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Polyphenol-Rich Dry Common Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) and Their Health Benefits

Food Science and Technology Program, Division of Science and Technology, Beijing Normal University—Hong Kong Baptist University United International College, Zhuhai 519087, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(11), 2331;
Received: 25 October 2017 / Revised: 2 November 2017 / Accepted: 2 November 2017 / Published: 4 November 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bioactive Phenolics and Polyphenols 2018)


Polyphenols are plant metabolites with potent anti-oxidant properties, which help to reduce the effects of oxidative stress-induced dreaded diseases. The evidence demonstrated that dietary polyphenols are of emerging increasing scientific interest due to their role in the prevention of degenerative diseases in humans. Possible health beneficial effects of polyphenols are based on the human consumption and their bioavailability. Common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) are a greater source of polyphenolic compounds with numerous health promoting properties. Polyphenol-rich dry common beans have potential effects on human health, and possess anti-oxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-obesity, anti-inflammatory and anti-mutagenic and anti-carcinogenic properties. Based on the studies, the current comprehensive review aims to provide up-to-date information on the nutritional compositions and health-promoting effect of polyphenol-rich common beans, which help to explore their therapeutic values for future clinical studies. Investigation of common beans and their impacts on human health were obtained from various library databases and electronic searches (Science Direct PubMed, and Google Scholar).

1. Introduction

Plants synthesize secondary metabolites that often have widespread bioactivities, and are known as phytochemicals. Polyphenol is one of the phytochemicals containing large bioactive structural phenolic units. It has a wide range of classification and possesses various pharmacological and health-promoting effects [1]. Polyphenols are largely found in fruits, cereals, vegetables, food legumes, herbs, spices, nuts, wine, olive oil, tea, coffee, and chocolate. Polyphenols are classified into different groups based on the function of several phenyl rings, including flavonoids (flavones, flavonols, flavanones, isoflavones, anthocyanins, chalcones, dihydrochalcones, and catechins), phenolic acids (hydroxybenzoic hydroxyphenyl acetic, hydroxyphenyl pentanoic and hydroxyl cinnamic acids), stilbenes, and lignans [2]. The primary functions of polyphenols are as anti-oxidants involved in the prevention of degenerative diseases such as cancer and metabolic syndromes [2]. The health-promoting effects of polyphenols depend on the quantity consumed in the diet and their bioavailability. In addition, polyphenols are the active substances in many food legumes, which regulate the activity of a broad spectrum of cell receptors, enzymes and gene expression [3]. Animal experimental studies showed that polyphenol in common beans possess anti-oxidant properties and have various biological activities including anti-diabetic, anti-obesity, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anticancer, hepatoprotective, cardioprotective, nephroprotective, neuroprotective, and osteoprotective [4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11].

2. Common Beans and Their Health Benefits

Common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) are annual plants, cultivated in temperate and semitropical regions for their edible dry seeds that are variously called navy beans, kidney beans, red beans, black beans, pinto beans, and cranberry beans. They were first cultivated in Peru and Mexico around 8000 years ago and are now cultivated worldwide [12]. They belong to the family Fabaceae. In the temperate regions, the green leaves and immature pods are edible as vegetables. Dry beans are mainly consumed in low- and middle-class families as the large portion of the protein. In many parts of Asian, young leaves are consumed as a salad. The straw of the plant is normally used for fodder after beans are harvested. In 2010, the global production of dried beans was 25.42 million metric tons, and they were harvested on 32 million hectares. About 19.23% of the productions was in India followed by Myanmar (13.88%), Brazil (12.42%), USA (5.66%), China (5.26%), Mexico (4.52%) and Tanzania (4.28%) [12]. The production of dried beans worldwide in 2014 was 27.59 million metric tons, and they were harvested on 31.22 million hectares. About 16.85% of the productions was in Myanmar followed by India (14.89%), Brazil (11.92%), USA (4.74%), Mexico (4.60%), Tanzania (4.023%) and China (3.84%) [12]. Beans are known to be used for treating eczema, diabetes, diuretic, burns, acne, cardiac, bladder, carminative, dropsy, dysentery, emollient, hiccups, itchy, and rheumatism [13].
Common beans do not differ mostly in their nutritional compositions; they differ slightly in taste, texture and cooking times [14]. Navy beans are white in color, and were used in the U.S. Navy diet during the 19th century; hence, their name. They are small-sized, white-skinned, oval-shaped beans. Navy bean-containing diets exerted beneficial effects during experimental colitis by reducing inflammatory biomarkers both locally and systemically [15]. Emerging evidence supports the efficacy of navy beans in regulating serum cholesterol and lipid profiles, and inhibiting the incidence and recurrence of adenomatous polyps or precancerous growths, thereby preventing colorectal cancer [16,17]. Kidney beans are large-sized, firm textured, red/pink glossy skinned and kidney-shaped beans. They have the potential to reduce glycemic index in experimental diabetes [18] and the ability to attenuate colonic inflammation in healthy mice [19]. Red beans are small, soft red textured, oval-shaped beans. They exert an anti-inflammatory response [20] and have health-promoting potential with anti-fungal, immunomodulatory, anti-proliferative and apoptosis-inducing activities in tumor cells [21,22]. Black beans are known as turtle beans, which are sweet in taste, soft texture, medium-sized, and oval-shaped beans. These coats are an excellent source of anthocyanins and other phenolics with the potential to be used as natural food colorants with exceptional anti-diabetic potential [23]. Pinto beans are medium-sized, brown-skinned, oval-shaped beans. Hemagglutinins, defensins isolated from pinto beans, possess anti-fungal, anti-diabetic and anti-tumor activities [24,25]. Cranberry beans, also called Roman beans, are red creamy textured, medium-sized and oval-shaped beans. They are rich in phenolic compounds and non-digestible fermentable components, which may help alleviate experimental colitis and mitigate the severity of other gut barrier-associated pathologies [26].
Common beans play a vital role in the vegetarian diets and provide numerous health benefits connected with eating pattern [27]. They serve as a cost-effective source of nutrients. Health benefits of beans are generally acquired from direct attributes, including their high content of proteins, dietary fibers, low saturated fat content, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, as well as replacement in the diet, when they substitute for animal products [28]. These replacements of meat and other animal products with beans are highly linked with enhanced animal welfare and the decrease in inputs of environmental resources [28]. Sufficient amounts of polyphenols in the dried beans act as potent anti-oxidants. Regular intake of these dried beans containing total and soluble fiber as well as resistant starches have reduced glycemic index in the human. Studies have also suggested that diets that include beans reduce low density lipoprotein (LDL), increase high density lipoprotein (HDL) levels and positively affect risk factors for metabolic syndrome, and thereby decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) obesity and diabetes [29]. The Food Habits in Later Life study conducted in Japanese, Greek and Australian populations have demonstrated that dried beans and other food legumes are the only foods linked with a reduced risk of mortality [30]. Hence, health-promoting effects are directly proportional to increased bean intake.

