Great northern bean plant

The navy bean got its current popular name because it was a staple food of the United States Navy in the early 20th century. These small white beans are perfect for making baked beans. Dry navy beans are available year-round in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. Canned navy beans are also available year round at local markets.

Navy beans are small, pea-sized beans that are creamy white in color. They are mild-flavored beans that are dense and smooth. Like other common beans, navy beans are one of 13,000 species of the family of legumes, or plants that produce edible pods. Combined with whole grains such as rice, navy beans provide virtually fat-free high quality protein.

Navy Beans, cooked
1.00 cup
(182.00 grams) Calories: 255
GI: low
vitamin B136%

This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Navy beans provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Navy beans can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Navy beans, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.

  • Health Benefits
  • Description
  • History
  • How to Select and Store
  • Tips for Preparing and Cooking
  • How to Enjoy
  • Individual Concerns
  • Nutritional Profile


Health Benefits

Navy beans are an excellent source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other beans. In addition to lowering cholesterol, navy beans’ high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. When combined with whole grains such as brown rice, navy beans provide virtually fat-free high quality protein. But this is far from all navy beans have to offer. Navy beans are a very good source of folate and manganese and a good source of protein and vitamin B1 as well as the minerals phosphorus, copper, magnesium and iron.

A Fiber All Star

Check a chart of the fiber content in foods and you’ll see legumes leading the pack. Navy beans, like other beans, are rich in dietary fiber. Soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract that combines with bile (which contains cholesterol) and ferries it out of the body. Research studies have shown that insoluble fiber not only helps to increase stool bulk and prevent constipation, but also helps prevent digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis.

Lower Your Heart Attack Risk

In a study that examined food intake patterns and risk of death from coronary heart disease, researchers followed more than 16,000 middle-aged men in the U.S., Finland, The Netherlands, Italy, former Yugoslavia, Greece and Japan for 25 years. Typical food patterns were: higher consumption of dairy products in Northern Europe; higher consumption of meat in the U.S.; higher consumption of vegetables, legumes, fish, and wine in Southern Europe; and higher consumption of cereals, soy products, and fish in Japan. When researchers analyzed this data in relation to the risk of death from heart disease, they found that higher legume consumption was associated with a whopping 82% reduction in heart attack risk!

Navy beans’ contribution to heart health lies not just in their fiber, but in the significant amounts of folate and magnesium these beans supply. Folate helps lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is an intermediate product in an important metabolic process called the methylation cycle. Elevated blood levels of homocysteine are an independent risk factor for heart attack, stroke, or peripheral vascular disease, and are found in between 20-40% of patients with heart disease. It has been estimated that consumption of 100% of the daily value (DV) of folate would, by itself, reduce the number of heart attacks suffered by Americans each year by 10%. Just one cup of cooked navy beans provides 63.7% of the recommended daily intake for folate.

Navy beans’ good supply of magnesium puts yet another plus in the column of its beneficial cardiovascular effects. Magnesium is Nature’s own calcium channel blocker. When there is enough magnesium around, veins and arteries breathe a sigh of relief and relax, which lessens resistance and improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Studies show that a deficiency of magnesium is not only associated with heart attack but that immediately following a heart attack, lack of sufficient magnesium promotes free radical injury to the heart. Potassium, an important electrolyte involved in nerve transmission and the contraction of all muscles including the heart, is another mineral that is essential for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. Navy beans are ready to promote your cardiovascular health by being a good source of this mineral, too. A one cup serving of navy beans provides over 700 mg of potassium, making these beans an especially good choice to protect against high blood pressure and atherosclerosis.

Navy Beans Give You Energy to Burn While Stabilizing Blood Sugar

In addition to its beneficial effects on the digestive system and the heart, the dietary fiber found in navy beans helps stabilize blood sugar levels. If you have insulin resistance, hypoglycemia or diabetes, navy beans can really help you balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy. Studies of high fiber diets and blood sugar levels have shown the dramatic benefits provided by these high fiber foods. Researchers compared two groups of people with type 2 diabetes who were fed different amounts of high fiber foods. One group ate the standard American Diabetic diet, which contained 24 grams of fiber/day, while the other group ate a diet containing 50 grams of fiber/day. Those who ate the diet higher in fiber had lower levels of both plasma glucose (blood sugar) and insulin (the hormone that helps blood sugar get into cells). The high fiber group also reduced their total cholesterol by nearly 7%, their triglyceride levels by 10.2% and their VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein—the most dangerous form of cholesterol) levels by 12.5%.

Iron for Energy

In addition to providing slow burning complex carbohydrates, navy beans can increase your energy by helping to replenish your iron stores. Particularly for menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency, boosting iron stores with navy beans is a good idea—especially because, unlike red meat, another source of iron, navy beans are low in calories and virtually fat-free. Iron is an integral component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is also part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism. And remember: If you’re pregnant or lactating, your needs for iron increase. Growing children and adolescents also have increased needs for iron. A one cup serving of navy beans provides 24% of the daily recommended intake for iron.

