Although they have been cultivated and cooked with for thousands of years in South America, black beans did not cross the Atlantic until the 1500’s in the boats of European explorers. Black beans are very popular with vegetarians, because when they are combined with brown rice, a “complete protein” is formed. For such an unassuming little legume, black beans are packed with nutrients that affect our bodies in countless ways. Black beans are very high in fiber and protein, and rich with vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, calcium, iron, and manganese. Black beans also have high levels of flavonoids, which have antioxidant abilities, particularly anthocyanin, and contain some omega-3 fatty acids, which is considered a “good” form of cholesterol. Black beans are a great source of folic acid in a diet, and have abnormally high levels of the rare compound molybdenum, which is very difficult to add naturally to a health regimen. The health benefits of black beans include the prevention of cardiovascular disease and a reduced risk of certain types of cancer. Consuming black beans can also aid in digestive health and the regulation of the body’s blood sugar levels. Black beans can also be beneficial for various nervous system functions, can reduce the chances of birth defects, neutralize the negative effects of sulfites, and even prevent impotence in men.