3. Nutritional Compositions of Common Beans

Dry common beans (fully matured and dried) are a rich source of proteins, starch, unsaturated fatty acids (linoleic acid), dietary fibers, vitamins and minerals that are considered as important food resources. These dry beans are normally soaked and cooked for few hours, and served as soups, stews, and meat dishes. Green beans (green immature pods) have greater quantities of vitamin C and dietary fiber and are often sold as canned or frozen in the USA, while sold as fresh vegetables in China. Nutritional properties of the beans are highly linked to their measure of protein, and, to a smaller extent, their carbohydrate, vitamin, and mineral contents. The protein present in the bean types is different based on the cultivars, which ranges between 15% and 35%. The predominant amino acids present in the dry beans are lysine (6.5–7.5 g/100 g protein) and tyrosine with phenylalanine (5.0–8.0 g/100 g protein) [31]. Consequently, the protein present in the beans meets the minimal need of human requirements endorsed by the World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization. Thus, 100 g of dry common beans serve in human provides about 9–25 g of protein, which is almost 20% of the recommended daily consumption for a normal adult. In addition, the digestibility of the dry bean protein is almost 80% [32]. About 55–75 g of carbohydrates are present in 100 g of raw beans and predominant fraction in the bean is starch, constituting almost 50% of the seed weight. In addition, dietary fibers (14–19 g/100 g of raw) and oligosaccharides are significant quantities [33]. More than 50% of fibers are insoluble, composed of pectins, pentosans, hemicellulose, cellulose, and lignin. The lipid fraction in the bean is about 1.5–6.5 g in 100 g of raw beans and is mainly composed of mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids [34].
Dry beans contain biologically active phytochemicals, which are beneficial for human health [3]. While the beans contain huge quantities of protein, it is connected with anti-nutritional factors and other substances that are harmful to human health including polyphenols (including tannins), proteases, lectins, anti-vitamins, galacto-oligosaccharides, flatulence factors, allergens, and phytic acid [35]. Among the anti-nutritional factors, polyphenols are the primary contributors to reduce digestion of the bean in the human. They are highly active and can react with protein to cause impairment of the digestion. Tannins in the beans are potent and have the ability to bind with proteins by H-bonds, and thus prevent their digestion [36]. Boiling bean seeds is the common method of processing, and results in a decrease in the polyphenol content and reduces anti-nutritional factors [37]. The germination mechanism is also improving the levels of free amino acids, nutritional quality, and decreases the anti-nutritional factors [38]. The nutritional compositions of common beans are listed in Table 1.
Common beans have the highest source of protein and other dietary nutrition by complementing other foods, including meat, wheat, cereals and other food legumes [39]. The protein content of beans is almost equal to that of meat, ranging between 20% and 30% [40,41]. The primary protein fractions in beans are globulin (50–70%) and albumin (10%). Based on the sedimentation coefficient, the protein fractions of globulins are classified into 7S and 11S; both are natural oligomers [42,43]. The 7S fraction is normally referred to as phaseolin, an active glycoprotein consisting of about 50% of the total bean nitrogen, whereas the 11S globulin fraction is only 10% [44]. Prolamine and glutelin are also present as in minor quantities [45]. Common beans contain the highest ranges of glutelins (20–30%) when compared with other food legumes (7–15%) [46,47]. Similar to other food legumes, common beans contain a greater amount of essential amino acids, including lysine, which is deficient in most cereals. Beans are an excellent source of micronutrients such as minerals and vitamins and observed superior to cereals [48]. They have the highest vitamin and mineral contents comparing to all legumes [49]. Similar to other food legume seeds, dried beans contain numerous bioactive compounds such as galacto-oligosaccharides, protease inhibitors, lectins, phytates, oxalates and phenolic-rich substances that play crucial metabolic function in humans and animals [50]. Based on the diet quality, some of these substances have been known as anti-nutritional factors. These substances can reduce protein digestibility, diminish nutrient absorption and mineral bioavailability, which may cause flatulence in human [51]. However, these anti-nutritional factors have antioxidant and prebiotic activities, and protect DNA damage against various cancers [52,53,54,55,56]. Hence, common beans are nutritionally complementary with respect to essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and anti-nutritional factors, and the consumption of common beans could alleviate deficiency status, ensuring in the balanced diet [47,57].