Copper & Manganese—More Help with Energy Production Plus Antioxidant Defenses

Navy beans are a very good source of manganese and a good source of copper, trace minerals that are essential cofactors of a key oxidative enzyme called superoxide dismutase. Superoxide dismutase disarms free radicals produced within the mitochondria (the energy production factories within our cells).

Copper is also necessary for the activity of lysyl oxidase, an enzyme involved in cross-linking collagen and elastin, both of which provide the ground substance and flexibility in blood vessels, bones and joints.

As explained above, iron is primarily used as part of hemoglobin, the molecule responsible for transporting and releasing oxygen throughout the body. But hemoglobin synthesis also relies on copper. Without copper, iron cannot be properly utilized in red blood cells. Fortunately, Mother Nature supplies both minerals in navy beans.

Maintain Your Memory with Thiamin (Vitamin B1)

Thiamin participates in enzymatic reactions central to energy production and is also critical for brain cell/cognitive function. This is because thiamin is needed for the synthesis of acetylcholine, the important neurotransmitter essential for memory and whose lack has been found to be a significant contributing factor in age-related impairment in mental function (senility) and Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is clinically characterized by a decrease in acetylcholine levels.

Protein Power Plus

If you’re wondering how to replace red meat in your menus, become a fan of navy beans. These hearty beans are a good source of protein, and when combined with a whole grain such as whole wheat pasta or brown rice, provide protein comparable to that of meat or dairy foods without the high calories or saturated fat found in these foods. And, when you get your protein from navy beans, you also get the blood sugar stabilizing and heart health benefits of the soluble fiber provided by these versatile legumes. A cup of navy beans provides about 15 grams of protein.


Navy beans are small, pea-sized beans that are creamy white in color. They are a mild-flavored bean that is dense and creamy.


Navy beans and other beans, such as pinto beans and black beans, are all known scientifically as Phaseolus vulgaris. They are referred to as “common beans” probably because they all derived from a common bean ancestor that originated in Peru.

From there, beans were spread throughout South and Central America by migrating Indian trades. Beans were introduced into Europe in the 15th century by Spanish explorers returning from their voyages to the New World. Spanish and Portuguese explorers brought them to Africa and Asia.

As beans are a very inexpensive form of good protein, they have become popular in many cultures throughout the world. The navy bean got its current popular name because it was a staple food of the United States Navy in the early 20th century. Today, the largest commercial producers of dried common beans, including the navy bean, are India, China, Indonesia, Brazil and the United States.

How to Select and Store

Dried navy beans are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins are covered and that the store has a good product turnover rate to ensure maximal freshness.

Whether purchasing navy beans in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure there is no evidence of moisture or insect damage and that beans are whole and not cracked.

Canned navy beans can be found in most markets. Unlike canned vegetables, which have lost much of their nutritional value, there is little difference in the nutritional value of canned navy beans and those you cook yourself. Canning lowers vegetables’ nutritional value since they are best lightly cooked for a short period of time, while their canning process requires a long cooking time at high temperatures. On the other hand, beans require a long time to cook whether they are canned or you cook them yourself. Therefore, if enjoying canned beans is more convenient for you, by all means go ahead and enjoy them. We would suggest looking for those that do not contain extra salt or additives. (One concern about canned foods is the potential for the can to include a liner made from bisphenol A/BPA. To learn more about reducing your exposure to this compound, please read our write-up on the subject).

Store dried navy beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place where they will keep for up to 12 months. Cooked navy beans will keep fresh in the refrigerator for about three days if placed in a covered container.

Tips for Preparing and Cooking

Tips for Preparing Navy Beans

Before washing navy beans, spread them out on a dark colored plate or cooking surface to check for and remove stones, debris or damaged beans. Then place the beans in a strainer, rinsing them thoroughly under cool running water.

To shorten cooking time and make them easier to digest, navy beans should be presoaked. There are two basic methods for presoaking (presoaking has been found to reduce the raffinose-type oligosaccharides, sugars associated with causing flatulence.) For each, start by placing the beans in a saucepan with two to three cups of water per cup of beans.

The first method is to boil the beans for two minutes, take the pan off the heat, cover and allow to stand for two hours. The alternative method is to simply soak the beans in water for eight hours or overnight, placing the pan in the refrigerator so that the beans will not ferment. Before cooking the beans, drain the soaking liquid and rinse beans with clean water.

The Healthiest Way of Cooking Navy Beans

To cook the beans, you can either cook them on the stovetop or use a pressure cooker. For the stovetop method, add three cups of fresh water or broth for each cup of dried beans. The liquid should be about one to two inches above the top of the beans.

Bring the beans to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, partially covering the pot. If any foam develops, simply skim it off during the simmering process. Navy beans generally take about one to one and one-half hours to become tender using this method.

Navy beans can also be cooked in a pressure cooker where they take about one-half hour to prepare. Regardless of cooking method, do not add any seasonings that are salty or acidic until after the beans have been cooked, since adding them earlier will make the beans tough and greatly increase the cooking time.

