Refried beans – Not as Bad as You May Think

refried beans Refried beans   Not as Bad as You May ThinkRefried beans can be good if you read the nutrition labels

I consider myself pretty knowledgeable when it comes to food and nutrition.  However, recently I found myself surprised while reading nutrition labels on two different cans of refried beans in my cupboard.  In general, I know when an ingredient considered bad is removed or reduced in a particular food to make it “healthier,” something else is usually added in its place that may not actually make the food healthier.  Examples: adding sugar to low fat foods to make them taste better or replacing the saturated fat from natural butter with unnatural, partially hydrogenated oils.

I was pleasantly surprised when reading my nutrition labels, which I have started doing more lately, while planning dinner.  One was a can of traditional refried beans and the other was the fat free version.  I thought for sure the fat free refried beans would contain something in the ingredient list that I wouldn’t want to consume to replace the missing fat.  Instead, it was the traditional refried beans that contained “partially hydrogenated lard with BHA and BHT to protect flavor” as its source of fat that I wouldn’t want to eat.  The fat free refried beans did not include this ingredient or any other scientific-sounding, unnatural ingredients.  The fat free refried beans simply contained cooked beans, water, salt and various spices.  That’s all.

Fat free variety is a must!

A half cup serving of fat free refried beans contains 100 calories, 6g fiber and 6g protein along with some calcium and iron.  They contain no fat, no cholesterol and no added sugar (1 gram sugar comes naturally from the beans used).  The thing to watch with this fat-free variety is the 470mg sodium they contribute to your diet.  When eaten within a lower sodium diet, fat free refried beans can be a great addition to your meal.  Plus, when these beans are added to tacos, which is how we normally eat them in my house, there is no noticeable difference between the fat free or traditional versions.

When eating out, I would still avoid ordering refried beans as they tend to be served in much larger portions and contain extra calories from fat.  This would significantly increase the calories and sodium consumed.  In addition, the fat added may be in the form of unnatural, partially hydrogenated fats (as I discovered above), which should be avoided where possible.

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  1. says

    If you want really healthy refried beans, try this amazingly delicious recipe: Both Ben and I thought we didn’t like refried beans, but he was eating this straight out of the pan before I had a chance to even put it in the burritos I was making. It is so good! (I used canned organic pinto beans, instead of soaking my own beans.)
    Brittany recently posted…February Challenge: Speak Words of LoveMy Profile

  2. Dawn says

    Thanks, Brittany! We eat tacos A LOT at my house and I am always looking for ways to change things up.

    Also, I love Money Saving Mom’s blog! In fact, I am really excited to get to see the owner, Crystal Paine, in person at a moms’ event (Hearts at Home) in Normal, IL in a few weeks where she will be hosting a couple of workshops.


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