4. Polyphenols in Common Beans

The dry bean contains plenty of polyphenols. Studies have demonstrated that phenolic compounds are predominantly located in the seed coat of the bean than in the cotyledon and testa [61]. The content of the phenolic compound is about 145 mg/g and represents about 11% of the total seed [62]. The phenolic compounds in the seeds are flavones, monomers, and oligomers of flavanols, flavanones, isoflavonoids, anthocyanins, chalcones, and dihydrochalcones [61,63,64,65,66]. However, the phenolic acids and non-flavonoid phenolic compounds (hydroxybenzoic and hydroxycinnamic acid) are mainly found in cotyledons of the bean [67]. Based on their chemical structure, they are a highly diverse group ranging from simple molecules such as phenolic acids to complex polymers such as tannins and lignin [68]. The testa of the beans contains greater quantities of proanthocyanidins and anthocyanins [61]. Condensed tannins (10.65 mg catechin equivalents/g) and cyanidin 3-glucoside (3.75 mg catechin equivalents/g) are also mainly present in seed coats of the bean [69,70]. These phenolic compounds are generally varied, based on the seed coat color pattern and types of the cultivar of the beans. The color of the seed coat is based on the presence of polyphenols including anthocyanins, flavonols glucosides, and condensed tannins. Dark-colored beans normally have the highest anthocyanins content [71]. In addition, red, black and pink-colored varieties confer color to the bean seed coat due to their anthocyanins. The colors of light yellow or pink spot of the seed coat are generally based on the presence of condensed tannins [70].
Phenolic compounds isolation and characterization were initiated at early 1960, and four anthocyanin pigments (delphinidin 3-glucoside, petunidin 3-glucoside, malvidin 3-glucoside and 3,5-diglucosides) were extracted from the seed coat of black violet beans [72]. Later, anthocyanins, flavonols, and tannins from the different varieties of kidney beans were isolated and characterized by many researchers [73,74,75,76]. Studies have further demonstrated that wild and weedy Mexican beans are rich in anthocyanins (delphinidin, delphinidin 3-glucoside, petunidin, petunidin 3-glucoside, cyanidin, malvidin, malvidin 3-glucoside, pelargonidin and peonidin), present in 62 Mexican wild-type varieties [77,78,79]. Raw and cooked beans contain predominant quantities of flavonoids including quercetin, myricetin, cynidine, procyanidin, naringenin, catechin, hesperetin and kaempferol [61]. The significant glucosides of the flavonoids are apigenin 7-O-glucoside, quercetin 3-O-glucoside, myricetin 3-O-glucoside, naringenin 7-O-glucoside, quercetin 4-O-galactoside and kaempferol 3-O-glucoside [80]. Variations in the flavonoids and its glucosides were observed in different bean varieties. Kaempferol and its 3-O-glucosides are primarily found in pinto beans; diglucosides of kaempferol and quercetin are found in dark red kidney beans; 3-O-glucosides of malvidin, petunidin, and delphinidin are present in black beans; quercetin 3-O-glucoside and its malonates are found in trace quantity in light red kidney beans; and kaempferol monoglucoside, kaempferol 3-O-glucoside, and kaempferol 3-O-xylosyl glucoside are found in Italian beans [71,81].
Lima et al. [82] and Guajardo-Flores et al. [80] have analyzed in Brazilian beans containing non-glycosylated forms of isoflavonoids including daidzein (0.0082–0.1291 mg/g) and genistein (0.0026–0.0097 mg/g). Among them, black type of beans showed the highest concentrations of isoflavonoids and daidzein was the predominant compound. Raw and cooked beans contain phenolic acids, which may be derived from benzoic acid (vanillic, p-hydroxybenzoic, and gallic acids) and those derived from cinnamic acid (ferulic, p-coumaric, and chlorogenic acids). Among them, ferulic acid is the predominant phenolic acid on the dry common beans [78]. Studies have demonstrated that cooking of common beans at high temperature does not change the content of phenolic acids [83]. Raw common beans contain p-hydroxybenzoic acid (0.0045–0.0086 mg/g), vanillic acid (0.0052–0.0166 mg/g), coumaric acid (0.0032–0.0068 mg/g), and ferulic acid (0.0017–0.0036 mg/g) [84]. The polyphenols present in the common beans are illustrated in Table 2.

5. Health Promoting Effects of Polyphenol-Rich Dry Beans

The consumption of dry common bean has been greatly connected with many physiological and health promoting effects such as prevention of cardiovascular diseases, obesity, diabetes mellitus and cancers [86,88]. The anti-oxidant properties of polyphenol lie in their ability to neutralize free radicals and the chelation of transition metals, thus they counteract the initiation and propagation of oxidative processes [83]. Health promoting effects of polyphenol-rich dry common beans are illustrated in Figure 1.

5.1. Anti-Oxidant Activity

The dry common beans have excellent anti-oxidant activities because of its phenolic acids, flavonoids, stilbenes, and tannins. These anti-oxidant activities are primarily due to the reducing capacity of polyphenols as they play vital functions in neutralizing free radicals and scavenging radicals or suppressing lipid peroxidation [89]. In addition, polyphenols involve chelation of metal ions, causing impairment/cessation of oxidative mechanisms. Generally, the anti-oxidant activity is elevated during digestion and absorption of the common beans in the intestine. Normally, phenolic compounds are released higher in the stomach due to its acidic environment, and the acid medium and enzyme-mediated hydrolysis facilitate the higher solubility of polyphenols along with starch and proteins [65]. Common beans containing polyphenols have demonstrated the highest total anti-oxidant capacity measured by in vitro methods of 2,2’-Diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH), β-carotene bleaching, ferric reducing anti-oxidant power, oxygen radical absorbing capacity, Trolox equivalent anti-oxidant capacity, and total radical-trapping anti-oxidant parameters [63,64,80,85,90,91,92,93]. Animal studies have also confirmed that common beans possess the highest anti-oxidant capacity, as measured in various biochemical parameters including thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), hydroperoxides, glutathione (GSH), superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione reductase (GR), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and glutathione S-transferase (GST) [26,61,93,94]. In vitro and in vivo studies of common beans exerting anti-oxidant activity are summarized in Table 3.

