Black Beans and Bean Sprouts Fight Cancer

black bean sprouts

Photo by Sandi Barr

By Case Adams, Naturopath

Researchers from Mexico’s prestigious Monterrey Institute of Technology have determined that black bean sprouts are anticarcinogenic against breast cancer, liver cancer and colon cancer cells.

The researchers sprouted black beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) and then tested them and their constituents against cancer cell lines of various types of cancers. The researchers found that after three days and five days of germination, the phytonutrient extracts isolated from the sprouts were able to inhibit the growth of all the cancer cells tested.

They also tested the same sprout isolates against non-cancerous (healthy) cells as controls, and found no negative impact upon healthy cells.

The sprouts only inhibited the cancer cells.

The researchers then isolated some of the constituents of the sprouted beans, and found that the saponins and flavonoids had the greatest inhibition against liver and colon cancer cells. Meanwhile the genistein content of the sprouts was found to inhibit the breast cancer cells.

The researchers also found the black bean sprouts to be particularly high in antioxidants.

Early sprout research as documented by Hofsten (1979) and others has determined that during the germination process many nutrients are increased or made more available for assimilation. Other research (Chen and Pan 1977) found that phytic acid in soy beans decreased 22% while the enzyme phytase increased 227% after five days of soybean germination. Because phytic acid/phytate will bind minerals, nutrients like calcium and zinc are more assimilable. Also the oligosaccharides that produce flatulence are hydrolyzed during germination, making bean sprouts easier to digest.

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This doesn’t mean that only the sprouts from black beans have antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. A study last winter from the Complutense University of Madrid found that raw, cooked and germinated black beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) all had anti-tumor effects, particularly with colorectal and breast cancer as well as melanoma cancer cells. The raw beans had the most anti-tumor effects in this research.

Other research has determined that black beans are also particularly high in a number of phytonutrients, including flavonols like quercetin and kaempferol, and anthocyanins. They also found black beans high in polyphenols like ferulic acid and chlorogenic acid. All of these are potent antioxidants and have been shown to stimulate the immune system.


Guajardo-Flores D, Serna-Saldívar SO, Gutiérrez-Uribe JA. Evaluation of the antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of extracted saponins and flavonols from germinated black beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). Food Chem. 2013 Nov 15;141(2):1497-503.

López A, El-Naggar T, Dueñas M, Ortega T, Estrella I, Hernández T, Gómez-Serranillos MP, Palomino OM, Carretero ME. Effect of cooking and germination on phenolic composition and biological properties of dark beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). Food Chem. 2013 May 1;138(1):547-55.

Ranilla LG, Genovese MI, Lajolo FM. Polyphenols and antioxidant capacity of seed coat and cotyledon from Brazilian and Peruvian bean cultivars (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). J Agric Food Chem. 2007 Jan 10;55(1):90-8.

Case Adams is a California Naturopath with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn ones health around. As I drove home that night, I realized I needed to get this knowledge out to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.” Case connects with the elements by surfing, hiking and being a beach bum.

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