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The Best Bean

Which legume has the highest antioxidant content?

September 30, 2008 |
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Supplementary Info

Sources Cited



Don’t get cocky though. There are many other magic beans out there. Chickpeas, split peas, lentils, kidney beans, and yellow split peas. This is what the graph looks like. Two of those in that list belong in the same antioxidant-packed class as black and pinto beans, but there are three loser legumes… Now Number 3… are those wonderful dark red kidney beans, but what’s #2?

Four left to choose from. Three of these are relative losers, but one of them is the number two most power-packed antioxidant legume on the planet. Chickpeas, split peas, lentils, or yellow split peas. Anyone sitting want to shout out any advice for our remaining contestants? Who say’s #2 is chickpeas? Who says it’s split peas? Who says lentils? Who says yellow split peas? Let’s see who’s right.

Everyone who said yellow split peas, “peas” sit down. Whoever said green split peas, also wrong. And finally, whoever said lentils you win! Lentils number 2; chickpeas number 7! Chickpeas are still super healthy but nothing compared to these superstars.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Dianne Moore.

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Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out "Beans, Beans, Good for Your Heart" to learn more about beans' beneficial effects. If you're worried about the gassiness of beans, check out my blogpost Clearing the Air. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos--please feel free to explore them as well!

For some context, please check out my associated blog post: The Best Foods: test your nutrition knowledge.

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out “Beans, Beans, Good for Your Heart” to learn more about beans’ beneficial effects. If you’re worried about the gassiness of beans, check out my blogpost Clearing the Air. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

    • Alex

      Thank you for your wonderful site! Could you please say whether cooking beans in their soaking water is best, or dump the water. Thanks!

  • Rohit Mehta

    I’m allergic to every bean (I get the dangerous kind of hives) except for soy (white, or black), garbanzos, favas, peanuts and lentils. Could I be allergic to an antioxidant? Is there any way I can neutralize the allergenic component of these foods and safely eat vegan bean burritoes?

  • Chelsea

    Rohit: I believe that food allergies occur because of an intolerance to a specific amino acid (protein). You cannot neutralize this component of the food, unfortunately. There IS hope for you to enjoy a vegan burrito! I have used lentils as the bean filling and even pureed soybeans to get the same texture as the re-fried pinto beans. Add some veggies and salsa, and you’ll still be able to enjoy the vegan goodness of a burrito!

  • BPC

    You can increase black bean consumption by making your own black bean hummus with the following recipe:

    Blend 2 cups of cooked black beans, 1/4 cup of tahini, 3 Tbsp lemon juice, 3 Tbsp olive oil, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tsp ground cumin and 1/2 tsp salt. Optionally, add some black pepper/cayenne to taste and garnish with parsley or cilantro.

  • Kpaddles

    Does this include red lentils as well as green lentils?

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    For some context, please check out my associated blog post The Best Foods: Test Your Nutrition Knowledge!

  • Bruce

    The topic states Best – here you are using antioxidants the key for all you judgements.
    I wonder if there are other things which must be considered in the makeup of these plants which should be considered to judge thier value in nutrician.

  • Han

    Hi Dr. Greger,

    Is there a risk of eating too much beans, particularly soy or black beans?

    I’ve substituted beans in place of most of the carbohydrates (bread/rice/oatmeal) in my diet. Per day, I eat 2 cups of dried beans (soaked/rinsed/pressure cooked):

    1lb (1 1/2 cup) of dried black beans
    1/2 cup of dried soybeans

    Is there any risk to eating this many beans?

  • lovestobevegan

    A tasty way to incorporate the bean with the most antioxidants
    and the apple highest in antioxidants; at least it was until this newest
    study (

    Apple Chili

    -3 cups cooked black beans
    -1 large red onion, chopped
    -4 cloves garlic, minced
    -2 large organic red delicious apples, chopped
    -4 medium tomatoes, chopped or jar of tomatoes
    -½ cup water/homemade vegetable broth
    -1-2 tbsp chili powder
    -1 tsp oregano
    -1 tbsp cinnamon
    -½ tsp cayenne pepper
    -black pepper and sea salt
    -maple syrup to taste (optional)

    In a large pot sauté onion and garlic in a splash of water/broth until onions
    translucent. Add remainder of ingredients except salt and cook over low heat until apples thoroughly cooked. Season to taste with black pepper and sea salt.

