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Refried beans can be part of a healthy diet when eaten with other nutrient-dense foods. They are high in fiber and protein and, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, high-fiber diets have many health benefits 34. As with all foods, refried beans should be enjoyed in moderation.
Refried beans are dried pinto beans that have been soaked, cooked and mashed. They are often cooked with lard and seasoned with dried spices and herbs.
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Federal dietary guidelines recommend 20 to 35 g of fiber a day. There are two types of fiber--soluble and insoluble fiber. The type of fiber in refried beans is soluble fiber. According to MedlinePlus, a publication of the National Institutes of Health, soluble fiber turns into a gel when it mixes with water and slows digestion 1. Soluble fiber is known to lower cholesterol and help prevent heart disease. Other foods rich in soluble fiber include:
- oat bran
- Federal dietary guidelines recommend 20 to 35 g of fiber a day.
- There are two types of fiber--soluble and insoluble fiber.
According to MyPyramid, refried beans can count as a vegetable serving or a serving from the meat and beans group 2. The average adults needs to eat 2 1/2 cups of vegetables a day and 5 1/2 of meat or beans a day. One cup of refried beans is equal to 1 1/4 cups of vegetables or 4 oz. from the meat and bean group.
- According to MyPyramid, refried beans can count as a vegetable serving or a serving from the meat and beans group 2.
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MedlinePlus says fiber can cause gas, bloating and abdominal cramps, especially when eaten in large quantities 1. Negative side effects from fiber usually subside once the body gets used to a high fiber diet, but adding fiber to the diet gradually will help reduce side effects. Drinking lots of water with fibrous foods will also ease digestion.
Refried beans can be high in sodium--especially canned and commercially-prepared varieties. According to the USDA, consuming too much sodium is unhealthy because it contributes to heart disease and high blood pressure. Cooking refried beans at home is a healthy option because the amount of sodium can be controlled. Consumers should also use nutrition facts labels to compare different brands of refried beans to determine which one is the healthiest.
- Refried beans can be high in sodium--especially canned and commercially-prepared varieties.
- According to the USDA, consuming too much sodium is unhealthy because it contributes to heart disease and high blood pressure.
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- MedlinePlus: Fiber
- MyPyramid: MyFood-a-pedia
- United States Department of Agriculture: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005
- United States Department of Agriculture: Nutrient Data Laboratory
- Beans, pinto, dry. USDA Foods Product Information Sheet. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published December 2015.
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- Sanders TA. How important is the relative balance of fat and carbohydrate as sources of energy in relation to health?. Proc Nutr Soc. 2016;75(2):147-53. doi:10.1017/S0029665115004188
- Chávez-Mendoza C, Sánchez E. Bioactive compounds from Mexican varieties of the common bean (phaseolus vulgaris): Implications for health. Molecules. 2017;22(8). doi:10.3390/molecules22081360
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- McCullough ML, Peterson JJ, Patel R, Jacques PF, Shah R, Dwyer JT. Flavonoid intake and cardiovascular disease mortality in a prospective cohort of US adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;95(2):454-64. doi:10.3945/ajcn.111.016634
- Ha V, Sievenpiper JL, de Souza RJ et al. Effect of dietary pulse intake on established therapeutic lipid targets for cardiovascular risk reduction: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Can Med Assoc J. 2014;186(8):E252-E262. doi:10.1503/cmaj.131727
- Sievenpiper JL, Kendall CW, Esfahani A, et al. Effect of non-oil-seed pulses on glycaemic control: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled experimental trials in people with and without diabetes. Diabetologia. 2009;52(8):1479-1495. doi:10.1007/s00125-009-1395-7
- Jacques PF, Cassidy A, Rogers G, Peterson JJ, Meigs JB, Dwyer JT. Higher dietary flavonol intake is associated with lower incidence of type 2 diabetes. J Nutr. 2013;143(9):1474-80. doi:10.3945/jn.113.177212
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- Huang T, Zhang X, Liu C, Lou Y, Song Y. Dietary fiber intake and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, infectious diseases and others: A meta-analysis of 42 prospective cohort studies with 1,752,848 participants. North Am J Med Sci. 2015;8(2):59-67. doi:10.7156/najms.2015.0802059
- Verma AK, Kumar S, Das M, Dwivedi PD. A comprehensive review of legume allergy. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2013;45(1):30-46. doi:10.1007/s12016-012-8310-6
- Huber K, Brigide P, Bolis Bretas E, Canniatti-Brazaca SG. Phenolic acid, flavonoids and antioxidant activity of common brown beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) before and after cooking. J Nutr Food Sci. 2016;6(5):1000551. doi:0.4172/2155-9600.1000551
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Bethany Fong is a registered dietitian and chef from Honolulu. She has produced a variety of health education materials and worked in wellness industries such as clinical dietetics, food service management and public health.