Green beans are a nutritious vegetable that can be a great addition to a diabetic diet. As with any food, it’s important for diabetics to be mindful of portion sizes of green beans to keep blood sugar levels in check. This article provides guidelines on green bean serving sizes for diabetics, as well as their nutritional benefits and tips for including them as part of a healthy meal plan.
Nutritional Profile of Green Beans
Green beans, also known as string beans or snap beans, are low in carbohydrates and calories, making them a good vegetable choice for diabetics. Here is an overview of the nutrition found in 1 cup (125g) of raw green beans:
|Vitamin C||14% DV|
|Vitamin K||16% DV|
|Vitamin A||11% DV|
As you can see, green beans are low in carbohydrates, with only 7g per serving. They get most of these carbs from fiber, which does not impact blood sugar. The vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found in green beans provide additional health benefits.
Green Bean Serving Sizes for Diabetics
Many experts recommend keeping carb counts at meals to 45-60 grams. This allows flexibility to add other healthy carbohydrates to meals, such as whole grains or fruit. Here are some serving size guidelines for green beans:
– 1/2 cup green beans: 3.5 grams carb, 2g fiber
– 1 cup green beans: 7 grams carb, 4g fiber
– 1.5 cups green beans: 10 grams carb, 6g fiber
Ideally, most of the carbohydrate in a meal will come from foods that are absorbed slowly and do not cause spikes in blood sugar. Green beans are one such low glycemic index food. As long as portions are kept reasonable, they can be enjoyed regularly along with other healthy carb choices.
Health Benefits of Green Beans for Diabetics
Here are some of the top reasons why green beans are a smart addition to a diabetic diet:
Low in carbs and calories – Per serving, green beans provide more bulk and volume with fewer carbs and calories. This allows diabetics to feel satisfied while keeping blood sugar in check.
High in fiber – The fiber in green beans helps slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream and promotes feelings of fullness. The fiber also supports digestive and heart health.
Packed with nutrients – Green beans contain antioxidants like vitamin C and manganese, which help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress often associated with diabetes. The vitamin K promotes healthy bones.
May help lower blood pressure – Some research indicates the nutrients in green beans, including vitamin K, may help reduce high blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes.
Low glycemic index – Green beans have a very low effect on blood sugar levels, with a glycemic index of just 15.
Tips for Adding Green Beans to a Diabetic Diet
Here are some simple ways to incorporate green beans into your meal plan:
Add to salads – Throw some blanched green beans on top of leafy green salads for added nutrition and satisfaction.
Sautee as a side – Saute green beans in olive oil with sliced almonds, garlic and seasoning for a fast and healthy side dish.
Roast for a snack – Toss raw green beans in olive oil, salt, pepper and other spices. Roast at 400°F for 20 minutes for a crunchy snack.
Include in stir fries – Add raw or blanched green beans to stir fries with protein and other veggies near the end of cooking.
Blend into soups – Add some cooked green beans to a blender when making creamy soups. It packs nutrition and fiber.
Substitute for higher carb foods – Swap out things like pasta, rice or bread for green beans as your carb serving.
Sample Meal Plan with Green Beans
Here is a sample one day meal plan with green beans included at lunch and dinner:
- 2 egg omelet with spinach, peppers, and cheddar cheese
- 1 slice whole wheat toast
- 1 cup mixed berries
- Tuna salad made with 2 oz tuna, greens, tomato, cucumber, 1/4 avocado, lemon juice and olive oil
- 1 cup green beans
- 12 almonds
- 3 oz grilled salmon
- 1.5 cups roasted green beans
- Small garden salad with balsamic vinaigrette
This provides a good balance of protein, healthy fats, fiber-rich vegetables and whole grains without spiking blood sugar levels. Beans can be switched out for non-starchy veggies as needed to further reduce carbs.
Should Diabetics Avoid Green Beans?
Most diabetic experts agree non-starchy vegetables like green beans are very healthy and appropriate in a diabetic eating pattern. Unless instructed otherwise by a doctor or dietitian, there is no need to avoid green beans. They provide important nutrients and benefits.
However, some diabetics may need to be mindful of total carb counts with green beans, especially if taking certain medications that increase the risk of low blood sugar. As long as carb counts are kept within recommended ranges, green beans can be safely enjoyed as part of a vegetable-rich diet.
Adding green beans and other non-starchy vegetables to your diet is a great strategy for diabetics looking to reduce carbohydrate load at meals while feeling satisfied. Enjoy green beans roasted, sauteed, in salads, in soups and in stir fries while paying attention to portion sizes. They provide bulk and volume with very little effect on blood sugar. Along with a balanced diabetic eating plan, green beans can help manage diabetes while providing important nutrients.