Is It Safe To Eat Canned Beans Without Heating Them Up?

There's no denying that canned beans make our weeknights easier. Compared to dried beans, which typically require an overnight soak and several hours of cooking time, canned beans take only minutes to turn into a complete meal. Whether you're making black bean veggie burgers or incorporating them into your smoothies for extra protein, these legumes are a welcome addition to almost anyone's diet.

In most recipes that call for them, canned beans get cooked. This makes sense: Not only will the beans get heated through, but their texture will likely improve, the flavors will meld with the recipe's other ingredients, and you'll end up with a cohesive dish. But if you're truly in a pinch (or using the beans for a cold dish), is that step always necessary?

According to Martha Stewart magazine, the answer is no — beans are edible straight from the can. However, there are some important caveats to consider.

What to consider when eating beans straight from the can

Per Martha Stewart magazine, canned beans typically come in a super-salty liquid — even varieties labeled "low sodium" can contain a significant amount of salt. As such, you'll likely want to drain and rinse your canned beans before eating them (unless there are different directions on the recipe).

According to a study by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 2009, per The Bean Institute, 36% of sodium is removed, on average, during the process of draining your canned beans. And, if you drain and rinse your beans, that will eliminate an average of 41% of the can's sodium content.

The reason that beans are safe to eat straight from the can is pretty simple: They're already cooked. According to Epicurious, beans are blanched before being canned with water, salt, and other additives — all of which help keep the shelf-stable beans fresh for long periods of time. The sealed, canned beans are then cooked under steam pressure at a high temperature before landing at your local grocery store.