Pork and beans are a staple food for many people trying to lose weight or eat healthier. Canned pork and beans are convenient, inexpensive, and full of protein. However, like any food, pork and beans have both benefits and downsides for a diet. Understanding the nutrition information and your own dietary needs and goals is key to determining if pork and beans are a smart choice for you.
Nutrition Facts for Pork and Beans
Calories and Macronutrients
One cup or approximately 172 grams of canned pork and beans (prepared) contains approximately:
- 233 calories
- 10 grams protein
- 42 grams carbohydrates
- 1 gram fiber
- 4 grams sugar
- 3 grams fat
Pork and beans are high in protein and carbohydrates but low in fat, with only 3 grams of fat per serving. The protein makes pork and beans filling while the carbohydrates provide energy.
Pork and beans contain small amounts of several important micronutrients:
- Iron: 10% Daily Value
- Potassium: 6% DV
- Magnesium: 7% DV
- Phosphorous: 9% DV
- Zinc: 6% DV
- Copper: 13% DV
- Manganese: 16% DV
- Selenium: 14% DV
The iron, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, and copper help support many essential bodily functions. Manganese aids nutrient absorption while selenium has antioxidant effects.
The main nutritional downside of canned pork and beans is the high sodium content. One serving contains 750 mg of sodium, or 32% of the recommended daily limit. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2300 mg of sodium per day.
Benefits of Pork and Beans for Weight Loss
Here are some of the key reasons why pork and beans can be beneficial for losing weight:
With 10 grams of protein per serving, pork and beans are an excellent source of plant-based protein. Protein increases satiety, keeping you full for longer after eating. One study found that increasing protein intake to 25-30% of total daily calories boosted weight loss.
Low Energy Density
Foods that are low in energy density provide fewer calories per gram. Beans are naturally low in energy density. This allows you to eat a larger portion size while consuming fewer calories. Feeling full and satisfied can prevent overeating.
The fiber in beans and pork helps slow digestion, preventing spikes in blood sugar. Stable blood sugar prevents energy crashes that lead to cravings and overeating. The fiber in pork and beans may also suppress appetite hormones.
Pork and beans offer a balanced mix of protein, complex carbs, and a small amount of fat. This nutrient profile can help maintain stable energy levels compared to simple carbs. The mix of nutrients may optimize metabolism as well.
Potential Downsides for Weight Loss
While pork and beans offer many weight loss benefits, there are also some potential downsides to keep in mind:
High Calorie Density
If you eat a large portion, even healthy foods like beans can add up in calories. Measure portion sizes carefully to keep calories under control.
Beans contain sugars called alpha-galactosides, which we lack the enzymes to fully digest. For some, this can lead to gas, bloating or diarrhea. Introduce beans gradually to allow your body to adjust.
To reduce water retention and bloating, limit sodium to 2300 mg per day at most. Rinsing canned beans can decrease the sodium content. Opt for low-sodium options when possible.
Blood Sugar Effects
While beans have a low glycemic index, pork and beans combined may have a higher glycemic load. Pair pork and beans with non-starchy vegetables to help manage blood sugar.
Are Pork and Beans Keto?
The ketogenic or keto diet emphasizes very low carb intake, usually limiting carbs to just 20-50 grams per day. While beans contain beneficial nutrients, their higher carbohydrate content makes pork and beans unsuitable for a strict keto diet.
Just one serving of pork and beans contains around 42 grams of total carbohydrates, accounting for nearly the full day’s carb limit on keto.
So while pork and beans offer protein, fiber and vitamins, they are too high in carbs to fit into a ketogenic eating plan. Beans would need to be limited to a very small portion size on keto.
Glycemic Index and Load
The glycemic index (GI) measures how much a food raises blood sugar. Beans have a low GI, meaning they are digested and absorbed slowly, preventing spikes and crashes in blood sugar.
However, the glycemic load takes into account the total carb content. While beans themselves have a low GI, a large serving of pork and beans contains enough carbs to have a moderately high glycemic load.
Therefore, beans are best paired with non-starchy vegetables, protein and healthy fats to help manage blood sugar levels. Limiting portion sizes of beans can also help maintain a low glycemic load.
Effect on Cholesterol and Heart Health
Several aspects of beans make them heart healthy:
The soluble fiber in beans can lower total and LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol in the digestive tract, carrying it out of the body before it can be absorbed.
Substituting beans for sources of saturated fat like red meat can lower cholesterol. Bean protein is naturally free of cholesterol.
Getting enough potassium helps balance sodium levels, improving blood pressure. Beans are a good source of potassium.
Beans contain folate, a B vitamin that plays a role in converting homocysteine, a compound linked to heart disease risk.
Overall, incorporating beans like pork and beans into an eating pattern that also includes produce, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats can support heart health.
Do Pork and Beans Cause Gas?
It’s true – beans are one of the most common causes of gas. Here’s why:
Beans contain sugars called oligosaccharides, including raffinose and stachyose. Enzymes in the small intestine can’t fully break these sugars down. These undigested sugars then get fermented by gut bacteria, producing gas.
The soluble fiber in beans also resists digestion, providing a fermentation source for intestinal bacteria, resulting in gas.
Not everyone experiences increased gas from eating beans. Tolerance varies based on the types of microbes present in your intestines. Some people digestive systems adapt better to breaking down bean sugars and fiber.
Reducing Gas from Beans
Methods to help minimize gas from bean include:
- Start with small servings and increase gradually
- Soak and rinse beans before cooking
- Try an over-the-counter gas remedy like Beano
- Increase soluble fiber gradually
- Stay well hydrated
Nutrition Comparison: Pork and Beans vs. Black Beans
How do pork and beans compare nutritionally to plain canned black beans?
Calories and Macronutrients
1 cup or 172g cooked:
|Pork and beans
Black beans contain slightly fewer calories and higher protein and fiber. Pork and beans offer more sugar and fat due to the sauce.
– Pork and beans: 750mg sodium
– Black beans: 140mg sodium
Plain black beans contain much less sodium since they don’t include a sauce. Rinsing canned beans helps reduce sodium further.
Both foods offer a range of micronutrients like iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium and B vitamins. Variety is key to get all essential vitamins and minerals.
Pork and beans can be part of a healthy diet and may provide certain weight loss benefits due to the fiber, protein and nutrients. However, portion size needs to be controlled given the calories, carbs and sodium. Introduce beans gradually to minimize gas. For maximum nutrition, enjoy pork and beans along with a diverse diet high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and plant-based protein.