SaVanna Shoemaker, RDN

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Black Soybeans: Nutrition, Carbs, Prep, & Mexican Style Black Soybean Recipe

Text reads "What Are Black Soybeans?" and there is a photo of Mexican style black soybeans with cilantro and lime on a white plate.

Missing beans on keto, or plant-based and looking for a new whole foods protein source to mix it up with? It might be time to give black soybeans the ol’ college try.

What are black soybeans?

Black soybeans are exactly that: soybeans that have a black exterior. With the exception of their darker-colored hull, though, they’re pretty identical to conventional yellow soybeans. They’re low in carbs and loaded with protein and fiber.

The magic of these soybeans is that they have a milder, more bean-like taste than the regular ones – which makes them the most perfect low carb substitute for beans of all kinds.

Until fairly recently they weren’t commonly used in the states, but they’re a popular food in Korea.

Unless you happen to have a natural grocer or an Asian grocer nearby, you’ll probably have to order them online.

Black soybeans nutrition

Here’s what you’ll get from 1/2 cup of canned black soybeans [1]:

  • 130 calories
  • 11 grams protein
  • 5 grams fat
  • 11 grams carbs
  • 6 grams fiber

Black soybeans are chock full of good stuff, like protein, healthy fats, and fiber. That means they’re extra filling (and this is something I can personally attest to).

They’re also loaded with nutrients. Just one serving provides 15% of your daily needs for zinc and magnesium, two essential minerals that can sometimes be difficult to get from plant-based foods.

Additionally, black soybeans get their dark hulls from compounds called anthocyanins. These antioxidants can help neutralize unstable free radical compounds that cause damage to your body at a cellular level [2].

Are black soybeans keto?

Black soybeans are PERFECT for low carb diets… including keto!

At just 5 grams of net carbs per serving (that’s total carbs minus fiber, because you don’t digest fiber), black soybeans can totally be part of your keto diet – as long as you stick to a single serving.

Compared to beans that can be upwards of 30 grams of net carbs per serving, black soybeans are an excellent way to enjoy your favorite bean dishes without all the carbs.

Downsides

Like other high-fiber foods, eating too many of these (esp if you’re not used to lots of fiber) can cause some… unpleasant digestive hiccups, shall we say.

But what I really want to dive into is the nutrition war that’s raging over soy, and if it’s something you need to be concerned about.

The soy controversy

Soy is in everything these days. Soybean oil. Soy lecithin. Textured vegetable protein. (Yup, it’s soy!)

The major concern a lot of people have with soy is that it contains phytoestrogens, or plant-based compounds that mimic the hormone estrogen [3].

For men in particular, this can be cause for concern, as high levels of estrogen in men can cause some health problems. However, elevated estrogen levels can cause issues for women, too [3, 4].

Fortunately, most current research indicates that eating soy is OK in most cases. Glyphosate exposure may be a concern, but you can circumvent this by buying non-GMO soy [5, 6].

My personal recommendation? Try to minimize your exposure to highly processed foods made with soy, as they’re usu not great for you anyway. But because they’re a minimally processed, whole foods form of soy, I highly doubt that black soybeans will expressly cause you harm (unless you’re allergic or you choke on them), so having some every once in a while seems totally fine in my book.

But if you’re not comfortable with it? Skip em. You do you!

For more reading on this topic, I highly recommend reading the “soy” section of Diet Doctor’s food policy.

Black soybeans with cilantro and a lime wedge on a white plate.

Cooking

Black soybeans are a great, low carb and high fiber alternative to black beans (or pretty much any kind of bean… I don’t think they’d work in a white chicken chili though *shrug*). I personally use them in chili and taco soup aaaaaaaalll winter long. They also make baller refried beans that are excellent for taco nights.

The texture is “not quite bean,” I’d say. I think they’re a fine substitute, but they don’t get as tender as beans do during cooking.

Dried

Full disclosure, I’ve never actually cooked with dried black soybeans before.

But essentially, they cook up just like dried beans. Sort em, rinse em, soak em, cook em, and enjoy!

Personally, I’ll stick to canned. Time is $$$ (and sanity)!

Canned

I <3 canned black soybeans. The brand I use is Eden Organic.

Here are my two key tips for cooking with them:

  • After you open the can, dump that joker straight into a colander and rinse the beans very well. The liquid they’re canned in is seaweed based… and smells like it.
  • Cook the drained beans in at least some liquid so they don’t get crunchy on the outside. For easy refried beans, I cook the soybeans in a little bit of water, butter, and spices before I mash em up. It’s not perfect or authentic, but it’s tasty and gives me a little more variety on taco night.
A can of Eden Organic black soybeans.

Where to buy

My favorite place to buy canned black soybeans is Vitacost. And no, no affiliate links here (for now) – I just really love Vitacost AND they happen to sell these babies for loads cheaper than other sites (including Amazon), even factoring in the cost of shipping.

I actually have about 10 cans in my pantry right now. When my stockpile gets below 5 it’s honestly kind of a crisis, lol.

Buy Eden Organic Black Soybeans (Vitacost)

FYI, if you’re interested in trying the dried ones, Vitacost sells those too.

Buy Shiloh Farms Organic Black Soybeans (Vitacost)

Mexican style black soybeans with cilantro and a lime wedge on a white plate.

Keto Mexican Style Black Soybeans

SaVanna Shoemaker, RDN
These keto-friendly Mexican style beans (made with black soybeans) are a perfect low carb addition to taco night.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Servings 3 1/2-cup servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 stalks green onion thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 can Eden Organic black soybeans drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chicken bone broth
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, then add the green onion and garlic and cook until fragrant and soft.
  • Add in black soybeans, chicken bone broth, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper. Increase heat to high and bring the pot to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer until most of the liquid has cooked off, about 7-10 minutes.

Notes

These are the perfect side dish and you can mix up the flavors endlessly to complement any main course. They’re also a great addition to tacos or taco bowls. If you prefer a refried beans, mash your black soybeans after cooking. You may need to add a little bit more chicken bone broth and butter to keep them smooth.
Nutrition Information: per 1/2 cup serving
  • Calories: 165
  • Fat: 10 grams
  • Protein: 12 grams
  • Total carbs: 10 grams
  • Fiber: 8 grams
  • Net carbs: 2 grams

Here’s the direction I took my most recent batch of these beans in: a taco bowl with cauliflower rice, shredded chicken, avocado, black soybeans, cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, and cilantro. YUM!

A taco bowl containing cauliflower rice, shredded chicken, black soybeans, cheese, sour cream, avocado, hot sauce, cilantro, and a lime wedge.

Takeaway

  • Black soybeans are soybeans with a black outer hull and a milder taste than conventional soybeans.
  • They’re rich in protein, healthy fats, and fiber – making them super filling.
  • Because of their low net carb count, black soybeans are the perfect bean substitute for keto.
  • You may be concerned about the soy, but as a whole food it’s much healthier than highly-processed soy-based foods.
  • Canned or dried, they can be used to sub out beans in pretty much any recipe, although they are firmer and have more of a bite to them. They’re especially great in chili, with tacos, or to make refried beans.

Hi, I’m SaVanna, a freelance writer and registered dietitian.

I’m crazy obsessed with meal planning, cooking, and keto – and that’s what you’ll find on this blog! As a busy WAHM of 2, I’m constantly trying to strike a balance between quick and easy, carb-conscious, kid-friendly, and picky-husband-approved meals. And personally, I think I do all right. Be sure to browse through my recipes and nutrition posts for some family-friendly meal inspo and tips for low carb success!

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