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (source: University of Illinois).

To prevent illness, you’ll need to take the following steps:

  1. Soak them in water for at least five hours. Soaking them in water breaks down the phytohemagglutinin and makes it less likely to cause food poisoning.
  2. Cook them thoroughly. Boil them for at least 10 minutes. This will further reduce the chances of food poisoning. Phytohemagglutinin is destroyed by cooking at 100 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes (source: Journal of Food Science).

If you’re unsure whether they are cooked properly, it’s best to avoid them altogether. As per canned kidney beans, you should always check the label to see if they’ve been pre-cooked. If not, you must cook them before using them in a dish.

As with other types of food poisoning during pregnancy, if you start to have any unusual symptoms such as diarrhea or vomiting after eating kidney beans, then speak to your healthcare provider.

If you’ve accidentally eaten one or two beans that you suspect were undercooked, this is unlikely to be a problem – but keep an eye out for the above symptoms, just in case.

canned kidney beans transferred on a plate

Are Canned Kidney Beans OK During Pregnancy?

Canned kidney beans are generally safe to eat during pregnancy. Check to make sure that the can is not bloated or damaged in any way. Bloated or damaged canned goods mean that the food has gone bad and can cause food poisoning. If the beans are in a jar, make sure to inspect the seal before using it. Do not use it if the jar is damaged or the seal has been broken.

Overall, kidney beans are a great addition to a pregnancy diet. They offer many essential nutrients for a healthy pregnancy, such as protein, fiber, iron, and folate.

However, cooking them properly before eating is essential, as raw or undercooked beans can cause food poisoning. If you have any questions or concerns, speak with your healthcare provider.