Can you eat green beans if you are diabetic? Do green beans spike blood sugar levels? If you have recently been diagnosed as diabetic or have elevated blood sugars (ie – prediabetes), you are more than likely questioning everything you eat, including the green bean.
Are green beans diabetic friendly? Are green beans low carb? Learn the answers here, plus the complete guide to green beans and diabetes, as well as some diabetic green bean recipes and keto green bean recipes.
What is Diabetes?
While I can give you intense, scientific definitions, I prefer to follow the KISS principle, ‘keep it simple, silly.’ Basically, diabetes occurs when you do not produce enough insulin OR you are not using insulin as you should. When this happens, too much sugar stays in our blood stream.
3 Types of Diabetes Exist:
- Type 1 diabetes.
- Type 2 diabetes.
- Gestational diabetes.
When Are You Diagnosed as Diabetic?
According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes is diagnosed when an A1C level is above 6.5%. Prediabetes is diagnosed when the A1C is between 5.7% and 6.4%.
What about Prediabetes?
As a dietitian, I am noticing a huge increase of prediabetes (or elevated blood sugar) in my clinic. This is where our blood sugar is elevated, but not elevated ‘enough’ for the classic diabetes diagnosis.
What Causes Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 1 Causes.
Type 1 diabetes is caused when the immune system attacks the beta cells in the pancreas. It is believed type 1 is caused by genes and environmental factors.
Type 2 Causes.
While we can spend this entire article talking (let’s be honest, some folks love to argue) about the causes of type 2 diabetes, it typically falls into 2 categories.
- Lifestyle. Diet, Exercise, Sleep patterns, Work.
How Many Individuals Have Diabetes?
According to the Diabetes Research Institute, 37.3 million people (11.3% of the population) have diabetes.
What is the Common Treatment For Diabetes?
As much as I hate to say this, patients are often given a HUGE amount of medicines to help with diabetes. While that is ok for some, it often breaks my heart to see meds handed out with ZERO diet education. As a dietitian and working with 100s of patients, I can honestly tell you a change in diet CAN get you off diabetes medicine and reverse prediabetes.
Can I Reverse Diabetes and Prediabetes?
My professional opinion is that with proper diet (and no, not that moderation diet), activity, and sleep, we can DRASTICALLY reduce our blood sugars out of the diabetes and prediabetes range.
LET’S GET STARTED!
The Diabetes and Prediabetes Diet Guide
While many of us know to cut out the sugar, sweets, sodas, and white carbs (and even some wheat carbs), I focus my diabetes and prediabetes plan on the following:
- Low glycemic
- Low carb,
- High fiber,
- Lean protein, and
- High omega-3 rich foods.
While this article focuses on green beans and diabetes, you can continue to watch my video on the 10 best foods for prediabetes and weight loss.
But Let’s Get Down to Business.
The Beautiful Green Bean
What are Green Beans?
Green beans are often referred to as string beans, wax beans, long beans, and haricots verts. Often slender and long, with edible pods, do know that not all green beans are green. Say what?! Some of our wax beans can be ‘yellow’ in color.
Green beans can be eaten raw (my favorite!), barely cooked (keeps a crunch), or fully cooked for a ‘softer’ feel. Green beans are very popular in the summer, however, this vegetable is available year round.
Nutrition Facts in Green Beans.
Green beans are an incredibly nutritious vegetable. According to the USDA Food Data Central Search Results, the following are the nutrition facts in 1 cup of raw green beans.
- Calories – 31
- Protein – 1.8g
- Fat – 0.2g
- Carbohydrates – 6.97g
- Fiber – 2.7g
- Sugar – 3.26
Calories in Green Beans.
What are the calories in green beans? Are green beans a low calorie food? As a baseline, I am using the calories in raw green beans. 1 cup of raw green beans contains only 31 calories. And yes, green beans are a low calorie food.
Protein in Green Beans.
How much protein is in green beans? As a baseline, we are going to look at the protein in 1 cup of raw green beans. 1 cup of raw green beans contains 1.8 grams of protein.
Fiber in Green Beans.
What is the fiber in green beans? Why do we care about fiber? Remember I shared earlier in the article how part of my diabetes and prediabetes plan is to encourage high fiber foods? Fiber helps to slow down the absorption of blood sugar levels. Let’s look at the fiber in our raw green beans. 1 cup of raw green beans has 2.7 grams of fiber.
Green Bean Glycemic Index.
Are green beans low on the glycemic index? What is the glycemic index of green beans? The glycemic index (GI) of green beans equals to 30, which classifies it as a low GI food.
Why does the glycemic index matter with diabetics?