How to Enjoy

A Few Quick Serving Ideas
  • Make a delicious sandwich spread by blending cooked navy beans in a food processor with olive or flax oil and your favorite herbs and spices.
  • Add a protein punch to tomato soup by serving it with some pre-cooked navy beans mixed throughout.
  • Mix cooked navy beans with olive oil, sage and garlic and serve on bruschetta.
  • Combine navy beans with cooked roasted buckwheat and healthy sautéed onions and shiitake mushrooms for a hearty main dish.
  • Use navy beans to make delicious and nutritious white chili.
  • Add cooked and cooled navy beans to a salad of leeks and chard and top with a rosemary vinaigrette.

Individual Concerns

Oxalate Content

Navy beans consistently been determined to have high oxalate content. Oxalates are naturally occurring organic acids found in a wide variety of foods, and in the case of certain medical conditions, they must be greatly restricted in a meal plan to prevent over-accumulation inside the body. Our comprehensive article about oxalates will provide you with practical and detailed information about these organic acids, food, and health.

Nutritional Profile

Navy beans are an excellent source of dietary fiber and a very good source of both folate and manganese. They are also a good source of many minerals including copper, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. In addition, navy beans are a good source of protein and vitamin B1.

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

In order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good, or good source (below the chart you will find a table that explains these qualifications). If a nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not necessarily mean that the food doesn’t contain it. It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in a sufficient amount or concentration to meet our rating criteria. (To view this food’s in-depth nutritional profile that includes values for dozens of nutrients – not just the ones rated as excellent, very good, or good – please use the link below the chart.) To read this chart accurately, you’ll need to glance up in the top left corner where you will find the name of the food and the serving size we used to calculate the food’s nutrient composition. This serving size will tell you how much of the food you need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients found in the chart. Now, returning to the chart itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in order to find the nutrient amount it offers, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling.” Read more background information and details of our rating system.

Navy Beans, cooked
1.00 cup
182.00 grams Calories: 255
GI: low
Nutrient Amount DRI/DV
World’s Healthiest
Foods Rating
fiber 19.11 g 68 4.8 very good
folate 254.80 mcg 64 4.5 very good
copper 0.38 mg 42 3.0 good
manganese 0.96 mg 42 2.9 good
phosphorus 262.08 mg 37 2.6 good
vitamin B1 0.43 mg 36 2.5 good
protein 14.98 g 30 2.1 good
iron 4.30 mg 24 1.7 good
magnesium 96.46 mg 23 1.6 good

In-Depth Nutritional Profile

In addition to the nutrients highlighted in our ratings chart, here is an in-depth nutritional profile for Navy beans. This profile includes information on a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.

  • Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986. 1986. PMID:15210.
  • McIntosh M, Miller C. A diet containing food rich in soluble and insoluble fiber improves glycemic control and reduces hyperlipidemia among patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nutr Rev 2001 Feb;59(2):52-5. 2001.
  • Menotti A, Kromhout D, Blackburn H, et al. Food intake patterns and 25-year mortality from coronary heart disease: cross-cultural correlations in the Seven Countries Study. The Seven Countries Study Research Group. Eur J Epidemiol 1999 Jul;15(6):507-15. 1999.
  • Queiroz Kda S, de Oliveira AC, Helbig E et al. Soaking the common bean in a domestic preparation reduced the contents of raffinose-type oligosaccharides but did not interfere with nutritive value. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) 2002 Aug;48(4):283-9. 2002.
  • Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988. 1988. PMID:15220.

About Navy Beans


  • Used in Boston baked beans, a quintessential American dish
  • Found in Senate Bean Soup, on the menu daily in the U.S. Senate’s restaurant
  • Similar in flavor and texture to Great Northern beans

Scientific name: Phaseolus Vulgaris

The Navy Bean Story

Also called “white pea” or alubias chica in Spanish, the navy bean is a variety of common bean, which originated in Peru several thousand years ago. Why “Navy”? Because of their super-charged nutritional value, low cost, and long storage life, in the 19th century the U.S. Navy began issuing these beans as standard ration for sailors on their warships.

A common method for preparing navy beans is to bake them. The United States, Britain, and Canada (with its French tradition of the cassoulet) have a long history of baking beans. Baked beans are so popular in the historic East Coast city of Boston that it’s called “Bean Town.”

An interesting Navy Bean tradition is found in Washington, D.C., in the restaurant of the U.S. Senate: Senate Bean Soup has been on the menu every day since about 1903, as the story goes. The origin of this tradition is not completely clear: Some say that it was begun by Idaho Senator Fred Dubois in the early 20th century, while others say that Minnesota Senator Knute Nelson is responsible. Dubois’ recipe called for mashed potatoes, but the soup served today calls for braised onion.

Navy beans are also used in a Hungarian bean soup called bab leves and in a Serbian bean soup called pasulj. As baked beans, they are delicious when flavored with barbecue sauce or chipotle pepper seasoning.

Our favorite Navy Bean links:
Idaho Bean Commission Bean Facts
U.S. Senate Bean Soup Recipe
How to Cook Beans and Peas
How to Soak Your Beans
Navy Bean Recipes
Camellia Brand Navy Beans

Various pulses – chickpea, lentil and beans; ID 148764941; PO: today-food / Magdalena Kucova

Beans are hot these days! This food is high in soluble fiber, low in fat, and has no cholesterol. Sodium is naturally low, but some canned beans have up to 590 mg of sodium per half-cup serving or about one fourth of a day’s recommendation for those without hypertension, so read those labels.

