Plant Foods for Human Nutrition

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 53–61 | Cite as

Effects of altitude above sea level on the cooking time and nutritional value of common beans

  • Ricardo Bressani
  • Carlos Chon


The present study was conducted with the objective to determine the effects of altitude above sea level, on the cooking time and nutritional value of common black beans (Phaseolus vulgaris). Three 100 g samples of theOstua variety were cooked at 8 individual locations, ranging in altitude from 0 to 2256 meters, in Guatemala, to establish water uptake and cooking time. The cooked samples were separated into cooked beans and cooking broth for chemical analysis. This included moisture, protein, lysine, tannins, total and enzyme susceptible starch, and fiber fractionation. The cooking liquor was analyzed for total solids, moisture, protein, ash and K. A 1200 g sample was cooked for the cooking time established previously, for biological testing of nutritional value,which included Net Protein Ratio (NPR), Protein Effciency Ratio (PER), and protein digestibility. Altitude influenced cooking time which increased from 78 min at 0 m, to 264 min at 2256 m. Final moisture content in the cooked bean was similar at all altitudes and there was a tendency to yield smaller amounts of solids in the cooking broth at higher altitudes. The increase in cooking time was significant. Bean water uptake at all times was significantly slower and smaller at ambient T, as compared to water uptake at boiling T, at all altitudes. Protein and lysine content were not affected by altitude, however, tannin and catechin were lower in cooked samples, as compared to the raw material. Altitude did not affect the content of these substances. Total starch and total sugars were higher in the raw sample, as compared to the cooked samples, but there was no effect of altitude. Enzyme susceptible starch (ESS) was lower in the raw sample as compared to the cooked samples, which contained similar amounts with respect to altitude. No change was observed in fiber fractions of the cooked beans. Likewise, the composition of the cooking broth was very similar between cooking locations. There was a small tendency to a lower protein quality, with respect to altitude, the effect of which was more obvious in the apparent protein digestibility values. Undercooking or overcooking at one location influenced protein quality values. The extended cooking time of beans at high altitudes, has important economic and environmental implications, since significant amounts of wood have to be used.

Key words

Common beans cooking time Effect of altitude Selected chemical components Nutritional value 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ricardo Bressani
    • 1
  • Carlos Chon
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Food and Agricultural ScienceInstitute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama (INCAP)Guatemala, CA1
  2. 2.Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología Agrícola (ICTA)Bárcenas, Villa NuevaGuatemala

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