According to the American Dietetic Association, the glycemic index measures how quickly a food causes our blood sugar to rise. Food are ranked on a scale of zero to 100. The higher the glycemic index of food means these foods are quickly digested, absorbed, and causing a fast rise in blood sugar levels. On the other hand, foods low in the glycemic index are absorbed at a lower rate.
The glycemic index (GI) rankings are as follows:
- Low GI food: Under 50
- Medium GI food: 56-69
- High GI food: 70 and higher
How Many Carbs are in Green Beans?
What is the carb count in beans? Using our raw green beans as a baseline, 1 cup of raw green beans contains 6.97 grams carbs.
What are the Net Carbs in Green Beans?
Net carbs can be a bit of a confusing topic. Don’t let it be! The simple definition of a net carb is the amount of carbs (in a product) that the body converts to sugar.
Net carbs = Total Carbs – Dietary Fiber.
The net carbs in 1 cup of raw green beans is 4.27g.
Are Green Beans Keto?
Can you include green beans in a keto diet? Absolutely! As long as you keep an eye on your carbs, you can include green beans in your keto plan.
Research on Green Beans and Diabetes.
This is super exciting! According to research, green bean extracts injected in rats were shown to lower glucose levels! I would love to see this study expanded to humans. (fingers crossed)
Do Green Beans Spike Blood Sugar Levels?
Green beans have little effect on your blood sugar levels. With the combination of being a low carb food AND a low glycemic index food, the green bean will not cause your blood sugar levels to spike.
Are Green Beans Good for Type 2 Diabetics?
Can diabetics have green beans? YES! In addition to being a low calorie, low carb vegetable, green beans continue magnesium, which has been found to keep blood sugar stable!
Do Green Beans Contain Natural Insulin?
Are green beans a source of insulin? No.
Are Canned Green Beans Good for Diabetics?
Can you have canned green beans if you are diabetic? Yes! Ok, before you come for me and use the dirty word ‘preservatives,’ do know I always push fresh and frozen. HOWEVER, we may go to our local supermarket and see that the green beans look terrible, and the store may be out of green beans.
While I fully understand the concern of canned foods, do know that NOW most canned vegetables are preserved at the height of their freshness, so they retain more nutrients than you might expect!
Tell your ‘Momma’s Dietitian’ to take several seats! (remember, I am a dietitian!)
Do Green Beans Stop Sugar Cravings?
How to stop sugar cravings with food? Eat FRESH green beans! In researching this article, I stumbled upon several sources noting the phytochemicals in green beans (carotenoids and flavonoid) can stop sugar cravings. While I would LOVE to see some exact research quotes, I will for SURE add some fresh green beans if I get a craving for sugar!!!
Serving Size of Green Beans.
What is the serving size of green beans? I encourage all my patients to eat as many low-carb vegetables as they want, the exact serving of green beans is 1 cup raw OR ½ cup cooked.
How to Cook Green Beans for Diabetics.
You can cook low carb, sugar free green beans in a variety of ways, including steaming, boiling, microwaving, air-frying, stir-frying, sautéing, roasting, and braising. Pay close attention to your favorite green bean recipes to make sure the ingredient list does not include sugar, agave nectar, and honey since these will increase the carb count in your dish.
Diabetic Green Bean Recipes.
If you are looking for my favorite diabetic green bean recipe, check out my step-by-step video on the best green bean recipe for diabetics.
Air Fryer Green Beans.
Can you cook green beans in the air fryer? Can you make green beans in a Ninja Foodi? You bet! Check out my recipe on Ninja Foodi Green Beans!
Keto Green Bean Recipes.
Diabetics and prediabetics CAN use low carb and keto green bean recipes in their diet, HOWEVER, I do encourage you to use extra virgin olive oil (the BEST oil for diabetics) and don’t drown this amazing vegetable in cheese!
My favorite keto green bean recipes:
Green Beans for Diabetics: Shopping, Preparing, Storage.
While green beans are found in the produce section of all our supermarkets, you can purchase canned green beans as well as frozen green beans.
If purchasing fresh green beans, look for a bean that is crisp and will ‘snap’ when bent in half.
If preparing fresh green beans ‘snap’ or cut off the ends. Prepare according to your recipe. If you decide to use frozen green beans, you do not need to rinse them with water, just cook and go! Finally, if you are using canned green beans I do encourage rinsing the green beans with water.
If purchasing fresh green beans, store wrapped loosely in plastic in the fridge. You want to eat the beans soon so they don’t lose the crisp.
Can Diabetics Eat Green Beans? Conclusion.
Are green beans safe for diabetics? Are green beans good for diabetics? YES!
Green beans are a low calorie, low carb, low glycemic index, magnesium-rich vegetable that is great for diabetics. Add these versatile vegetables into your life. From the dinner table, to snacking on as a 3pm snack, and even reaching for if you are craving sugar, the green bean will not spike your insulin levels.