Beans are an excellent source of protein (7 to 8g or 21 percent and up), complex carbohydrates (65 percent and up) and have about 225 calories per cup. Soaking the beans before cooking is essential to avoid flatulence. If you’re new to cooking dried beans, introduce them into your diet in small amounts until you build a higher tolerance, and always serve them with grains or rice.

Beans are part of a food category called legumes and grow in pods then are shelled and dried. Other legumes are peas, which are round and generally sold fresh or frozen, and lentils, which are flattish and round, are sold dried, and come in various tones of gray, green and coral. Beans are either round, kidney-shaped, or oval shapes with varying degrees of size and thickness. They come in many colors, flavors and textures and add a great deal of nutrition to any meal, primarily protein and complex carbohydrates. Because they do not have essential amino acids, it is important to combine them with grains.

Varieties of beans:

Beans are very inexpensive, and offer at least six cups of cooked beans for six to 12 servings. Most packages are for a pound, but some are 12 ounces, so check the label if quantity is essential to the dish you want to prepare.

KIDNEY beans are large, almost 3/4 inch, and have a definitive kidney shape and are nearly maroon in color. This is the bean to use for chili because they’re hearty, and take well to spices. Long cooking time, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

LIGHT RED KIDNEY beans are similar to their darker relative and are the bean for the Southern dish red beans and rice. Same cooking time as kidney beans.

PINTO (pink) is the staple of Mexican cooking, and is a pinkish-mauve color that turns brownish when cooked. Some variations are mottled, being and brown medium ovals. Cooking times vary from one to two hours depending on size. This is the favored bean for whole or refried beans in burritos and tacos.

Special note on Refried Beans or frijoles refritos: Refried beans begin with onions and garlic sautéed in lard or oil, to which spoons full of cooked pinto beans are added, mashed, and cooked until they are thicker than mashed potatoes. Sometimes a little broth or water is added. The intriguing thing is that they are not re-fried at all. One theory for this misnomer is that in Mexican Spanish, “re” is a way to emphasize doneness, such as these beans are well done or cooked thoroughly. They are not, however, fried two times.

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CRANBERRY (Roman bean) is a favorite in Italian recipes. This medium, mottled tan and red bean is oval in shape, takes to spices well, and is very tender with modest cooking (45 to 60 minutes.)

GARBANZO beans (chickpeas), popular in Middle East cuisine, are the basis for hummus, the bean spread spiked with garlic and olive oil. They’re an imperfect round, beige and give both a nut-like flavor and firm texture. Use whole in soups or salads or grind up cooked beans for hummus or for frying for falafel balls. Modest cooking time of 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Skins should be discarded because they’re difficult to digest.

BLACK-EYED BEANS (black-eyed peas) are the ones to bring luck into your life on New Year’s Day as the southern custom asserts. These beans are white with black dots and have a light, very smooth texture. They cook quickly, from 30 to 60 minutes.

BLACK (turtle beans) are medium-sized black oval beans, that are popular in Caribbean cooking and adapt well to South and Central American dishes for which a heartier, earthier, smoother bean is desired. Medium cooking time of 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

NAVY beans are not navy blue as one would expect, but small white ovals that add a mild flavor to soups and salads and could be used in baked beans. They belong to the haricot bean (white bean) family, and cook in 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

GREAT NORTHERN beans are another relative of the haricot bean (white bean) family, but larger than navy beans, yet offer a similar mild, white bean taste that is great in soups and stews and in the classic French dish, cassoulet. They cook quickly, about 45 to 60 minutes.

LIMAS are plump, slightly curved beans that are pale colored and come in two sizes: small (baby lima) white, with a creamy smooth texture, or slightly larger (butter beans) that are pale green to white. Both are good alone or added to soups or casseroles. Modest cooking time 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

RED LENTILS cook in under an hour and are a great in soups and casseroles.

The battle of the beans: Canned vs. dry

Nearly every bean that is sold in dried form is sold pre-cooked in cans including garbanzo, red kidney, Great Northern white or black beans, pinto, and navy beans. Also available in cans are whole, and both French and Italian cut green beans that are not available in dried form, but also come fresh or frozen. Organic, low sodium and low fat varieties are also available.

Although dried beans are a very inexpensive source of protein, it’s hard to argue with the additional expense of buying precooked beans in cans. With the convenience of saving time soaking, cooking, and seasoning beans, all you need to do is open a can and use them in salads, or heat them up in other dishes. So, while you could get four cups of cooked beans from a package of dried beans for under 60 cents, and you get only one cup for 90 cents to $1.50 for canned beans, it’s still such a modest investment that convenience here makes sense.

How to choose:

Dried beans should look even in color, shape and size. It’s important to rinse them before soaking to determine if there are any stray pebbles or dirt that escaped the packager. Beans that look wrinkled or misshapen should be avoided. Soak dry beans according to directions, usually several hours to overnight, and cook completely from 1/2 to 2 hours. Salt after cooking to avoid toughening. Once cooked, they can be stored in the refrigerator for several days and added to salads, rice, pasta, or stews as desired.

