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Refried Beans & Diet

author image Rachel MacDonald
Based in Edinburgh, United Kingdom, Rachel MacDonald has been a writer for more than five years. She covers health, travel and lifestyle topics for a variety of publications, including The Huffington Post and Shecky's Guidebooks. MacDonald holds a bachelor's degree in writing, literature and publishing from Emerson College.
Refried Beans & Diet
Refried beans with a meal. Photo Credit bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images

The health benefits of beans are well worth looking into, because they provide high levels of minerals while being low in fat and calories. High in fiber, they manage to keep dieters full for longer periods of time than other vegetable-based proteins. Refried beans are commonly used in Mexican and Tex-Mex cooking, and can play a strong role in any low-fat diet. These are beans that are cooked, mashed and then reheated, usually with oil.

Preparation of Refried Beans

Refried beans are a staple of northern Mexican cooking, and are also traditionally prepared in Tex-Mex cuisine. This dish is normally prepared with pinto beans, although black or kidney beans are also sometimes used. The beans are boiled, drained and mashed, sometimes sitting overnight. The mashed beans are then combined with seasonings and salt to taste, chicken or vegetable stock if they are dry, and reheated with oil or lard in some cases. Vegetarians will want to take care that their refried beans have not been prepared with lard, as will those who are on a low-fat diet.

Keeping Fat Levels Low

When using refried beans as a protein source in a low-fat diet, prepare them without the traditional lard, using only a trace amount of vegetable oil instead. Canned varieties may be used for convenience and usually have a low level of fat, but these tend to have higher sodium levels than the homemade variety. In one cup of canned refried beans, for example, there could be up to 31 percent of your daily value of sodium, or approximately 753 mg. While sodium won't necessarily lead to weight gain, it could cause water retention and dehydration or bloating. The best way to control sodium and fat levels in your refried beans diet may be to prepare them at home from dried pinto or black beans.

Vitamin and Mineral Content of Refried Beans

Like most varieties of beans, refried beans contain high levels of essential minerals and vitamins that make them an ideal diet food. They are high in manganese and magnesium, which helps improve muscle function. Someone on a diet and exercise program may be interested in refried beans for the high iron content, which helps draw in oxygen to the blood, essential for any workout. Calcium and Vitamin C levels are also high, with one cup of refried beans providing 25 percent of your daily value of Vitamin C.

Weight Loss and Refried Beans

When thinking of diet foods, refried beans may not be the first food that springs to mind. This is mainly due to their preparation, and the fact that they are often eaten in combination with large amounts of cheese, sour cream and other condiments that are frequently used in Mexican cuisine. On their own, however, they can lead to weight loss when used as a substitute for fat-laden animal proteins. Eating refried beans with spicy fresh salsa or hot sauce rather than cheese can also be a good way to speed up the metabolism. Capsaicin is a substance found in hot chili peppers which can help the body burn more calories after a meal, making spicy sauces the best accompaniment to refried beans for dieters.

Fiber Content in Refried Beans

Like other beans, refried beans are an excellent source of dietary fiber. This not only helps boost energy levels, but also regulates bowel movements and blood sugar levels. Fiber's positive effects on regulating the digestive system include the potential to lower the risk of irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. Refried beans that are made from black beans contain a higher level of fiber than traditional pinto bean recipes.

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