    If you own a pressure cooker use 1 cup dry black beans (rinsed and sorted). Add all ingredients except salt to the pressure cooker and cook for approximately 15 minutes. Season to taste with black pepper and sea salt.

  • lovestobevegan

    Use this guilt-free, nutritious, and delicious dessert to incorporate
    the bean with the most antioxidants and the healthiest chocolate fix (
    into your diet.

    Black Bean Brownies

    -2 cups cooked black beans
    -1 large very ripe banana, mashed
    -½ tbsp vanilla extract
    -1/3 cup cacoa powder
    -pinch cayenne pepper
    -pinch sea salt

    Mash beans to desired consistency. Mash banana in a separate bowl and add to beans. Add vanilla and stir to combine. Stir in cacoa powder, cayenne pepper, and sea salt until thoroughly mixed. Spread mixture in a glass baking dish and cut into squares. No baking necessary.

  • Paul

    What about adzukis?

  • Mark Hazell

    Michael, I’m wondering why you’re basing the “best bean” based on antioxidant content? What about other nutrients? Is there any other type of bean (not listed in the video) that trumps the black bean?

  • bingo2

    It was very hard to understand the best beans vidieo. Which Beans did you say were the best? in order from best to lest .

    • Tommasina

      Bingo2, I think it’s black beans, lentils, red kidney beans, then pinto beans for the top four in order from best to lest. :) You’re right though, the audio is a bit confusing here!

  • bingo2

    I forgot to add to last post. What about the Adzuki Beans. I heard they are the best .?

  • Eskil J.

    I know this is an old video but the cited source is no longer available.

    Perhaps this 2010 issue has changed data. I’m not sure.

  • Ardna

    what about pole beans or string beans?? Are they the same?

  • Beano

    I think you need to redo the audio on this. I starts in a way that indicates some of the audio is left off. Also, I think you’ve really refined your voice over style and this one is a little slow and Orson Wellish:)

  • Mary L – Mary’s Test Kitchen

    Your link for Sources Cited no longer works. Here is the Database for the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity released in 2010:


    • Tommasina

      @marystestkitchen:disqus thank you so much for pointing that out! I just updated the link. :)

  • ifyoucareenough

    Huh, I’m confused. Anyone want to make it clearer? I didn’t quite get the order

    • JacquieRN

      It does a time or 2 to catch the order, starting from best = black beans, lentils, red kidney beans, pinto beans, yellow/green split peas and chickpeas (garbanzo beans).

      In case you are in the hunt for more bean information try here:

      • ifyoucareenough

        Thank you. I thought yellow or green split peas were considered one and the same with lentils? If not, so what are examples of lentils?

        • Tommasina

          They look similarly but they are actually different. Not to advertise for Whole Foods, but I just found this great chart on their website that describes the differences between a few different pulses: .

          • ifyoucareenough

            Thank you Tommasina, I will save that page. I was thinking that dahl is made of yellow split peas (because when I make it with curry it tastes exactly like it) but I just looked up dahl, and it can be made of a combo of lentils, peas, and beans. I eat mostly chick peas, I like them the best. So I guess I should diversify more with the black beans, etc. The page you gave is very handy for how to prepare.

  • Toby

    Hi — I’m not sure this upload begins at the start of your presentation — I watched it a few times.

    In any case, there’s another lentil – used in Indian cooking — urad dal or black gram. Indians consider it to be especially nutritious. I’ve never cared for its consistency but it would be worth looking into and letting us know about it. It might rate even higher than the red lentil.

  • Jerry Taylor

    everybody gets too literal… eat beans, all beans. Eat veggies, all veggies, eat fruit, all fruit, eat grains, all grains… nuts, seeds. Keep a varied and colorful kitchen

  • Jerry Taylor

    if you can’t eat something than don’t eat it… eat something else

  • Max22

    I eat green split peas for fiber, nothing beats them on that. (except guar gum, but that’s not a food, is it?)