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Can Diabetics Eat Refried Beans?

The “glycemic index” of food should be taken into account by diabetic patients when deciding which food to eat. This factor assesses how soon and strongly your blood sugar level rises after eating a specific food.

Foods that have a “low glycemic index” can help reduce blood sugar levels and also prevent and manage diabetes (1)(2). Refried beans are cooked black or pinto beans that are fried in lard or plant-based oils. These are low glycemic index foods and full of nutritional benefits.

Calories & Nutritional Facts of Refried Beans

Refried beans are a low-caloric and nutrient-rich food that contributes considerable protein, minerals, vitamins, and fibre to your diet. Here are the nutritional facts for one cup (260 grams) of refried beans (3):

Nutritional FactAmount  
Calories234 kcal  
Protein13 grams (26% of the Daily Value)  
Carbohydrate35 grams  
Fat5 grams  
Fibre10 grams (34% of the DV)  
Iron20% of the DV  
Magnesium22% of the DV  
Potassium  22% of the DV
Sodium64% of the DV  
Zinc14% of the DV  
Vitamin B615% of the DV  
Vitamin C23% of the DV  

Health Benefits of Refried Beans

Refried beans can offer several health benefits.

  • May Prevent Age-Related Illnesses: Refried beans are abundant in polyphenols. These antioxidants protect against free radicals and prevent age-related illnesses such as cancer and metabolic disorders (4).
  • May Improve Gut Health: Refried beans provide you with 34% of the daily value of fibre, which promotes digestion and overall gut health. Studies indicate that beans favourably impact the gut microbiota (good bacteria) (5). These good gut bacteria may fight harmful bacteria, promote immune health, and enhance mineral absorption.
  • Promotes The Feeling Of Fullness: Several trials support the satiating ability of the beans. In a study, bean consumption was found to increase fullness by 31% compared to other foods (6). Another study found that whole black bean consumption increased satiety-related hormones in adults with metabolic disorders (7).
  • May Reduces The Risk Of Heart Diseases: Consumption of food with a “high-glycemic index” is linked to a higher risk of heart disease. The beneficial glycemic profile of refried beans may help prevent these adverse health risks. Refried beans are also an abundant source of magnesium and potassium, which may help lower your blood pressure. A study found lower heart disease and high blood pressure incidences in those who consume the most beans and legumes (8).
  • May Regulate Blood Glucose Levels: The low glycemic profile of refried beans makes them a super food for diabetic patients. Your digestive system absorbs refried beans’ nutrients slowly. As opposed to high-glycemic foods, which result in a sudden spike followed by a rapid drop in blood sugar, refried beans slowly raise blood sugar levels and give you lasting energy. Therefore, compared to other starchy foods, refried beans are an excellent option for people with diabetes. Several studies have shown that regular consumption of beans is advantageous for diabetes control and prevention (9).

Can Diabetics Eat Refried Beans?

Refried beans are diabetic-friendly food as they do not cause large spikes in blood sugar levels and, therefore, are often recommended to improve blood glucose control.


  • Refried beans are high in dietary fibres, which can bind with sugar and fats, reducing their absorption and utilization by the body (10).
  • Refried beans contain phenolic compounds that reduce blood glucose and elevated insulin levels (11)(12).
  • The protein content in beans also helps to slow down how quickly your blood sugar rises (13).
  • In adults with metabolic syndrome, insulin was significantly reduced in those who incorporated whole black beans into their meals (7).
  • Studies associated with middle-aged Chinese women have shown that regular consumption of common beans is inversely connected with the risk of type-2 diabetes (14).
  • A study on 56 diabetic subjects revealed that regular consumption of black beans for three months reduces their glucose levels (15).

Side Effect of Eating Too Much Refried Beans

  • May Raise Blood Cholesterol: Refried beans prepared with lard contain saturated fat that may raise your blood cholesterol levels. The World Health Organization suggests reducing saturated fat utilization to lower the risk of heart disease (16). Therefore, look for plant-based oil or fat-free versions of refried beans to cut down on saturated fats.
  • May Raise Blood Pressure: Refried beans often contain high sodium levels. A diet high in sodium can enhance the risk of high blood pressure.
  • Can Be Difficult To Digest: Beans contain lectins, which are proteins that are often difficult to digest and can cause intestinal discomfort. Soaking and boiling beans decreases the lectin content.

Frequently Asked Question

Are Refried Beans High in Cholesterol?

The preparation of refried beans determines their cholesterol and fat content. Refried beans made with animal fat can be high in cholesterol and saturated fat, while beans fried with plant-based oils such as olive or canola oil can be comparatively low in fat and cholesterol-free.

Diabetic-friendly Cooking Method

  1. To control unhealthy ingredients, it’s best to prepare refried beans at home with plant-based oils (such as extra virgin olive oil or canola oil) instead of lard (animal fats).
  2. Season the refried beans with fresh or dried herbs as an alternative to a lot of salt.
  3. Pair refried beans with nutrient-dense foods like salsa, corn tortillas, and chopped vegetables.

Are Black Beans Good for Diabetics?

Black beans’ beneficial fibre and antioxidant profile make them an excellent food for diabetics (17). A study on 56 diabetic subjects revealed that regular consumption of black beans for three months reduces their glucose levels (15). Other studies revealed that consuming black beans with rice instead of rice alone helps manage blood sugar levels after meals in individuals with and without diabetes (12)(18).

Final Thoughts

When refried beans are cooked with plant-based oils, nutritious ingredients, and little or no added salt, they are a healthy way to add protein, fibre, and complex carbohydrates to your meals.