Canned beans can have a tremendous amount of sodium, from 140 to 500mg for a half-cup serving, so consider rinsing canned beans thoroughly with cold water before using them in your recipes although that won’t eliminate all the salt cooked into the beans. Canned foods have been around for more than one hundred years and are generally safe; however modern improvements to the materials offer some advantages. You might want to consider those cans, especially from organic suppliers, that use non-reactive enamel linings rather than the conventional cans made with bisphenol-a, an epoxy resin that can disrupt endocrine levels. In addition to high quantities of added salt, even in “low salt” versions, some canned beans contain soybean or canola oil, and textured soy flour or autolized yeast for thickening the sauce which are perfectly acceptable ingredients. Some products use disodium EDTA, calcium chloride, and sodium sulfite and their value is not conclusive. All that is necessary to preserve cooked beans in cans are the beans, water, and salt.

Storage tips:

Store unopened bags of dry beans in a cool, dark cupboard for a maximum of one year; after that they will lose some of their natural moisture and need longer cooking times, although the nutrients will remain. Once the package is opened, either store the bag inside a zipped plastic bag, or pour out the leftover beans into a porcelain, glass or stainless steel canister with a tight seal.

Store all unopened cans in cool dark cupboard. Store leftover refried beans in a separate container with a well-fitting lid and refrigerate. Use within five days. Always buy cans that are clean and well-built; there should be no rusting or bulging, which indicates botulism is present.

Phil Lempert, The Supermarket Guru, reports on food and retail trends and consumer behavior. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. For more 101’s on your favorite foods and for more about the latest trends on the supermarket shelves, visit

Jump to Recipe

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A comfort food classic from my mom’s recipe book, these Navy White Beans are tender, simply seasoned and can be flavored to suit any dish. She used to add sliced franks to stretch the meal and it always reminds me of her. Isn’t food great for the memories it evokes?

My mom taught and showed me so many things, but cooking was a favorite thing we both enjoyed doing together and sharing.

When she passed away my Dad asked if I wanted anything of hers and I asked if I could go through her cookbooks and recipes so I could pass on my favorites and keep the memories alive.

Here is a simple yet satisfying white bean meal I always loved. Very easy and with a salad and crusty french bread it is a wonderful meal.

This a perfect one to keep the chill off, perfect comfort lunch or dinner.

Other Soup Recipes You Might Enjoy

This is a tried and true family recipe for navy white bean soup. This has tender navy white beans, a delicate flavored broth with thyme, lots of cooked carrots, celery and onion.

Easily add sausage, franks or chicken for a heartier meal. Enjoy!

This recipe first appeared on Kevin Is Cooking on January 2014 and has been updated with a video and new photos.

Mom’s Navy White Beans

A tried and true family recipe for white bean soup. Easily add sausage, franks or chicken for a heartier meal. 3.98 from 46 votes Pin Course: Soup Cuisine: Western Keyword: bean soup, navy white beans, white beans Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 4 hours Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes Servings: 8 Calories: 125kcal Author: Kevin Is Cooking


  • 16 oz bag of white navy beans
  • 1 large yellow onion chopped into bite size pieces
  • 2 large carrots chopped into bite size pieces
  • 2 celery stalks chopped into bite size pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 4 sprigs of thyme tied
  • 1 tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Soak the beans overnight in water covering the beans by 1 inch.
  • In a large soup or stock pot add the olive oil and the chopped onion, carrot, celery. Sauté for 6-8 minutes.
  • Drain the water from the beans and rinse. Add the beans to the stock pot with the sautéed vegetables and stir to mix in. Add the thyme bundle, garlic and fresh water to cover beans by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, cover and lower heat to simmer for 4 hours or until beans are soft, but not mushy (See Note 1).
  • Season to taste and serve with crusty bread.


  1. At this stage it can be seasoned to reflect whatever type of soup you want, be it French with thyme and tarragon, Mexican with cumin, Italian with Italian herbs, etc.
    You can also add fresh franks from the butcher and cook for an additional 20 minutes, but sometimes I like to add chicken.
  2. If using a slow cooker cook on high for 4 hours. If using an Instant Pot, set to Manual for 20 minutes.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 125kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 3g | Sodium: 310mg | Potassium: 315mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 2615IU | Vitamin C: 3.8mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 1.5mg Have you made this recipe? Let me know on InstagramTag @KevinIsCooking and hashtag me #keviniscooking! 7Kshares

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Navy Beans

Navy beans, also known as haricot or Boston beans, are a small-sized legume. These dried white beans are grown in Australia, are non-GMO and have no added preservatives. Navy beans have a light flavour, natural savoury aroma and smooth texture when cooked. They are delectable in savoury dishes and traditionally used to make baked beans. They pair with fresh herbs or hotter spices equally well and are great in vegetarian recipes.