5.2. Anti-Diabetic Activity

Venn and Mann [150] have strongly suggested that the regular consumption of dry common beans is beneficial in the prevention and management of diabetes. Clinical studies show that consumption of three or more servings of beans in a week decreases the menace of diabetes almost by 35%, as compared to less or non-consumption of beans [151]. In vitro anti-diabetic studies of common beans have showed a greater inhibition of α-amylase, α-glucosidase and dipeptidyl peptidase-IV, which have found to be anti-hyperglycemic activities due to their phenolic compounds such as flavonoids and their glucosides of delphinidin, petunidin, and malvidin, anthocyanins, catechin, myricetin 3-O-arabinoside, epicatechin, vanillic acid, syringic acid, and O-coumaric acid [23,101,152,153]. In vivo studies have also demonstrated that beans containing phenolic compounds reduce blood glucose, glycosylated hemoglobin and elevated insulin levels in the animals [104,105,106,131]. Similarly, Roman-Ramos et al. [154] have demonstrated that anti-hyperglycemic effect of kidney beans in healthy rats revealed 21% reduction in the graph plot under glucose tolerance curve when compared with 16% of the standard diabetic drug. Epidemiological studies associated with Chinese population have shown that regular intakes of common beans are inversely connected with the risk of type-2 diabetes [155]. Gupta et al. [103] and Tang et al. [156] have also studied in 56 diabetic subjects based on traditional and Ayurvedic principles, which have revealed that the regular consumption of black bean for three months reduces plasma glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin. The results showed that black bean ameliorates type-2 diabetes, which is due to black beans containing total phenolic, tannins and anthocyanins. In vitro and in vivo studies of common beans exerting anti-diabetic activities are summarized in Table 3.

5.3. Anti-Obesity and Cardioprotective Activity

Metabolic syndrome is the set of metabolic conditions connected with the threat of cardiovascular diseases, increased triglycerides (TG), total cholesterol (TC), low density lipoprotein (LDL), very low density lipoprotein (VLDL), blood pressure (BP), and glucose as well as lower levels of HDL and central adiposity [157,158]. Regular intake of dry common beans has proven to be favorable for healthy subjects as well as obese individuals by decreasing serum TC and LDL and elevating HDL [159]. Epidemiological and clinical studies have demonstrated that consumption of common beans inversely connected with the risk of cardiovascular and coronary arterial diseases [158,160]. Further, these studies revealed that consumption of beans four or more times per week reduced the risks of coronary arterial diseases (22%) and cardiovascular diseases (11%): serum TC declines of about 1% decrease the risk of coronary heart disease by 2%, while serum LDL declines of about 1% reduce the risk of both diseases by about 1% [160]. Two weeks of regular consumption of baked beans by hypercholesterolemic individuals showed a significant reduction of TC (12%) and LDL (15%) [161]. Another clinical trial has also investigated on the hypercholesterolemic subjects with consumption of 275 g of navy beans for three weeks found a reduction of both serum TC, and LDL up to 24% [162]. Eight weeks of consumption of one cup serving baked beans by hypercholesterolemic individuals showed a marked reduction of TC (6%) and LDL (5%) [160]. Similarly, consumption of dried, cooked pinto beans (130 g) four times a week significantly decrease serum TC and LDL in healthy individuals, resulted in decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease by 20% [158]. Azuki bean juice supplementation to young women also showed significantly decrease TC and TG levels and proved to be anti-hypercholesterolemic [163]. Similarly, consumption of one serving of cooked beans on regular basis inversely associated with the risk of myocardial infarction up to 38% [164].
In vivo anti-obesity and cardioprotective studies of common beans have showed a greater reduction of TC, TG, free fatty acids (FFA), phospholipids, and FA composition of total lipids, and was have found to have anti-hyperlipidemic activities due to their phenolic compounds such as quercetin, quercetin 3-O-glucoside, kaempferol, p-coumaric acid, ferulic acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, vanillic acid [116,165], orientin, isoorientin, rutin, myricetin-3-rhamnoside, hyperoside, isorhamnetin-3-O-glucoside, isoquercitrin, myricetin, luteolin, quercetin, luteolin-7-O-glucoside, kaempferol-glucuronide, kaempferol, isorhamnetin-3-O-glucoside, caffeine, hydroxycinnamic acid, and proanthocyanidins [141]. In vitro and in vivo studies of common beans exerting anti-obesity and cardiovascular activities are summarized in Table 3.

5.4. Anti-Mutagenic and Anti-Carcinogenic Activities

Normally, the generation of ROS and oxidative stress damage macromolecules such as lipid, protein RNA, and DNA, which may cause chronic degenerative diseases, including cancer [166,167]. However, the occurrence of cancer can be decreased by lifestyle and dietary habit changes. Studies have also suggested that diets rich in common beans reduce the greater risk of various cancers including colon, breast, and prostate [130,134,137]. A larger study conducted in 41 countries found that the consumption of common beans reduced the morbidity by cancers such as colon, breast, and prostate [168]. Further, studies have revealed that consumption of beans two or more times per week reduced the risks of colon cancer up to 47% [107], prostate cancer about 22% [169] and breast cancer about 67% [170]. In vivo studies have also suggested consumption of beans reduced risk of various cancers [132,133,134,135,136]. Hangen and Bennink [171] investigated diets fed with black beans in rats and observed the lower the incidence of total tumor (54%) and adenocarcinoma (75%). Similarly, the effect of navy beans decreased the occurrence of total tumor (59%) and adenocarcinoma (44%). The anti-carcinogenic and anti-mutagenic activities of beans are highly associated with the presence of phenolic compounds as well as other bioactive compounds [62,93]. Phenolic compounds have the potential to inhibit mutagenic agents including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, nitrosamines, and mycotoxins by inhibiting activation enzymes, provoking detoxification enzymes and intonation of commencement of mutagens [172,173]. Furthermore, common beans possess anti-carcinogenic and anti-mutagenic properties due to their phenolic compounds interacting with ultimate toxicants or mutagens, scavenging activities of phenolics, and inhibition of metabolism of the ultimate mutagen [62,76,174]. In vitro and in vivo studies on chemopreventive and anti-mutagenic activities of common beans are summarized in Table 3.

