The recipe for baked beans may be based on a Native American dish in which beans were cooked with bear fat and maple syrup in an earthenware pot. European settlers probably adapted the recipe, using pork fat and molasses.
The canned beans sold today are haricot beans (a variety of Phaseolus vulgaris: see pulses) in tomato sauce. In 2002 the British Dietetic Association allowed manufacturers of canned baked beans to advertise the product as contributing to the recommended five daily portions of vegetables per person. This concession was criticised by heart specialists who pointed to the high levels of sugar and salt in the product.