How to Use:

Navy beans should be pre-soak in plenty of cold water (in a large bowl with room for beans to double in size) for a minimum of 4 hours before cooking. This removes the naturally occurring Lectin and Saponin found in many pulses, which can impede digestion. Drain, rinse well and place beans in a pot of cold water, 1:3. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 60-90 minutes or until tender. Do not add salt while cooking, as this can make outer skins of legumes tough. Drain and use or refrigerate for up to 2 days. Add pureed tomatoes, ham hock or bacon (optional), sautéed onion, cloves, mustard and paprika for hearty home-made baked beans. Yummy cooked navy beans can be chilled and added to salads or used hot in hearty soups and hotpots. They are particularly good in curries and spiced dishes. Left-over spicy beans are a scrumptious topper for baked potatoes with grated cheese or sour cream. These beans are a delicious ingredient for vegetarian burgers, while smashed navy beans are great in dips; mix with spicy salsa and serve with avocado and crackers.


Ingredients: Navy Beans (Haricot). Preservative Free, Non-GMO, No Added Sugar.


This product contains No Known Allergens. May also contain traces of Soy, or other allergens due to possible cross-contamination.


Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. Refrigeration recommended in warm climates.

Shelf Life:

Up to 24 months when stored as above. See Best Before date.

Please contact your local store to check availability. Not available in all stores. Images for illustrative purposes only.

Navy beans don’t get their name for their color. Instead, the small white beans, similar in size to a pea, were branded as such because they were once a staple of sailors’ diets in the U.S. Navy. The little legumes were big on nutrition, cost little and stored well. But navy bean isn’t its only moniker. It’s also known as the Boston bean because it’s the star in Bean Town’s flagship dish, Boston baked beans. Pea bean, haricot, white pea bean — call it what you will. For as many names as the navy bean has, it offers even more health benefits for older adults.

Navy Bean Nutrition Facts & Health Benefits

1. Navy beans are complex carbohydrates.

Instead of providing an instant rush of energy like refined carbs, such as sugar, navy beans release their energy more slowly into the bloodstream while stabilizing blood sugar levels. In other words, navy beans keep us more even-keeled throughout the day.

2. Navy beans are loaded with dietary fiber.

Navy beans are low in fat and a rich source of dietary fiber. One cup of cooked navy beans contains 19 grams of fiber (a healthy balanced diet for older adults includes 25-38 grams of fiber a day). The dietary fiber in navy beans helps fill you up, so it’s ideal for appetite and weight control.

3. Navy beans are an excellent source of iron.

One cup of cooked navy beans also offers nearly one-quarter of our daily iron needs. Iron is an essential mineral that keeps energy levels up by transporting oxygen through the body, yet it’s one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in North America.

4. Navy beans help regulate metabolism.

Navy beans provide a whopping amount of manganese, a nutrient that’s primary function is to help the body metabolize vitamins, carbohydrates, amino acids and cholesterol. One cup of cooked navy beans provides about half of the manganese we need every day.

5. Navy beans are a rich source of two B vitamins.

One cup of cooked navy beans contains more than 60% of the folate and more than 25% of the thiamin we need each day. B vitamins not only play a critical role in keeping our brains healthy, they also help convert food into fuel for energy, keeping our metabolism humming and our cardiovascular system strong.

6. Navy beans are an excellent source of vegan protein.

One cup of cooked navy beans packs 15 grams of protein, 30% of what we need every day. According to research conducted on dietary protein recommendations for older adults, we should take in as much as 50-75 grams of protein every day.

7. Navy beans are good for our skin.

Navy beans can help in the anti-aging process thanks to the abundance of copper they contain. Copper helps the body produce collagen, a protein that gives skin strength and elasticity. We produce less collagen as we get older, however. But eating one cup of cooked navy beans gives us nearly one-fifth of the copper required every day to keep collagen production up to snuff.

How to Add Navy Beans to Your Diet

Remember beans and wieners as a kid? Those starchy sidekicks to your franks were navy beans. Heinz started canning navy beans with molasses and tomato sauce in the late 1800s, making baked beans a staple of the North American diet.

Navy beans also feature in the famous Senate Bean Soup, a concoction of beans and ham hocks served every day in the U.S. Senate cafeteria since the early 1900s.

Navy beans are also sold dry in most grocery stores, making them a blank slate for creative cooks who want to add a hit of protein and fiber to soups, stews and cassoulets. One cup of dried beans gives about two and a half cups of cooked beans. Batch cook navy beans to add to salads or soups throughout the week.

Here are three healthy recipes with navy beans to try:

1. Kale, Quinoa and White Bean Soup From Simple Veganista

Get the recipe

Simple Veganista

2. Navy Bean and Escarole Stew with Feta and Olives by Bon Appétit

Get the recipe

Bon Appétit

3. Boston Baked Beans from Serious Eats

Get the recipe

Serious Eats

What are the health benefits of beans?

Beans offer several health benefits.

1. Protein

Protein is a vital nutrient that plays a key role in maintaining and repairing the body. Beans are high in amino acids, the building blocks of protein.

There are 20 amino acids, and nine of these are essential. There are also two types of protein sources: complete and incomplete.

Animal products, soy, and quinoa are all complete proteins, which means they contain all nine essential amino acids.

However, of all the types of beans, only soybeans contain all nine amino acids.

People can combine incomplete proteins with nuts, seeds, dairy products, or grains at a single meal or throughout the day to make complete proteins.