5.5. Anti-Inflammatory Activity

Common beans contain phenolic compounds (phenolic acids, flavonoids, and anthocyanins) and non-digestible fermentable components (short-chain fatty acid precursors) with demonstrated anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Experimental studies associated with modulation of inflammatory-related cell signaling pathways by common beans have been well established. In an animal study, C57BL/6 mice fed a 20% navy bean or black bean flour-containing diet showed significantly reduced dextran sodium sulfate induced experimental colitis and inflammation-related parameters (IL-1β, TNFα, IFNγ, IL-17A, and IL-9), increased histological injury score and apoptosis, and alleviated symptoms of colitis and colon inflammation [15]. Common beans possess various bioactive compounds including flavonoids and anthocyanins, which significantly reduced the activity of murine macrophages through the inhibition of pro-inflammatory gene expression without cytotoxicity [117,118,119]. Similarly, human-randomized, controlled, crossover trials have also demonstrated that three-day intake of 100 g of black bean meal and soup improved the arthritic condition by significantly reducing pain and inflammation [119]. The immunomodulatory effects of 20% navy bean or black bean or cranberry bean administration in C57BL/6 mice for two weeks showed a significant reduction in colonic mucosal damage and inflammation in response to dextran sodium sulfate. The results further demonstrated that common bean containing bioactive compounds including phenolic acids, flavonoids, and anthocyanins provoke prominent immune response [26,120]. In vitro and in vivo studies of common beans exerting anti-inflammatory activities are summarized in Table 3.

6. Conclusions

Dry common beans are consumed in diets worldwide, and play a significant function in human nutrition, especially as a source rich in proteins, carbohydrates, dietary fibers, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and other micronutrients, as well as low saturated fat content. Besides these nutrients, common beans possess enormous quantities of polyphenols and other metabolites, have anti-oxidant activities, major role in health-promoting effects, and protect against various diseases including diabetes, CVD, cancer, and microbial infections. These health benefits of beans are generally acquired from direct attributes, including their high content of nutrients, as well as replacement in the diet, when they substitute for animal products. It can therefore be concluded that health-promoting effects are directly proportional to the increase in bean intake. In addition, long-term clinical studies are urgently needed to warrant the therapeutic benefit of polyphenols rich common beans. In addition, the synergistic effects of polyphenol-rich common bean with other bioactive compounds on biological functions would be a recommendation for further studies. This investigation proves the efficacy of bioactive compounds in common bean, and enhances the therapeutic options for various diseases.


The work was jointly supported by two grants R201627 and R201714 from Beijing Normal University-Hong Kong Baptist University United International College, Zhuhai, Guangdong, China.

Author Contributions

Kumar Ganesan and Baojun Xu conceived and designed the review; Kumar Ganesan wrote the paper; and Baojun Xu critically revised and improved the manuscript.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declared that no conflicts of interest.


b.w.Body weight
BPBlood pressure
FAFatty acids
FFAFree fatty acids
GRGlutathione reductase
GSHReduced glutathione
HDLHigh density lipoprotein
kDaKilo daltons
LDLLow density lipoprotein
MTT3-(4,5-Dimethylthiazol-2-Yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide
p.o.Per oral
ROSReactive oxygen species
SODSuper oxide dismutase
TBARSThiobarbituric acid reactive substances
TCTotal cholesterol
TNF-αTumour necrosis factor α
VLDLVery low density lipoprotein


