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This Is Dan Buettner's Favorite Type Of Bean For Longevity, In Case You're Curious

Assortment Of Dried Beans And Legumes
Image by Nadine Greeff / Stocksy
April 12, 2021

Dan Buettner has a thing for beans. If you're familiar with the National Geographic fellow and founder of Blue Zones, chances are you've heard about his affinity for the longevity-enhancing staple once or twice. "My main cabinet, it's almost all beans," he says on the mindbodygreen podcast. "I have about 10 kinds of beans." 

We know it's difficult to play favorites, but we simply had to ask Buettner if he had a go-to type. His answer? "There's an argument that black beans are the healthiest beans." Below, he breaks down why this bean tops his list for longevity. 

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Buettner's favorite bean for longevity. 

Different-colored foods boast different types of antioxidants—for example, most red-hued foods (bell pepper, pomegranate, et al.) contain anthocyanins, a class of anti-inflammatory flavonoids that has been shown helpful against cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and more1

As for black beans: "The same pigment that makes beans black is the pigment that makes blueberries blue, and that pigment carries a lot of antioxidants," notes Buettner. In fact, many experts (Buettner included) believe darker-colored foods denote more nutrient density—the fruit or veggie is brimming with nutrients, and that's what makes the pigment so deeply hued. 

As Deanna Minich, Ph.D., IFMCP, a functional nutritionist who studies plant-based pigments, once told us, "If I had to be on a desert island and somebody said, 'Deanna, I'm either giving you blueberries or blackberries to survive,' I would choose the blackberries." Nothing against the shade of blue, of course, but the theory is the darker the fruit or veggie, the more phytonutrients it likely contains. 

All that to say, if Buettner had to pick a favorite, he would reach for black beans. But that doesn't mean you should brush off the pinto and kidney beans of the world: "I'm a big fan of eating the type of bean you like," he explains. "They're all great, and they all offer different properties." So even though black beans boast tons of nutrients, you still want an array of diverse phytochemicals for your gut. If that means chucking a variety of beans into a minestrone soup (Buettner's favorite recipe), so be it. 

The takeaway. 

Plenty of experts—Buettner included—believe that the darker the fruit or veggie, the more nutrient-dense it may be. That said, black beans would reign supreme. Nothing against the other beans, though! As Buettner notes, "The [most] important thing is that you get some variety."

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