For example, a person can:

  • eat beans with rice or couscous for lunch
  • have black beans at lunch with almonds or cheese

Beans make an excellent source of protein for vegetarians and vegans.

They are also lower in calories and saturated fat than some other protein sources, such as meat and full fat or low fat dairy products.

Examples of the protein content of beans are:

A 1-cup, or 40 grams (g), serving of canned black beans provides 14.5 g of protein, 16.6 g of fiber, and 4.56 milligrams (mg) of iron.

A 1-cup, or 155 g, serving of shelled edamame beans provides 18.5 g protein, 8.06 g fiber, and 3.52 mg iron.

Learn more here about proteins and how to get more protein.

2. Folate

Beans contain several vital nutrients, including folate. Folate is essential for overall health, to make healthy red blood cells, and help prevent neural tube defects in a fetus during pregnancy.

A 1-cup, or 155g, serving of shelled edamame beans provides 482 micrograms (mcg) of folate.

3. Antioxidants

According to research, beans are rich in polyphenols, which are a type of antioxidant.

Antioxidants fight the effects of free radicals, which are damaging chemicals that the body produces during metabolism and other processes.

Free radicals can cause cell damage that can result in various diseases. Antioxidants help the body remove free radicals. In this way, antioxidant-rich foods, such as beans, can help protect the body from disease.

Find out about other foods that provide antioxidants.

4. Heart health

People who consume beans regularly may be less likely to die of a heart attack or other cardiovascular problem. The authors of a 2017 meta-analysis suggested that one reason for the decrease in cardiovascular risk was that people had replaced higher fat animal meat proteins with beans.

A 2013 review and meta-analysis found a clear correlation between eating beans and a lower risk of coronary heart disease.

Other research suggests that nutrients in beans may help lower cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease and heart attacks.

There is evidence that a high fiber diet may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

A half-cup, or 88 g, serving of black beans provides about 14 g of fiber, which is over half an adult’s daily requirement for fiber.

Here, get some tips on foods that can help lower blood pressure.

5. Reduced risk of cancer

Some studies have shown that beans act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. These effects could reduce the risk of cancer.

Research published in 2015 analyzed whether beans might have antioxidant properties that fight intestinal cancer. The results suggested that black beans had the highest antioxidant activity.

A 2016 study also found that chemicals in Northeast China black beans could slow the growth of colorectal cancer by preventing cancer cells from multiplying.

Learn more here about foods that provide antioxidants.

6. Diabetes and glucose metabolism

Beans may help stabilize blood glucose levels or even prevent diabetes. Beans are high in fiber, which can help lower blood glucose.

The author of a 2018 review concluded that consuming a high fiber diet could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. There was also evidence that it may help lower blood sugar in people who already have the condition.

Another study looked specifically at the effect of adding a cup of legumes to the daily diet of people with type 2 diabetes. This study showed a reduction in blood sugar levels and lower blood pressures in the group who ate beans over the control group who included more whole wheat fiber.

Which foods are good for lowering blood sugar? Find out here.

7. Preventing fatty liver

Fatty liver happens when fats accumulate in the liver. It can develop alongside obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other aspects of metabolic syndrome.

Doctors base the treatment of fatty liver disease on weight loss and controlling blood sugars, as well as reducing blood levels of fats, such as triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol. Replacing higher fat animal proteins with beans is a good step towards better liver health.

Here, learn about some more foods that can help protect the liver.

8. Controlling appetite

When a person eats beans, the fiber and healthful starches they contain can help create a feeling of fullness and satisfaction.

As a long-term dietary strategy, this could help prevent overeating and may lead to weight loss, according to a 2013 review.

9. Improving gut health

Research has shown a variety of beans, especially black beans, enhance gut health by improving intestinal barrier function and increasing the number of beneficial bacteria. This may help prevent gut-associated diseases.

Healthful gut bacteria also support immune system function and may promote weight loss. Beans feed the healthful gut bacteria colonies.

What foods should you eat for a healthy gut?

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The Colours of Dried Beans

During winter when other seasonal ingredients become hard to come by, grains such as dried beans become staples in the kitchen. Beans are low fat and come fully loaded with a variety of nutrients. Although some people prefer eating canned beans, fresh dried beans are usually cheaper and they come loaded with loads of texture and flavour. Canned beans are usually saltier than dried ones, so you may want to consider that before you make your next purchase of canned beans.

Beans go by different names based on the part of the world in which they are grown. In some parts of the world, bans are also known as legumes, lentils, dahls or pulses. There are many varieties of beans out there, each with their own distinct characteristics, textures, flavours and colours. There are over 14,000 species of the Fabaceae family that exist but only about 20 types are cultivated and used as food. Since legumes are easy to grow and store for extended periods, human beings have been eating beans as a staple food for hundreds if not thousands of years.

The Types and Colours of Beans

White Beans

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There are various types of white beans that include cannellini, baby lima, navy and great northern beans. Even though these beans differ in their sizes and flavours, the simple truth is that white beans are often used interchangeably and you will still end up with tasty and delicious beans. Navy beans are small and oval shaped and because they cook quickly, they are often used for pureeing in dips or mashed to make soups, stews and ragouts thicker.

