Beans are a very versatile food group – there are so many types of them, and you can enjoy them in countless recipes.
Whether you prefer baked beans on toast, a spicy burrito, or a three-bean salad, there is a good chance that at least one of your comfort foods has beans in it. But how good are beans actually for your stomach? Are beans acidic?
Are Beans Acidic?
Yes, beans are acidic, but they are on the lower end of the pH scale, on which acidity is measured. This scale ranges from 0 to 14, and the higher on the scale something is, the less acidic. Values from 0 to 6 are considered acidic, 7 is neutral, and 8 to 14 are alkaline. Beans range from 5 to almost 7, which makes them acidic, but not very much.
Different kinds of beans have different acidity levels, though, and of course, the preparation method always makes a big difference.
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While soybeans are not very acidic – they have pH levels between 6.00 up to 6.60 – they are only rarely consumed in their bean form. In this case, they are called edamame, are harvested before becoming ripe and hard, and are often used as appetizers in Asian cuisine.
The most common soy products are soy sauce, tofu, and soy milk. With a pH level of 7 to 7.20, tofu and soy milk are neutral, making them less acidic than unprocessed beans. On the other hand, soy sauce is more acidic than the beans it is made of.
Lima beans are another type of bean that is close to neutral with a pH level of 6.50. They are very healthy and an amazing source of iron – just one cup of lima beans contains about a quarter of the recommended daily iron intake.
Kidney beans and black beans both have pH values between 5.50 and 6.00. Both of these are often used in Mexican-inspired dishes like chili, tacos, or burritos. Since these often contain hot sauce, spices, tomatoes, and lemons, the complete meal will be rather acidic anyway.
With a pH value of 5.60, string beans, which are also often called green beans, are one of the more acidic beans. But just because they are acidic for beans does not mean that they are generally one of the more acidic fruits or vegetables; on the contrary!
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Even though the pH levels of different types of beans vary, they are comparatively low acidity and are good sources of fibers and nutrients. This makes them great additions to a health-conscious diet.
Still, it is always important to be aware of preparing beans and the other ingredients and spices that you use to ensure a stomach-friendly meal.
Are Beans Fruits Or Vegetables?
Beans belong to the realm of tricky “vegetables,” like tomatoes and pumpkins, which are actually fruits in disguise. Colloquially, we tend to differentiate between fruits as anything that tastes sweet and is eaten in desserts or breakfast, and vegetables as those plants that taste more savory and are prepared for lunch or dinner.
Scientifically, the difference between fruits and vegetables lies in which part of a plant they come from. Fruits are those things that develop from the flower of a plant, but vegetables can be any other part of the plant, like roots (potatoes), stems (celery), or leaves (spinach).
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Therefore, fruits contain seeds – you can see this in strawberries and tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and cucumbers.
Beans are a special case in that they belong to a group of plants called legumes. These plants produce fruits and seeds in a pod, and the beans we eat are – aside from the case of string beans – not the whole fruit but just the seeds.
Their special status is also why beans, which we commonly consider to be vegetables, are a much better source of plant-based protein than actual veggies.
Alicia is the senior content editor and writer here at Food FAQ. She has extensive experience with acid reflux, heartburn, GERD, and various supplements. When not eating food for “research”, she’s watching “Friends” for the 100th time.