Dry beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) are a nutrient-dense food rich in protein and micronutrients. Despite their nutritional benefits, long cooking times limit the consumption of dry beans worldwide, especially in nations where fuelwood for cooking is often expensive or scarce. This study evaluated the nutritive value of 12 dry edible bean lines that vary for cooking time (20-89 min) from four market classes (yellow, cranberry, light red kidney, and red mottled) of economic importance in bean-consuming regions of Africa and the Americas. When compared to their slower cooking counterparts within each market class, fast-cooking dry beans retain more protein and minerals while maintaining similar starch and fiber densities when fully cooked. For example, some of the highest protein and mineral retention values were measured in the fast-cooking yellow bean cultivar Cebo Cela, which offered 20% more protein, 10% more iron, and 10% more zinc with each serving when compared with Canario, a slow-cooking yellow bean that requires twice the cooking time to become palatable. A Caco-2 cell culture model also revealed the bioavailability of iron is significantly higher in faster cooking entries (r = -0.537, P = 0.009) as compared to slower cooking entries in the same market class. These findings suggest that fast-cooking bean varieties have improved nutritive value through greater nutrient retention and improved iron bioavailability.
Keywords: Caco2 cell culture; Phaseolus vulgaris L.; cooking time; dry beans; iron; iron bioavailability; phytate; protein; zinc.