All of the beans in the genus Phaseolus contain phasin, a toxin that is destroyed when the beans are heated to temperatures greater than 70°C. However, several vitamins are lost during the cooking process, including vitamin C. Cooked white beans can be eaten in larger amounts, but you should be careful because beans can give you gas.
From Wikipedia: “The navy bean, haricot or pearl haricot bean, white pea bean, or pea bean, is a class of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) native to the Americas, where it was domesticated. It is a small, dry white bean which is smaller than many other types of white beans, and has an oval, slightly flattened shape. It features in such dishes as baked beans and even pies, as well as in various soups such as Senate bean soup. Unlike most canned vegetables, which lose much of their nutritive value in the canning process, navy beans maintain their nutritive value when canned.
The plants that produce navy beans may be either of the bush type or vining type, depending on which cultivar they are.
Consumption of baked beans has been shown to lower total cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. This might be at least partly explained by high saponin content of navy bean. Saponins also exhibit antibacterial and anti-fungal activity, and have been found to inhibit cancer "cellgrowth". Furthermore, navy bean is the richest source of ferulic acid and p-coumaric acid among the common bean varieties. It is commonly known as the "Navy Bean" due to its use as a staple of United States Navy rations in the 19th century.”
“Other white beans include:
- Cannellini, a variety popular in central and southern Italy, which is larger than navy beans, related to the kidney bean and, like the kidney bean, has higher levels of the toxic lectin phytohaemagglutinin.
- 'Great northern', also called "large white" beans are also larger than navy beans but smaller than cannellini beans, with a flattened shape similar to lima beans. They have a delicate flavour.
The large white beans known in Greece as gígantes (Greek: γίγαντες, giants) and eléfantes (ελέφαντες, elephants) are from the runner bean, Phaseolus coccineus.”
“White beans are the most abundant plant-based source of phosphatidylserine (PS) yet known. It contains notably high levels of apigenin, 452±192 µg/kg, which vary widely among legumes.”
Storage and safety:
“Dried and canned beans stay fresh longer by storing them in your pantry or other cool, dark place under 75 °F (24 °C). With normal seed storage, seeds should last from one to four years for replanting, with a very large timetable for cooking for well-kept seeds, nearing on indefinite. Avoid beans which are discolored from the pure white color of these beans, as they may have been poorly handled while they dried.”
“Eating beans causes an increased amount of gas to form in the large intestine and can cause us to experience gas and bloating. The reason for this is that the beans contain trisaccharides, for example, raffinose, which humans cannot digest. However, intestinal bacteria can metabolize trisaccharides by excreting fermentation gases. One way to prevent these side effects is to soak the beans before cooking them to remove these sugars. However, minerals and water-soluble vitamins are lost in this process.*”
Note (italics): * = Translation from a German Wikipedia entry.