Great Northern beans are medium sized and valued for their nutty and mild flavour. They are great for using in soups and stews because they maintain their shape better than smaller varieties of beans. Cannellini beans are the largest type and are often referred to as white kidney beans. Baby lima beans are small, creamy and often produce a buttery flair. Since they are starchier than other white beans, they are great for use in casseroles.

Red or Pink Beans

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Red beans are often referred to as red kidney beans. Kidney beans are named so because they have a similar shape as kidneys. Dark red or pink in colour, red beans are smoother and have more texture than most other types. Red beans are packed full of minerals, fatty acids and proteins and are incorporated beautifully in a number of dishes such as chilli and soup.

Black Beans

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Black beans are large and kidney-shaped with a shiny exterior and a white seam to differentiate them from other varieties. Black beans are used commonly for soups owing to their mild mushroom flavour. There are different types of black bans such as black magic beans, domino, raven beans and Blackhawk beans. black beans are a staple in many central and south American cuisines.

Heritage Brown Beans

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Brown beans are also quite widely accessible and are picked for their soft and buttery texture. Brown beans come in an array of brown shades and markings. Some are completely brown while others are speckled or have brown markings to differentiate them from the rest.

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How to Grow Great Northern White Beans | Guide to Growing Great Northern White Beans

Harvesting Guide
Harvesting beans is an ongoing process. You can start to harvest anytime, but gardeners usually wait until the beans begin to firm up and can be snapped. They are generally about as think as a pencil then. Don’t wait too long, because beans can become overgrown and tough almost overnight. Harvest by gently pulling each bean from the vine or by snapping off the vine end, if you are going to be using the beans right away.

Depending on whether the bean is a snap, shell, or dry variety will impact when and how the bean should be harvested.

Snap beans are harvested while the pod and enclosed seeds are still relatively immature. Compared to the other two types of beans, snap beans have the smallest window for an ideal crop. Beans that are harvested too early will not develop the proper flavor and texture. On the other hand, beans that are allowed to develop on the plant too long will be tough and somewhat unpalatable. Perhaps the best simple indicator for snap beans is the diameter of the pods. Generally, most varieties will yield the best snap beans with a diameter between ⅛-1/4″. Maybe the best way to determine suitability for harvest is to sample a pod or two before making a complete harvest. It is worth noting that many varieties of snap beans that are allowed to develop completely also make good dry beans.

Shell beans are harvested at a later time than snap beans, once the pods have started to fill out and the enclosed seeds developing inside are apparent. Beans of such varieties are removed from pods and are often eaten fresh, but are sometimes dried.

Dry beans are not harvested until the pods and enclosed seeds have reached complete maturity, and will often require threshing to remove extraneous pod material. When growing dry beans, it is especially important that growing plants have plenty of space and ventilation so that pods will dry out. If experiencing a spell of rain late in the season once pods have matured, plants can be removed from ground and hung upside down indoors to allow dessication to continue.


It is a suggested that you earmark a couple of plants at the beginning of the season for seed saving. Don’t pick ANY pods from them to eat – just pick the crisp brown pods at the end of the season. Don’t feed them, or water them unless it is very dry – as this can encourage leafy growth rather than pod development. There is no point in picking green pods as the seeds are not mature enough at this stage.

Did you know you can save the roots, overwinter in a frost-free place, and replant next year? Runner beans are perennial, but are frost sensitive, so die back in our climate. However, if the roots are dug up and kept in suitable conditions, the plants often get away early and crop faster. If you grow a lot of beans, this may not be a practical option, but you could try it with one or two plants perhaps. Store the roots in a frost-free place, buried in slightly moist sand or leafmould, or something similar.

Bean Seeds (Bush) – Great Northern HEIRLOOM – OPEN POLLINATED

When to Plant:

  • They should be directly seeded in the spring when soil reaches 65-75F (18-24C), and there is no longer a risk for a frost.
  • Bush beans are determinate, meaning they grow to a certain size, about 2’ tall, blossom, turn out a single harvest of beans and then die.
  • If you want a large crop to be ready almost all at once for canning or freezing, sow all of the seeds at the same time.
  • If you want a higher, continuous yield throughout the season, you can have a succession of plantings with increments of 10 days, for example.

How to Plant:

  • Bush beans are very simple to grow; they do well in most gardens and in most soil types.
  • Prepare the beds by amending with compost and organic material so that you have loose, well-drained soil.
  • Beans grow best in temperatures between 50-85F, in full sun.
  • Sow your bush beans 1 inch deep and 4-6” apart, with rows 18-24” apart.

How to Harvest:

  • Harvest bush beans 50-60 days after sowing when pods are about 3” – 5″ long and before you see the outline of the beans inside.
  • A mature bush bean feels smooth, firm and crisp.
  • For use as dried beans, allow beans to dry on the vine for weeks after normal harvesting time.
  • Pull the entire plant out from the soil and shell beans over a large table or tray.

If you are growing bush beans for multiple years in a row, rotate your planting area yearly. This will help prevent any soil-borne diseases from killing the beans as seedlings.

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