Are bean and rice burritos healthy?

Burritos are a popular Tex-Mex food consisting of a wheat or corn tortilla wrapped around a filling. Common fillings include rice, beans, meat, cheese, and vegetables. Bean and rice burritos are a vegetarian variety that contain beans, rice, and other vegetable ingredients. But are these seemingly simple burritos actually good for you? Here’s a detailed look at the nutritional value of bean and rice burritos.

Are Beans and Rice Healthy?

Beans and rice each provide nutritional benefits on their own. Together, they make a complete plant-based protein. Here’s a quick overview of the main nutrients found in beans and rice:


– High in fiber, which promotes digestive and heart health. Just 1 cup of cooked beans provides up to 75% of the recommended daily fiber intake.

– Excellent source of plant-based protein. 1 cup cooked beans provides around 15 grams of protein.

– Rich in micronutrients like iron, magnesium, potassium, folate, and zinc.

– Contain antioxidants that may help prevent chronic diseases.


– Naturally gluten-free and easy to digest.

– Good source of energizing B vitamins like thiamine, niacin, and folate.

– Provides manganese and selenium which play roles in immunity, metabolism, and antioxidant protection.

– High in easily digestible carbohydrates. Brown rice is higher in fiber than white rice.

So individually, beans and rice offer fiber, protein, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates. By combining them, you get a meal that contains all essential amino acids for a complete protein source.

Nutritional Profile of Bean and Rice Burritos

The specific nutrition of a bean and rice burrito can vary considerably depending on the ingredients used. But in general, a homemade burrito containing 1/2 cup each of rice and beans would provide:

– 200-300 calories
– 15-20 grams protein
– 5-10 grams fiber
– 30-40 grams carbohydrates
– 10-20% DV for iron, magnesium, potassium, folate, zinc, manganese, and selenium
– 10-15% DV for vitamins A, C, B1, B3, B6, and B9
– Under 500 mg sodium

Burritos made with brown rice, whole grain tortillas, and less processed ingredients will be higher in fiber and micronutrients. Adding veggies like peppers, onions, tomatoes, and lettuce can further boost vitamin and antioxidant content.

Compared to a burrito from a restaurant or fast food chain, homemade burritos with wholesome ingredients are generally much lower in calories, fat, and sodium while being higher in fiber and vitamins.

Potential Health Benefits

Given the nutritional profile of bean and rice burritos, some of the potential health benefits include:

Weight Management

Bean and rice burritos are high in protein and fiber while being moderate in calories. Protein and fiber support satiety and stable energy levels, which can aid weight management. One study found that people felt fuller and ate 12% less over the day when they added beans to their lunch.

Heart Health

The fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in bean and rice burritos support heart health in various ways. Folate may reduce high homocysteine levels, a risk factor for heart disease. Potassium helps control blood pressure. And the fiber and antioxidants lower LDL cholesterol and inflammation.

Blood Sugar Control

Despite containing carbohydrates, bean and rice burritos are relatively low on the glycemic index. The fiber and protein help slow the digestion and absorption of the carbohydrates, resulting in a more gradual rise in blood sugar. This makes them a good option for people with diabetes.

Colon Health

The high fiber content of beans and whole grains feeds the healthy bacteria in the colon. This can improve digestive health and reduce the risk of colon cancer. Beans also contain resistant starch that resists digestion and acts as a prebiotic.

Anemia Prevention

Bean and rice burritos contain iron, folate, and vitamin B12 – nutrients that help prevent anemia resulting from low red blood cell levels. The vitamin C in added veggies can further boost iron absorption.

Muscle Building

The complete protein in bean and rice burritos makes them a smart choice after a workout. Protein provides the amino acids for repairing and building muscle. Rice offers fast digesting carbs to replenish glycogen stores.

Potential Downsides

Bean and rice burritos made with wholesome ingredients are generally healthy. But there are some potential downsides to keep in mind:

– May cause flatulence or bloating in sensitive individuals due to the beans. This can be reduced by soaking and sprouting beans before cooking.

– Large burritos from restaurants often have excessive calories, sodium, and fat from toppings like cheese, sour cream, guacamole, etc. Enjoy these in moderation.

– Burritos on flour tortillas are higher glycemic than whole grain or corn tortillas. Pick whole grain when possible.

– Some people find them too high in carbs, especially white rice varieties. Limit portion size and pair with non-starchy veggies.

– Rice and beans alone are not a complete diet. Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and lean proteins.

As long as you pay attention to portion sizes and ingredients, bean and rice burritos can be part of a balanced, healthy diet for most people. Those with diverticulitis may need to avoid beans that are not well-cooked and easily digestible.

How to Make Healthy Bean and Rice Burritos

Here are some tips for making bean and rice burritos nutritious:

– Choose whole grain tortillas over white flour varieties. Look for ones with at least 3g fiber per serving.

– Opt for brown or wild rice over white rice for more nutrients and fiber.

– Use dry beans and cook from scratch if possible versus canned for less sodium.

– Load up on veggies like spinach, kale, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes.

– Add avocado, salsa, cilantro, lime juice, hot sauce for extra flavor.

– Use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream or cheese for a protein boost without the saturated fat.

– Saute onions and peppers in veggie broth instead of oil to reduce fat.

– Use just a small amount of shredded cheese as a garnish rather than covering the whole burrito.

– Grill or bake burritos instead of frying to lower fat and calories.

– Enjoy burrito bowls without the tortilla to reduce carbs.

