Consumption of nutrient rich foods such as beans and peas is recommended because these foods provide key nutrients and relatively little energy. Many consumers are unfamiliar with dried beans or do not have the time to prepare them. The purpose of this study was to compare nutrient density and nutrient-to-cost among dried cooked, canned (liquid and solids), and canned/drained black, garbanzo, kidney, lima, pinto, white beans, and black-eyed peas. Prices were obtained from 60 grocery stores in January 2009. Nutrient content per 100 g was calculated using the U.S. Department of Agriculture Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 22, and Nutrition Data System for Research (for canned/drained). Nutrient density scores were estimated using the Nutrient Rich Food Index 9.3 (NRF9.3). Nutrient-to-cost ratio (NTCR) was computed as the NRF 9.3 score (per 100 kcal) divided by the cost per half-cup servings per package (12) or per can (3.5). Compared to canned beans, dried cooked beans were significantly more energy dense, contained more protein, fiber, iron, potassium and magnesium; and less sodium than canned beans (p < 0.05 for all). Canned/drained beans contained more sodium than cooked beans (p < 0.05). NRF9.3 scores were 7.3, 2.8, and 4.8 for cooked, canned, and canned/drained beans, respectively. NTCR for cooked, canned, and canned/drained beans was 63.4, 8.9, and 15.2, respectively. Results highlight the benefits of choosing dried beans and also illustrate that canned beans, when drained, provide a healthy alternative. Beans, regardless of type/form, are a nutrient rich food and should be encouraged as part of an overall healthy diet.
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