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Figure 1. Health promoting effects of polyphenol-rich dry common beans.
Figure 1. Health promoting effects of polyphenol-rich dry common beans.
Ijms 18 02331 g001
Table 1. Nutritional compositions of common beans in 100 g of edible portion [58,59,60].
Table 1. Nutritional compositions of common beans in 100 g of edible portion [58,59,60].
NutrientUnitsNavy BeansKidney BeansRed BeansBlack BeansPinto BeansCranberry Beans
Total lipid (fat)g0.000.380.0021.4321.430.00
Total dietary fiberg4.65.444.414.310.725.7
Total sugarsg0.000.772.783.573.572.86
Resistant starchg4.
Vitamin Cmg0.
Total saturatedg0.0000.0000.0001.7901.7900.000
Total monounsaturated fatty acidsg0.0000.0000.00014.29014.2900.000
Total polyunsaturated fatty acidsg0.0000.0000.0005.3605.3600.000
Polyphenolmg of gallic acid equiv/g12.4714.1413.6812.6012.5211.73
Flavonoidsmg of rutin equiv/g1.782.591.551.280.981.65
Table 2. List of polyphenols in the common beans.
Table 2. List of polyphenols in the common beans.
Bean NamePolyphenol ClassPolyphenol Sub-ClassCompound NameReferences
Dark beanFlavonoidsAnthocyaninsCyanidin 3-O-glucoside, pelargonidin 3-O-glucoside, petunidin-3-O-β-glucopyranoside, malvidin 3-O-glucoside, delphinidin acetyl-glucoside, pelargonidin acetyl glucoside, pelargonidin 3-O-malonyl glucoside, petunidin feruloyl glucose[61]
Wild and weedy Mexican bean, pinto and black beansFlavonoidsAnthocyaninsPeonidin, pelargonidin, cyanidin[78,85]
Dark bean, Wild, and weedy Mexican beanFlavonoidsAnthocyaninsDelphinidin 3-O-glucoside[61,78]
Alubia, black, cranberry, dark red kidney, great northern, light red kidney, navy, pink, pinto, and small redFlavonoidsAnthocyaninsPetunidin 3-O-(6″-acetyl-glucoside)[71,81]
Dark and kidney bean, zolfino landracesFlavonoidsAnthocyaninsPelargonidin 3,5-O-diglucoside[45,61]
Alubia, black, cranberry, dark red kidney, great northern, light red kidney, navy, pink, pinto, and small redFlavonoidsAnthocyaninsDelphinidin 3-O-glucosyl-glucoside[71,86]
Dark beanFlavonoidsFlavanols(+)-Catechin, (-)-epicatechin, (+)-gallocatechin, procyanidin dimer, (-)-epigallocatechin, Procyanidin dimer B2, procyanidin dimer B3, procyanidin dimer B4, procyanidin trimer, procyanidin trimer EEC, naringenin 7-glucoside[61]
Dark beanFlavonoidsFlavanonesNaringenin, hesperetin, naringin, naringenin 7-O-rutinoside, naringenin 7-O-glucoside, naringenin-7-methyl ether 2, hesperetin 3′-O-glucuronide, hesperetin 7-O-glucuronide, hesperetin 3′,7-O-diglucuronide, hesperetin 5,7-O-diglucuronide, hesperetin 7-O-rutinoside[61]
Dark beanFlavonoidsFlavonesApigenin, apigenin 7-O-glucoside[61]
Brazilian beanFlavonoidsFlavonesChrysin[66]
Dark bean, Brazilian bean, Mexican beanFlavonoidsFlavonolsKaempferol[35,61,66]
Dark bean, Brazilian bean, Mexican beanFlavonoidsFlavonolsQuercetin[35,61,66]
Dark bean, and Brazilian beanFlavonoidsFlavonolsQuercetin 3-O-galactoside, Quercetin 3-O-glucoside, Quercetin 3-O-rutinoside, Myricetin, Myricetin 3-O-glucoside, Myricetin 3-O-rhamnoside, Kaempferol 3-O-glucoside, Kaempferol 3-O-rutinoside[61,66]
Pinto beans, zolfino landracesFlavonoidsFlavonolsKaempferol 3-O-glucosylxylose[63,87]
Alubia, black, cranberry, dark red kidney, great northern, light red kidney, navy, pink, pinto, and small redFlavonoidsFlavonolsKaempferol 3-O-xylosyl-glucoside[71,81]
Pinto beansFlavonoidsFlavonolsKaempferol 3-O-acetyl-glucoside[63]
Dark bean, Brazilian beanFlavonoidsIsoflavonoidsDaidzein[61,66]
Dark bean, Brazilian beanFlavonoidsIsoflavonoidsGenistein[61,66]
Dark beanFlavonoidsIsoflavonoidsBiochanin A[61]
Pinto and black beansFlavonoidsIsoflavonoidsGlycitein[85]
Dark beanFlavonoidsIsoflavonoidsDihydrogenistein[61]
Brazilian beanPolyphenolsPolyphenolsCoumestrol[66]
Dark bean, pinto and black beans, Mexican beanPhenolic acidsHydroxybenzoic acidsProtocatechuic acid[35,61,85]
Dark beanPhenolic acidsHydroxybenzoic acidsGallic acid[61]
Mexican beanPhenolic acidsHydroxybenzoic acidsVanillic acid[35]
Dark bean, Mexican beanPhenolic acidsHydroxycinnamic acidsp-Coumaric acid[35,61]
Pinto and black beansPhenolic acidsHydroxycinnamic acidsCaffeic acid[85]
Dark bean, Mexican beanPhenolic acidsHydroxycinnamic acidsFerulic acid[35,61]
Dark beanPhenolic acidsHydroxycinnamic acidsSinapic acid, Ferulic acid 4-glucoside[61]
Dark beanStilbenesStilbenestrans-Resveratrol, resveratrol 3-O-glucoside[61]
Table 3. Summary of in vitro, in vivo and clinical studies on health-promoting effects of polyphenol-rich common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.).
Table 3. Summary of in vitro, in vivo and clinical studies on health-promoting effects of polyphenol-rich common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.).
Bean NamePolyphenols NamesModel/SubjectsDosageExperimental PeriodActivitiesReferences
Kidney beanp-coumaric, ferulic and sinapic acids, quercetin, kaempferol, procyanidins B-2 and B-3 and tanninsBrochothrix thermosphacta, Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes Scott A, Salmonella typhimurium, E. coli O157: H7, Pseudomonas fragi, and Lactobacillusplantarum62.5 to 500 µg/mL36–48 hAnti-bacterial activity[95]
Perla black beanDelphinidin 3-O-glucoside, petunidin 3-O-glucoside and malvidin 3-O-glucosideBacterial strain: Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Proteus vulgaris, Klebsiella oxytoca, Enterococcus faecalis, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis and Listeria monocytogenes; Parasitic strain: Giardia lamblia, Entamoeba hystolitica and Trichomonas vaginalis0.05, 0.5 and 5.0 mg/disk36–48 hAnti-bacterial and anti-parasitic activity[96]