Healthy Bean and Rice Burrito Recipe

This vegetarian burrito recipe is loaded with fiber, protein, vitamins and antioxidants while being lower in fat, sodium and refined carbs.


– 1 15-ounce can low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
– 3/4 cup uncooked brown rice
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1/2 onion, diced
– 1 red bell pepper, chopped
– 3 garlic cloves, minced
– 1 teaspoon chili powder
– 1/4 teaspoon cumin
– 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
– Juice of 1 lime
– 4 whole wheat tortillas
– 1 avocado, sliced
– 2 cups baby spinach
– 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese


1. Cook brown rice according to package directions.
2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion and pepper 5 minutes until tender. Add garlic, chili powder and cumin and cook 1 more minute.
3. Add black beans, cooked rice, cilantro and lime juice to the skillet. Cook until heated through, about 2-3 minutes.
4. Warm the tortillas in a skillet or microwave briefly.
5. Fill each tortilla with rice and bean mixture and top with avocado slices, spinach and feta cheese. Fold over sides and roll up tortilla.
6. Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers up to 4 days.

This easy burrito recipe takes about 30 minutes to make and provides around 300 calories and 7-10 grams of fiber per burrito. The mix of whole grains, beans, veggies and avocado offers a nutritional powerhouse in one convenient hand-held meal.

Healthy Purchased Burrito Options

Making homemade burritos allows you to control the ingredients and portions. But you can also find healthier prepared burritos if you know what to look for:

Trader Joe’s

– Vegetable Burrito – 290 calories, 5g fiber
– Organic Brown Rice & Black Bean Burrito – 340 calories, 6g fiber
– Chili Lime Chicken Burrito – 300 calories, 5g fiber

Amy’s Organic

– Black Beans & Rice Burrito – 340 calories, 6g fiber
– Vegetable Burrito – 290 calories, 6g fiber
– Beef & Black Bean Burrito – 340 calories, 6g fiber

Sweet Earth

– Seven Grain Burrito – 260 calories, 8g fiber
– Benevolent Bacon Burrito – 290 calories, 7g fiber

When purchasing prepared burritos, aim for at least 5 grams of fiber and under 350 calories per serving. Watch out for burritos with white flour tortillas, saturated fat from cheese/sour cream, and high sodium levels.

Are Bean and Rice Burritos Healthy for Weight Loss?

Bean and rice burritos can be a smart choice for weight loss diets in moderation. Here’s why:

High Protein

The beans and rice together provide quality plant-based protein to help you feel full. Adding Greek yogurt or a small sprinkle of cheese increases protein even more.

High Fiber

Beans, brown rice, whole grain tortillas and veggies make burritos high in fiber which slows digestion and controls hunger and cravings.

Lower Calorie

Homemade burritos can be around 300 calories versus up to 1000 calories for a mega burrito at a restaurant. Keep portions reasonable.

Nutrient Dense

You get a wide range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants from all the whole food ingredients. This provides nutrition your body needs without excess calories.


The flavor and heartiness of a bean and rice burrito can satisfy cravings for Mexican food while still supporting a reduced calorie diet.

To make your burritos weight loss friendly: watch your portion sizes, avoid fatty toppings like lots of cheese, choose healthier cooking methods like baking instead of frying, and pair with veggies and fruit.

Are Bean and Rice Burritos Healthy for Muscle Building?

Yes, bean and rice burritos can support a muscle building diet. Here’s how:

Complete Protein

The amino acid combo from beans and rice provides the essential protein required for building and repairing muscle tissue after strength training.

Complex Carbs

The fiber rich whole grains and beans supply sustained energy and the complex carbs needed for glycogen replenishment in muscles.

Nutrient Delivery

The range of vitamins and minerals help transport nutrients into cells efficiently. Magnesium and manganese specifically aid protein synthesis.


The antioxidants help reduce inflammation from intense training allowing for faster muscle recovery.

Lean Gains

With no saturated fat and lower calories, burritos can provide clean fuel for gaining muscle without excess body fat.

Aim for 20-30 grams of protein per burrito. Have after workouts or as regular meals to promote lean muscle mass. Brown rice, veggies and healthy fats make them even better for bulking up.

Are Bean and Rice Burritos Healthy for Diabetes?

Bean and rice burritos can be incorporated into a healthy diabetes diet with some modifications:

Choose Whole Grains

Whole wheat or corn tortillas have a lower glycemic index than white flour tortillas. Look for >3g fiber per serving.

Load Up on Veggies

Add lots of low-carb veggies like spinach, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes etc to provide bulk.

Control Portions

Stick to a 1/2 cup each of rice and beans so the carb count stays manageable.

Reduce Sodium

Use low sodium beans, seasoning blends without salt, and skip processed cheese/sour cream.

Pick Smart Toppings

Top with avocado, salsa, cilantro, Greek yogurt for more nutrition without spiking blood sugar.

Manage Fat

Use plant oils sparingly, choose lean meats, and avoid greasy fried burritos.

Diabetics should monitor portions and aim to pair bean and rice burritos with non-starchy vegetables and healthy fats. Consider a burrito bowl without the tortilla to further reduce carbs.


Bean and rice burritos can provide a nutritious convenience meal that’s protein and fiber rich while providing essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Homemade burritos made with quality whole food ingredients are generally quite healthy and support weight management, muscle building, and other diet goals with proper portion sizes. Even store bought burritos can be a healthy option if you choose ones with whole grain tortillas, lower sodium and calories, and more fiber. While not the lowest carb option, bean and rice burritos made with care can absolutely be part of an overall balanced diet for most people.

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