Black Bean Corn and Couscous Salad

Article written and reviewed by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD and Robby Barbaro, MPH
Published July 22, 2022

Can diabetics have couscous? Of course, and it's actually great for you! This salad can be made ahead of time and be ready when you are to enjoy a hearty and flavorful meal.

Summer is the perfect time to make this salad because you can make it ahead of time, so it is great for an easy weeknight meal or to bring to a picnic or cookout. The couscous and black beans help make this plant-based dish a protein packed one

What is Couscous?

Couscous is a traditional food from Northern African cultures and consists of small balls of durum wheat or semolina flour. It is often mistaken for a grain, but it is actually the same dough that is made into many kinds of pasta. 

It first appeared in historical records in the 13th century in North African countries and was later reported to be a growing food staple in Middle Eastern countries and Turkey.

What Makes Couscous So Special?

Couscous is generally a healthful food that you can feel comfortable including as part of a plant-based, whole food diet. It's naturally low in fat, can be a good source of fiber (the whole wheat version), and provides protein, B vitamins, and plenty of minerals. 

Couscous, if eaten with vegetables, can make a hearty meal and meet the daily recommended requirements for several nutrients. That's right, we're not just talking about couscous for diabetics here -- it's great for everyone!

Is Couscous a Superfood?

Couscous is a high nutrition food containing selenium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, folate, thiamin, niacin, folic acid, manganese, and other vitamins and minerals. It is also a good source of fiber and protein. 

Whole-grain couscous is a good source of fiber. Fiber is good for you in a lot of ways. Couscous is a good source of plant-based protein, providing 6 grams per one-cup serving. 

It can help control blood sugar levels, can keep you feeling fuller longer, and it also can help lower cholesterol, which can reduce your chances of heart disease. But we're just getting started.

The fiber in couscous helps with digestion, since it helps your body process food more effectively so your meal will raise blood sugar levels slowly. And, since it moves food quickly through your intestinal tract, fiber can help prevent constipation. A higher-fiber diet can also lower your odds of intestinal and breast cancers. 

Whole wheat couscous can also be a healthy swap for foods that are low in nutrients and high on the glycemic index (meaning they'll raise your blood sugar levels quickly with no nutritional benefit) like refined white pasta or white rice.

So when someone asks you "can diabetics have couscous?" or "is couscous healthy for diabetics?" the answer is a resounding yes! 

Types of Couscous

Since couscous is a popular food in a number of cultures, there are many varieties. The three most common types of couscous include Moroccan, Israeli, and Lebanese, although Moroccan and Israeli styles are the ones most commonly found in United States supermarkets.

  • Moroccan couscous: This is the smallest couscous; each grain is only a little larger than semolina. It cooks in just a few minutes.
  • Israeli couscous: Also called pearl couscous, this type is much larger than Moroccan couscous and closely resembles little orbs of pasta. It takes about 10 minutes to cook.
  • Lebanese couscous: You may also see this referred to as Moghrabieh couscous. It is the largest of the three types and takes the longest to cook.

The nutrition of couscous can vary substantially based on what type of couscous you've purchased. As you might imagine, Moroccan couscous and Lebanese couscous won't have identical nutritional profiles. 

However, the most impactful aspect on couscous' nutrition is whether or not it has been made from whole grain durum, which is a kind of hard wheat grown in arid regions.

Buying Tips

Couscous has grown in popularity over the past few years, so you should not have too much trouble finding it in most major supermarkets. The first stop in a grocery store should be in the rice and/or grains aisle—that's where couscous is usually stocked.

If you can't find couscous there, next try the international food section. Some stores group foods from all different world cuisines in the same aisle; sometimes couscous is integrated within other aisles, such as the rice or pasta aisle. It's also available online.

How to Store Couscous

Like other whole-grain foods, uncooked whole-grain couscous can go rancid. If you store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, it can last up to 2 months. It’ll last 6 to 12 months in the refrigerator or freezer.

Don’t Forget About the Black Beans

The antioxidants, fiber, protein, and carbohydrates in black beans make them nutritionally powerful. A diet rich in beans can reduce your risk of several serious medical conditions and help your body to process calories more effectively.

Black beans are cost-effective, versatile, and chock full of vitamins and minerals, making this superfood a perfect addition to any healthy diet.

Although carbohydrate-rich, black beans generally will not cause a spike in your blood glucose. Studies have actually found the opposite. When people eat black beans with rice, their blood glucose levels tend to be lower than if they only ate rice. 

For people with diabetes, adding beans to a healthy diet can improve blood glucose control while reducing heart disease risk.

Black Bean Corn and Couscous Salad

Beverly Verwey
This salad can be made ahead of time and be ready when you are to enjoy a hearty and flavorful meal.
Course Dinner, Lunch, Salad
Servings 2
Calories 423 kcal


  • 1 can black beans drained
  • 1 cup frozen corn thawed
  • 10 cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/2 green, orange or yellow bell pepper diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro chopped
  • 2 cups cooked couscous
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • to taste black pepper
  • 1/2 head Romaine lettuce cut into ribbons or chopped


  • In a large bow, combine beans, corn, tomatoes, bell pepper, coriander and couscous.
  • In a small bowl, or jar, mix the vinegar, mustard, garlic and black pepper to make the dressing.
  • Pour the dressing over the salad and toss thoroughly.
  • On a serving plate spread out the romaine lettuce and top with salad.


  • Quinoa instead of couscous
  • Fresh parsley and basil instead of coriander
  • For a sharper taste use balsamic vinegar instead of rice wine vinegar


Calories: 423kcalCarbohydrates: 72.5gProtein: 19.3gFat: 2.3gSodium: 404.2mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

About the author 

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD and Robby Barbaro, MPH

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD, and Robby Barbaro, MPH are the coauthors of the New York Times bestselling book Mastering Diabetes: The Revolutionary Method to Reverse Insulin Resistance Permanently in Type 1, Type 1.5, Type 2, Prediabetes, and Gestational Diabetes. They are the cofounders of Mastering Diabetes, a coaching platform that teaches people how to reverse insulin resistance via low-fat, plant-based, whole-food nutrition. Cyrus has been living with type 1 diabetes since 2002, and has an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from UC Berkeley. Robby was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2000, and has been living a plant-based lifestyle since 2006. He worked at Forks Over Knives for 6 years, and earned a Master’s in Public Health in 2019.