Peruvian and Brazilian beanChlorogenic and caffeic acidIn vitro50 µL24 hAnti-diabetic and anti-hypertensive activity[97]
Brown beanTotal phenolicsHuman (16)-randomized crossover design100 g/bw/p.o.30 daysAnti-diabetic and anti-obesity activity[98]
Kidney beanTotal phenolics and anthocyaninsHuman with overweight subjects (39)-A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial50 g/bw/p.o.60 daysAnti-diabetic and anti-obesity activity[99]
Navy beanTotal phenolics and anthocyanins3T3-L1 adipocytes50 g/bw/p.o.60 daysAnti-diabetic and anti-obesity activity[100]
Pinto beanDelphinidin glucoside, petunidin glucoside, malvidin glucoside, anthocyanins, catechin, myricetin 3-O-arabinoside, epicatechin, vanillic acid, syringic acid and O-coumaric acidin vitro50 µL24 hAnti-diabetic activity[101]
Kidney beanPhenolic acids and bioactive peptide fractionsIn vitro<1, 1–3.5, 3.5–5, 5–10, and 10 kDa24 hAnti-diabetic activity[102]
Black beanPhenolic acids and bioactive peptide fractionsIn vitro10.20 to 0.34 mg24 hAnti-diabetic activity[23]
Black beanDelphinidin-3-O-glucoside, petunidin-3-O-glucoside, and malvidin-3-O-glucosideCaco-2 cellsAnthocyanin solutions (1 mg/mL), purified anthocyanins
(100 µM malvidin, 100 µM delphinidin) or phloretin (100 µM).
24–36 hAnti-diabetic activity[23]
Black beanTotal phenolic, tannins and anthocyaninsHuman (56)-diabetic patients100 g of black bean3 monthsAnti-diabetic activity[103]
Kidney beanTotal phenolic, tannins and anthocyaninsWistar albino rats200 mg/kg bw30 daysAnti-diabetic activity[104]
Black beanTotal phenolic, tannins and anthocyaninsWistar albino rats200 mg/kg bw45 daysAnti-diabetic activity[105]
Pinto beanTotal phenolicsHuman (12)-randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study100 g/bw/p.o.3 hAnti-diabetic activity[106]
Navy beanTotal phenolicsHuman with diabetes (17)-randomized 4 × 4 crossover trial50 g/bw/p.o.24 hAnti-diabetic activity[107]
Black beanTotal phenolics and anthocyaninsIn vitro100 µg24 hAnti-diabetic activity[108]
White kidney beanTotal phenolicsWistar albino rats50 mg/kg bw/p.o.7 daysAnti-diabetic activity[109,110]
Black beanPhenolic acids and bioactive peptide fractionsIn vitro10.20–0.34 mg24 hAnti-diabetic, and anti-hypertensive activities[101]
Zolfino landracePhenolic acidsin vitro700 µL24 hAnti-diabetic, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities[111]
Kidney beanPhenolic acids (chlorogenic acid, gallic acid, p-hydroxy benzoic acid, caffeic acid, protocatechuic acid, p-coumaric acid, rosmarinic acid, ferulic acid, sinapic acid and ellagic acid) and flavonoids (epicatechin, cate chin, gallocatechin gallate, epigallocatechin gallate, quercetin, hesperidin, and rutin)Male Wistar rats0.4, 0.8 and 1.2 g/kg bw/p.o. for 6 weeks21 daysAnti-diabetic, hypolipidemic and cardioprotective activity[112]
Kidney beanLectins and polyphenolFusarium oxysporum, Coprinus comatus, and Rhizoctonia solani20–200 µg/mL24 hAntifungal activity[113]
Kidney beanTotal phenolicsSprague-Dawley rats0, 7.5%, 15%, 30% or 60% w/w7 daysAnti-hepatotoxic effect[114]
White and red beanFerulic, coumaric, Sinapic acid, Catechin, Malvidin 6-O-glucoside, Quercetin,Macrophages cell line RAW 264.720 µL36–48 hAnti-inflammatory activity[115]
Navy and pinto beanPhenolic acids and bioactive peptide fractionsRAW 264.7 macrophages1–3.5, 3.5–5, 5–10, and 10 kDa36–48 hAnti-inflammatory activity[102]
Black, navy, kidney and pinto bean(+)-catechinSalmonella typhimurium strains TA98 and TA1002.5, 5, 10, 12.5, 15 and 25 µg24 hAnti-mutagenic activity[62]
Black and kidney beansQuercetin, kaempferol, p-coumaric acid, ferulic acid, p-hydroxybenzoic acid, and vanillic acidSprague-Dawley rats and a diet-induced obesity model in C57Bl/6 mice7.5%, 15%, 30% or 60% w/w7 daysAnti-obesity activity[116]
Black beanTotal phenolicsIn vitro50–200 µL24 hAnti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities[117]
Kidney beanFlavonoidsHMEC-1 line0.7 mg36–48 hAnti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities[118]
Black beanTotal phenolic, tannins and anthocyaninsHuman (12)-randomized, controlled, crossover trial100 g of black bean meal and soup3 daysAnti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities[119]
Navy and black beanPhenolic acids, flavonoids, and anthocyaninsC57BL/6 mice20% navy bean or black bean/p.o.2 weeksAnti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities[15]
White and dark kidney beansPhenolic acids, flavonoids, and anthocyaninsC57BL/6 mice20% navy bean or black bean/p.o.2 weeksAnti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities[19]
Cranberry beanPhenolic acids, flavonoids, and anthocyaninsC57BL/6 mice20% navy bean or black bean/p.o.2 weeksAnti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities[26]
Navy and black beansPhenolic acids, flavonoids, and anthocyaninsC57BL/6 mice20% navy bean or black bean/p.o.2 weeksAnti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities[120]
Pinto, navy and black beans(+)-catechinSalmonella typhimurium strains TA98 and TA1002.5, 5, 10, 12.5, 15 and 25 µg24 hAnti-oxidant and anti-mutagenecity activities[90]
Pinto, navy and black beansPhenolic acids and Lectin-free fractionsHuman erythrocytes and Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells0.2 mg24 hAnti-oxidant and anti-mutagenic effects[93]
