Beans are an excellent food choice for people with diabetes. They are low on the glycemic index, meaning they do not cause sharp spikes in blood sugar levels. Beans are also packed with fiber, protein, and nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and iron. For diabetics looking to manage blood sugar levels and get healthier, beans can be a staple part of the diet.
The Benefits of Beans for Diabetes
There are many reasons why beans are beneficial for people with diabetes:
- Beans have a low glycemic index – they are slowly digested and absorbed which prevents blood sugar spikes.
- They are high in fiber – a 1/2 cup serving contains about 5-7g of fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar levels.
- Beans are a good source of protein – they contain approximately 7-15g of protein per 1/2 cup serving.
- They contain important nutrients like potassium, magnesium, folate, iron, and zinc.
- Eating beans promotes feelings of fullness and can help with weight control.
- Bean consumption is linked with reduced risk of heart disease and cancer, which diabetics are at higher risk for.
Best Beans for Diabetics
The best beans for diabetes are those that are low on the glycemic index, high in fiber, and provide a good amount of protein. Here are some of the top beans to include:
|Bean||Glycemic Index||Fiber per 1/2 Cup||Protein per 1/2 Cup|
As you can see, all of these beans are relatively low on the glycemic index and provide plenty of fiber and protein. Black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and split peas are especially great choices.
How Much and How Often Should You Eat Beans?
Here are some guidelines for how much and how often to add beans to your diet if you have diabetes:
- 1/2 cup of cooked beans 2-3 times per week is a good goal.
- Beans can be consumed more frequently by those who are able to tolerate them without gastrointestinal discomfort.
- Consume a variety of different types of beans to get a range of nutrients.
- Be sure to rinse canned beans to remove extra sodium.
- Measure out proper portions – it’s easy to overeat calorie-dense beans.
- Add beans to salads, soups, stews, tacos, stir-fries, and veggie burgers.
Keep in mind that beans contain carbohydrates, so they should be measured and counted as part of your daily carb intake. Pair beans with non-starchy vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats.
How to Cook Beans from Dry
Cooking beans from dry can save money compared to using canned beans. Here is a simple method:
- Pick over dried beans and rinse them under cold water.
- Soak the beans by covering with water and letting sit for 8 hours or overnight.
- Drain the soaked beans and transfer to a pot. Cover with fresh water, 2-3 inches above the beans.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 hours until tender.
- Add salt, herbs, and spices in the last 30 minutes. Drain and use beans as desired.
Cooking times vary for different types of beans. Chickpeas take about 1-2 hours, black beans take 1-1.5 hours, and kidney beans take about 50-60 minutes.
Are Canned Beans Good for Diabetics?
Canned beans are a quick and convenient option. However, there are some drawbacks to canned beans:
- Canned beans are higher in sodium – they typically contain 300-500mg per 1/2 cup serving.
- Some nutrients are lost during the canning process.
- BPA from can linings may leach into canned beans.
- Texture and flavor are inferior to home-cooked beans.
If using canned beans, look for low-sodium or no salt added options. Thoroughly rinse beans under water to remove excess sodium. Canned beans are fine in moderation but cooking your own dry beans is healthier.
Tips for Adding Beans to Your Diet
Here are some tips for incorporating more beans into your diabetes meal plan:
- Start slowly – increase bean intake gradually to allow your body to adjust.
- Try bean sprouts and hummus if you have trouble digesting whole beans.
- Consume beans with other high-fiber foods to spread out gas and bloating.
- Have a digestive enzyme like Beano with bean-containing meals.
- Soak and rinse beans before cooking to decrease oligosaccharides that cause gas.
- Flavor beans with herbs and spices instead of oil or meat fat.
With a little planning, beans can be prepared in tasty ways that prevent discomfort. Their health benefits make them one of the best foods for diabetes.
Are beans good for Type 2 diabetes?
Yes, beans are an excellent food for those with Type 2 diabetes. They have a low glycemic index which prevents blood sugar spikes. The fiber and protein in beans also helps regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. Beans provide key nutrients that help reduce diabetes complications.
What beans should diabetic avoid?
Most beans are suitable in moderation for diabetics. However, beans higher on the glycemic index like baked beans, kidney beans, and fava beans may cause more of a blood sugar rise. Diabetics should avoid prepared beans cooked with lots of oil, salt, pork, or sweet sauces.
Are lentils good for diabetic patients?
Yes, lentils are an excellent choice for diabetics. They have a very low glycemic index of 26. Lentils are high in fiber to help control blood sugar. They also provide protein and nutrients like folate, manganese, and iron. Try green, brown, red, or French lentils in soups, salads, and veggie burgers.
Can I eat chickpeas if I have diabetes?
Chickpeas are certainly diabetic-friendly with a glycemic index of 28 and high fiber content. Enjoy chickpeas in hummus, salads, rice dishes, and vegetarian curries in moderate portions. Pair chickpeas with non-starchy vegetables and healthy fats.
Are black eyed peas good for diabetes?
Black eyed peas are a smart choice for diabetics. They have a low glycemic load and rank low on the glycemic index. Their high fiber and protein helps control blood sugar. Try using black eyed peas in soups, stews, salads, veggie burgers, and rice bowls.
Sample Bean Recipes for Diabetics
Tuscan White Bean Salad
A flavorful diabetes-friendly salad using canned white beans, fresh vegetables, herbs, and a red wine vinegar dressing.
Southwestern Black Bean Quinoa Bowl
A hearty plant-based bowl with quinoa, black beans, roasted veggies, avocado, and a chipotle lime dressing.
Indian Spiced Chickpea Wraps
Warm chickpeas seasoned with Indian spices and stuffed into whole wheat tortillas with veggies and yogurt sauce.
White Bean Soup with Greens
A nourishing soup made with white beans, escarole greens, and vegetables simmered in a savory broth.
Three Bean Chili
A diabetes-friendly chili using a combo of pinto, kidney, and black beans cooked with tomato sauce and spices.
Beans deliver a powerhouse nutrition package of fiber, protein, and key micronutrients that benefit diabetics. Focus on low glycemic varieties like black beans, kidney beans, lentils, and chickpeas. Aim for 1⁄2 cup serving 2-3 times per week. Cook beans from dry when possible and pair them with non-starchy veggies and lean protein. With their versatility and health perks, beans deserve a permanent place in your diabetes diet.