If you’re diabetic, several factors should be considered when adding refried beans to your regular diet.

  • Commercial refried beans can be high in saturated fats and cholesterol. Therefore, preparing refried beans at home with plant-based oils is best.
  • If you choose to have commercial refried beans, always look for plant-based oil or fat-free versions to cut down on saturated fats.
  • Drain and rinse canned beans to remove excess sodium.
  • The physical form of refried beans also affects how quickly your body digests them and how quickly your blood glucose level rises. For example, the more thoroughly your refried beans are mashed, the more rapidly you digest them. While partially mashed beans help slow down the rise in your blood sugar as you optimally digest them.
  • Pair refried beans with nutrient-dense foods like salsa, corn tortillas, and chopped vegetables, as these foods enhance the absorption of beneficial nutrients in your refried beans.
  • Some individuals have an allergy to beans. People with peanut allergies are likely to be allergic to other legumes as well. It’s also possible that you’re having an allergic reaction to an additive or preservative found in canned refried beans. That’s why testing is important.
  • We highly recommend that you consult a dietician or a certified diabetes educator as he/she can provide better helpful information about diabetic meal planning.


  1. Brand-Miller, J., Hayne, S., Petocz, P., & Colagiuri, S. (2003). Low–glycemic index diets in the management of diabetes: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Diabetes care26(8), 2261-2267.
  2. Jenkins, D. J., Kendall, C. W., McKeown-Eyssen, G., Josse, R. G., Silverberg, J., Booth, G. L., … & Leiter, L. A. (2008). Effect of a low–glycemic index or a high–cereal fiber diet on type 2 diabetes: a randomized trial. Jama300(23), 2742-2753.
  4. Ganesan, K., & Xu, B. (2017). Polyphenol-rich dry common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) and their health benefits. International journal of molecular sciences18(11), 2331.
  5. Gullón, P., Gullón, B., Tavaria, F., Vasconcelos, M., & Gomes, A. M. (2015). In vitro fermentation of lupin seeds (Lupinus albus) and broad beans (Vicia faba): Dynamic modulation of the intestinal microbiota and metabolomic output. Food & function, 6(10), 3316-3322.
  6. Li, S. S., Kendall, C. W., de Souza, R. J., Jayalath, V. H., Cozma, A. I., Ha, V., … & Sievenpiper, J. L. (2014). Dietary pulses, satiety and food intake: a systematic review and meta‐analysis of acute feeding trials. Obesity, 22(8), 1773-1780.
  7. Reverri, E. J., Randolph, J. M., Kappagoda, C. T., Park, E., Edirisinghe, I., & Burton-Freeman, B. M. (2017). Assessing beans as a source of intrinsic fiber on satiety in men and women with metabolic syndrome. Appetite, 118, 75-81.
  8. Viguiliouk, E., Glenn, A. J., Nishi, S. K., Chiavaroli, L., Seider, M., Khan, T., … & Sievenpiper, J. L. (2019). Associations between dietary pulses alone or with other legumes and cardiometabolic disease outcomes: an umbrella review and updated systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Advances in Nutrition, 10(Supplement_4), S308-S319.
  9. Venn, B. J., & Mann, J. I. (2004). Cereal grains, legumes and diabetes. European journal of clinical nutrition, 58(11), 1443-1461.
  10. Ou, S., Kwok, K. C., Li, Y., & Fu, L. (2001). In vitro study of possible role of dietary fiber in lowering postprandial serum glucose. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry49(2), 1026-1029.
  11. Spadafranca, A., Rinelli, S., Riva, A., Morazzoni, P., Magni, P., Bertoli, S., & Battezzati, A. (2013). Phaseolus vulgaris extract affects glycometabolic and appetite control in healthy human subjects. British Journal of Nutrition109(10), 1789-1795.
  12. Thompson, S. V., Winham, D. M., & Hutchins, A. M. (2012). Bean and rice meals reduce postprandial glycemic response in adults with type 2 diabetes: a cross-over study. Nutrition Journal11(1), 1-7.
  13. Alsalim, W., Tura, A., Pacini, G., Omar, B., Bizzotto, R., Mari, A., & Ahrén, B. (2016). Mixed meal ingestion diminishes glucose excursion in comparison with glucose ingestion via several adaptive mechanisms in people with and without type 2 diabetes. Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism18(1), 24-33.
  14. Villegas, R., Gao, Y. T., Yang, G., Li, H. L., Elasy, T. A., Zheng, W., & Shu, X. O. (2008). Legume and soy food intake and the incidence of type 2 diabetes in the Shanghai Women’s Health Study. The American journal of clinical nutrition87(1), 162-167.
  15. Gupta, A., Agarwal, N. K., & Byadgi, P. S. (2014). Clinical assessment of dietary interventions and lifestyle modifications in Madhumeha (type-2 Diabetes Mellitus). Ayu35(4), 391.
  17. Reverri, E. J., Randolph, J. M., Steinberg, F. M., Kappagoda, C. T., Edirisinghe, I., & Burton-Freeman, B. M. (2015). Black beans, fiber, and antioxidant capacity pilot study: examination of whole foods vs. functional components on postprandial metabolic, oxidative stress, and inflammation in adults with metabolic syndrome. Nutrients7(8), 6139-6154.
  18. Winham, D. M., Hutchins, A. M., & Thompson, S. V. (2017). Glycemic response to black beans and chickpeas as part of a rice meal: a randomized cross-over trial. Nutrients9(10), 1095.

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