Are refried beans healthy? Especially when homemade, refried beans have many health benefits, as long as you enjoy them in moderation. These mashed beans are so versatile that they can fit into practically any diet AND give you a burst of creamy, rich flavor.

A wooden spoon stirs refried black beans made from canned beans.

What are refried beans?

Refried beans are usually pinto or black beans that, once cooked, are crushed and blended with spices and fat to create that signature smooth consistency. Chili pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, sour cream, olive oil, vegetable oil, or lard are often added as part of the “refrying” process. Derived from Mexican cuisine, the “refried” in “refried beans” refers to the method of cooking, not a type of bean.

Refried Beans Health Benefits

Refried beans, when incorporated with moderation into a healthy diet, can provide great health benefits. Because they pack such a nutrition punch, many people use refried beans as a main ingredient in their dishes. Here are 5 health benefits of the refried bean:

Vegan/Plant-Based Protein

Refried beans are so easy to incorporate in a vegan diet because they offer a source of protein. If you can find a brand that cuts down on the added salt and animal fat, then they really are one of the best natural sources of protein you can get.

High in Dietary Fiber

Fiber allows you to feel fuller faster, so refried beans can aid in weight loss. Fiber also helps your body reduce the absorption of sugars and carbs, so it can stabilize blood sugar levels. Refried beans are a healthy choice for people who have pre-diabetes or diabetes.

Low Fat

Sometimes it can be hard to find food that have balanced macronutrients, so refried beans that are low in fat make for a healthy choice.

Nutrient Dense

Refried beans are a natural source of vitamins and minerals like iron, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C. Having a more nutrient-dense food on your plate makes it that much easier to increase minerals in your diet.

Folate

Refried beans have a surprisingly good amount of folate. Folate is important because it assists in cell growth and development. Additionally, check for a brand that is low in sodium and unsaturated fat if you’re not cooking your own refried beans at home.

An overhead shot of refried black beans cooked in the instant pot.

Are refried beans healthy for weight loss?

Since refried beans are low in calories and are vegan, these beans can assist in healthy weight loss. To help lower your body mass index (BMI), you can exercise and incorporate foods that are high in protein—like refried beans—into your diet.

Refried Beans Health Risks

There can be health risks if refried beans are not eaten in moderation. These include:

  • High salt content: Too much sodium can raise blood pressure, which increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Flatulence: Beans can indeed be a musical fruit! Flatulence is associated with bloating and gas, causing indigestion and discomfort.
  • Food poisoning: This can be caused by the development of germs like salmonella or E. coli if your refried beans are not prepared or stored properly.
  • Additives: Canned refried beans can have many additives, preservatives, and artificial flavors which can be harmful to your health.
A wooden spoon stirs refried black beans in an Instant Pot.

Which brand of refried beans is healthy?

While there are many brand of refried beans at your local grocery store, some can be healthier than others. Let’s take a look at 3 of the most common refried bean brands. We’ll break down the nutritional components of each and learn about why certain components matter more than others.

RosaritaOld El PasoBush’s
Protein (g)657
Carbohydrates (g)181521
Fat (g)2.50.53
Sodium (mg)540440410
Fiber (g)655
Iron (mg)21.31.9
Potassium (mg)410320480
Sugar (g)<1<1<1

Protein

Refried beans provide a good source of protein, and they’re plant-based. Protein is important because it assists in tissue growth and repair.

Fiber

Refried beans are a great source of fiber. We need plenty of fiber for digestion and to keep cholesterol levels in check.

Iron

Refried beans can promote good heart health because of the amount of iron in one serving. Iron is a mineral that is necessary for development of healthy blood cells and is a stable source of energy.

Potassium

Refried beans are rich in potassium, which provides normal nerve and muscle function and maintains good blood pressure levels.

After reviewing the common refried bean brands and understanding why certain components like protein and potassium matter, choose the one that has the most of these essential nutrients.

What can you eat with refried beans?

Refried beans are like the glue to any traditional Mexican main OR side dish. There are so many options, so let’s take a look at some ideas for your next Mexican feast:

Because of the many options, refried beans are a great addition to a fun, balanced diet. There are so many different ways you can incorporate additional seasonings to personalize your refried beans.

A spoons scoops refried black beans out of a white bowl.

Expert Tips & Tricks

  • Spice it up: If you’re wanting to make homemade refried beans, add in minced onions and jalapeños to get that Mexican restaurant flavor and kick.
  • Get them smooth: Use a potato masher when crushing your beans, or put them in a food processor for consistent creaminess.
  • A little fat: Adding animal fat like bacon, lard, or butter can enhance the flavor to the next level.
  • Pack a punch: For a stronger flavor, add cheeses towards the end of the cooking process.
Take these sheet pan nachos to your next Super Bowl party.

The Best Refried Beans Recipes

Try out these recipes, which incorporate refried beans in a variety of ways:

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