Black and kidney beansCatechinIn vitro50–100 µL24 hAnti-oxidant and anti-mutagenic activities[91]
12 varieties of non-pigmented bean, red bean, speckled bean, and dark beanGallic acid, chlorogenic acid, epicatechin, myricetin, formononetin, caffeic acid, and kaempferolIn vitro human epithelial colorectal adenocarcinoma (Caco-2) cells, breast cancer (MCF-7), and A549 NSCLC cell line15–300 µL36–48 hAnti-oxidant and anti-proliferative Activities[121]
Black beanGenistein, non-glycosylated flavonolsIn vitro mammary gland, hepatic and colon cancer cell lines50–200 µL36–48 hAnti-oxidant and anti-proliferative activities[122]
Black beanTotal phenolicsWistar albino rats200 mg/kg bw/p.o.45 days-Anti-oxidant anti-diabetic and anti-hyperlipidemic activities[123]
Dalia beanCoumaric, salicylic, gallic, caffeic acids, epigallocatechin, rutin and quercetin, and flavonoidsIn vitro100 µL24 hAnti-oxidant activity[124]
Brazilian beanFerulic, sinapic, chlorogenic, and hydroxycinnamic acidsIn vitro50 µL24 hAnti-oxidant activity[125]
Pinto and black beansTotal phenolics, phenolic acids, isoflavones, and anthocyaninsIn vitro50 µL24 hAnti-oxidant activity[64,85,91]
Brazilian beanTotal phenolics, and phenolic acidsIn vitro50–100 µL24 hAnti-oxidant activity[126]
Black beanTotal phenolicsIn vitro200 µL24 hAnti-oxidant activity[127,128]
Yellow string beanTotal polyphenolicsIn vitro10–100 µL24 hAnti-oxidant activity[92]
Black beanTotal phenolicsWistar albino rats200 mg/kg bw/p.o.45 daysAnti-oxidant activity[94]
Black bean(+)-catechin, quercetin, vanillin and ellagic, caffeic, ferulic, gallic, chlorogenic, and sinapic acidsHuman and in vitro1 g/p.o.36–48 hAnti-oxidant activity and enhance gastrointestinal digestion and simulated colonic fermentation[129]
Dark beanp-coumaric, ferulic, sinapic acids, myricetin, quercetin, kaempferol, flavanones, hesperetin and naringenin derivativesIn vitro cell line cultures of Astrocytes (U-373), renal adenocarcinoma (TK-10), breast adenocarcinoma (MCF-7) and melanoma (UACC-62)700 µL36–48 hAnti-oxidant, neuroprotective and anticancer activities[61]
Kidney beanTotal phenolicsFemale Sprague Dawley rats0, 7.5%, 15%, 30% or 60% w/w46 daysChemoprotective effect on breast cancer[130]
Black beanTotal phenolicsFemale Sprague Dawley rats7.5%, 15%, 30% or 60% w/w46 daysChemoprotective effect on breast cancer[131]
Black, pinto and kidney beansTanninsMale Sprague–Dawley rats7.5%, 15%, 30% or 60% w/w46 daysChemoprotective effect on breast cancer[132]
Black beanTanninsMale Sprague–Dawley rats2.5 g/kg bw/p.o.9 weeksChemoprotective effect on colon cancer[133]
Black and navy beansTanninsMale Sprague–Dawley rats2.5 g/kg bw/p.o.9 weeksChemoprotective effect on colon cancer[134]
Black beansTanninsMale Sprague–Dawley rats2.5 g/kg bw/p.o.9 weeksChemoprotective effect on colon cancer[135,136]
Kidney beanTanninsHuman HT-29 cell lines100 µL48 hChemoprotective effect on colon cancer[137]
Kidney beanTanninsSprague–Dawley rats and Clostridium butyricum strain MIYAIRI5882.5 g/kg bw/p.o.9 weeksChemoprotective effect on colon cancer[138]
Black bean(+)-catechinHuman HT-29 cell lines20 mg48 hChemoprotective effect on colon cancer[139]
Black beanFlavonoidsIn vitro5 mg24 hCholesterol-lowering effects[140]
Black beanOrientin, isoorientin, rutin myricetin-3-O-rhamnoside, isorhamnetin-3-O-glucoside, isoquercitrin, myricetin, luteolin, quercetin, kaempferol, hyperoside, luteolin-7-O-glucoside, kaempferol-glucuronide, caffeine, isorhamnetin-3-O-glucoside, hydroxycinnamic acid, and proanthocyanidinsMale Wistar rats2% bean seed coat extract/p.o.7 daysHypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects[141]
Black beanTotal phenolicsWistar albino rats200 mg/kg bw/p.o.45 daysHypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effects[142]
Black beanFlavonoidsMale Wistar rats200, 400 mg/kg bw7 daysHypoglycemic effect[143,144]
Navy and pinto beansFlavonoidsMale Wistar rats50, 200, 500 mg/kg bw15 daysHypoglycemic effect and anti-obesity effect[145]
Kidney beanFlavonoidsMale Wistar rats50, 200, 500 mg/kg bw21 daysHypoglycemic effect and anti-obesity effect[146]
Black beanFlavonoidsObese Zucker fa/fa rats50 and 500 mg/kg bw3–7 days,
20 days
Hypoglycemic effect and anti-obesity effect[147]
Black beanCatechinMale Wistar rats50 mg/kg bw21 daysHypoglycemic effect and anti-obesity effect[109]
Black beanFlavonoidsCD1 mice200, 400 mg/kg bw45 daysHypoglycemic effect and anti-obesity effect[148]
Black beanTotal phenolic, tannins and anthocyaninsCD1 mice200, 400 mg/kg bw21 daysHypoglycemic effect and anti-obesity effect[149]
Black beanQuercetin 3-O-glucosideRat hepatocytes and C57BL/6 mice25 mg48 hHypolipidemic activity[140]
Expansion: b.w- body weight; w/w- weight/weight; p.o.- per oral.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Ganesan, K.; Xu, B. Polyphenol-Rich Dry Common Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) and Their Health Benefits. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18, 2331.

AMA Style

Ganesan K, Xu B. Polyphenol-Rich Dry Common Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) and Their Health Benefits. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2017; 18(11):2331.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Ganesan, Kumar, and Baojun Xu. 2017. "Polyphenol-Rich Dry Common Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) and Their Health Benefits" International Journal of Molecular Sciences 18, no. 11: 2331.

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