Are Black Beans or Pinto Beans Healthier for Your Bones? 

Black beans and pinto beans are healthy for your bones, supplying vital nutrients for the structure of your bone matrix. In addition, disease-fighting nutrients like potassium and magnesium are available for optimal health. They are comparable in nutrients; black beans contain more magnesium, while pinto beans offer more calcium and potassium.  

Strong bones are part of maintaining your independence as you grow older. Eating foods that contain vital nutrients for bone health is essential.   

Black beans vs. pinto beans nutrition 

Black bean and pinto bean comparison

Beans are superfoods for strong bones 

Older women are at a higher risk for loss of bone mineral density due to the decreased estrogen levels following menopause. To combat this, women can perform weight-bearing activities and focus on bone-building nutrients to help preserve and build bones.  

Bones constantly break down and rebuild. This process is known as remodeling. A healthy diet containing essential nutrients helps to ensure you can rebuild bone as much or more than you break it down.  

Beans are healthy players for the bone matrix since they provide vital nutrients such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and protein, all important for bone health.   

Potassium for strong bones 

Not consuming enough potassium leads to a more significant breakdown of your bones than rebuilding of them.   

In a study on older Korean women, those who consumed more potassium-rich foods in their eating patterns had beneficial effects on their bone health with fewer cases of osteoporosis. Fortunately, beans provide potassium! 

Calcium for strong bones 

A constant blood calcium level is required for your heart to beat continuously, your nerves to transmit impulses, and the muscles throughout your body to contract as needed.  

Therefore, if you do not get enough calcium in your diet, your blood will take the calcium from your bones as needed. Nutrient-packed beans help you get the calcium you need to preserve this precious mineral in your bones.  

Magnesium for strong bones 

Frequently, older women have lower levels of magnesium, especially if post-menopausal. This population has been observed to consume less magnesium-containing foods than is recommended.  

In a review of 28 studies on magnesium and bone health, more cases of osteoporosis existed. Women have a higher risk of bone fracture with lower levels of this nutrient. Magnesium is easily found in beans.   

Protein for strong bones 

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, women do not eat the recommended amount of protein foods. But if you include beans regularly in your eating pattern, this will help you consume optimal amounts of protein.  

Researchers report that consuming more protein than the recommended 0.8 grams per kilogram daily is associated with better bone density. You can calculate your minimum protein needs by dividing your weight in pounds by 2.2 and then multiplying your answer by 0.8. 

(W ÷ 2.2) x 0.8 = P 

This number equals the minimum suggested amount of protein. So, if you weighed 150 pounds, it would look like this. 150 ÷ 2.2 = 68kg x 0.8 = 54.5 grams of protein (round up to 55). You want to consume at least 55 grams of protein daily for bone health. 

Other foods that are good for bones 

It may surprise you that the following foods are also good for your bones! We point out the bone-building nutrients in each food below that are found in beans. 

  • Figs – potassium and magnesium  
  • Oranges – potassium, calcium, and magnesium  
  • Almonds – potassium, calcium, magnesium, and protein 
  • Other nuts – potassium and magnesium  
  • Dairy milk – potassium, calcium, magnesium, and protein  
  • Soy milk – potassium, calcium, magnesium, and protein  
  • Calcium set tofu – potassium, calcium, and protein 
  • Sardines with bones – potassium, calcium, magnesium, and protein 

Maintaining your bone health

Black beans and pinto beans are both healthy for your bones. One isn’t more nutritious than the other. They provide similar nutrients, so go with your preferences. Like all beans, they contribute to your overall good health! 

More nutrition and wellness information on building bones can be found in our blog on Bone Builders for Women 50 Plus and in our book, Advancing to a Healthier You!   

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Stephanie Turkel is a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Texas. She has 30 plus years of experience in the nutrition field. She now takes her gained knowledge and shares it with you to explain science articles into easy-to-understand information.

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Grace Rivers, RDN, CDCES

Grace is a registered dietitian nutritionist residing in Texas. She has over 30 years of experience in nutrition. Grace loves translating science articles into easy-to-understand information for you.


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