Benefits Of Green beans

Benefits Of Green beans

Commonly referred to as string beans, the string that once was their trademark (running lengthwise down the seam of the pod) can seldom be found in modern varieties. It's for this reason (the breeding out of the "string") that string beans are often referred to as "snap beans." Because they are picked at a younger, immature stage, "snap beans" can literally be snapped in half with a simple twist of the fingers. Although these bright green and crunchy beans are available at your local market throughout the year, they are in season from summer through early fall when they are at their best and the least expensive. You may also see them referred to as "haricot vert"  this term simply means "green bean" in French and is the common French term for this vegetable. This term can also refer to specific varieties of green beans that are popular in French cuisine because of their very thin shape and very tender texture.

Green beans belong to the same family as shell beans, such as pinto beans, black beans, and kidney beans. In fact, all of these beans have the exact same genus/species name in science — Phaseolus vulgaris  and all can be referred to simply as "common beans." However, since green beans are usually picked while still immature and while the inner beans are just beginning to form in the pod, they are typically eaten in fresh (versus dried) form, pod and all.

Green beans are often deep emerald green in color and come to a slight point at either end. Green bean varieties of this common bean family are usually selected for their great texture and flavor while still young and fresh on the vine. In contrast, dried bean varieties like pinto or black or kidney beans are usually selected for their ability to produce larger and more dense beans during the full time period when they mature on the vine. At full maturity, their pods are often too thick and fibrous to be readily enjoyed in fresh form, but the beans inside their pods are perfect for drying and storing.

Nutritional Benefits

  • Green beans (string beans) have the same nutritional benefits as other common beans such as lima beans, mung beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, and navy beans.
  • Common beans are low in fat and offer an excellent source of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. They are also a very good source of folic acid and molybdenum.  They provide significant amounts of iron, phosphorus, magnesium, manganesese, and potassium.
  • The major health benefit of common beans is their ability to lower cholesterol due to their rich source of fiber.  Studies have shown that the high fiber contained in beans prevents blood sugar levels form rising too rapidly after a meal.  This makes beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance, or hypoglycemia.
  • Common beans promote heart health due to their fiber, antioxidants, folic acid, vitamin B6, and magnesium.  Folic acid and vitamin B6 help to lower levels of homocysteine, which is an amino acid that is an intermediate product in an important metabolic process called the methylation cycle.  Elevated blood levels of homocysteine are an independent risk factor for heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. These elevated blood levels are found in 20 to 40 percent of patients with heart disease. Research has indicated that beans are also protective against cancer.
  • Studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, revealed that richly colored dried beans offer a high degree of antioxidant protection. Small red kidney beans are rated the highest, just ahead of blueberries.

Health Benefits

Antioxidant Support from Green Beans
Best studied from a research standpoint is the antioxidant content of green beans. In addition to conventional antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C and beta-carotene, green beans contain important amounts of the antioxidant mineral manganese. But the area of phytonutrients is where green beans really shine through in their antioxidant value. Green beans contain a wide variety of carotenoids (including lutein, beta-carotene, violaxanthin, and neoxanthin) and flavonoids (including quercetin, kaemferol, catechins, epicatechins, and procyanidins) that have all been shown to have health-supportive antioxidant properties. In addition, the overall antioxidant capacity of green beans has been measured in several research studies, and in one study, green beans have been shown to have greater overall antioxidant capacity than similar foods in the pea and bean families, for example, snow peas or winged beans.



Cardiovascular Benefits
Just as you might expect, the antioxidant support provided by green beans provides us with some direct cardiovascular benefits. While most of the cardio research on green beans involves animal studies on rats and nice, improvement in levels of blood fats and better protection of these fats from oxygen damage has been shown to result from green bean intake. Interestingly, the green bean pod (the main portion of the green beans that provides the covering for the beans inside) appears to be more closely related to these cardio benefits that the young, immature beans that are found inside.

While not documented in the health research to date, we believe that the omega-3 fatty acid of content of green beans can also make an important contribution to their cardiovascular benefits. Most people do not even recognize green beans as a source of omega-3 fats! While there is a relatively small amount of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in green beans, this amount can still be very important and is actually fairly large in comparison to the amount of calories in green beans. You get 1 milligram of ALA for every 4 calories of green beans that you eat. For every 4 calories of walnuts that you eat, you get 1.4 milligrams of ALA. So you can see that green beans - while not as concentrated in ALA as walnuts - are nevertheless an underrated source of this heart-protective nutrient.

Other Health Benefits
The strong carotenoid and flavonoid content of green beans also appears to give this vegetable some potentially unique anti-inflammatory benefits. For example, some very preliminary research in laboratory animals shows decreased activity of certain inflammation-related enzymes - lipoxygenases (LOX) and cyclooxygenases (COX) - following intake of bean extracts. Because type 2 diabetes is a health problem that is known to contain a basic component of chronic, unwanted inflammation, we are also not surprised to see some very preliminary research in the area of green bean intake, anti-inflammatory benefits, and prevention of type 2 diabetes.

Consumption Tips

Wash raw beans in cold water. Just before using, remove the strings and trim the ends.
Here are some serving tips:
  • Green beans are most favored vegetable items in stir-fry, stews, grilled-salads, Steamed along with carrots, cauliflower, peas, tomato...etc.
  • They mix well with cheese, nuts, mushroom, seafood, meat etc.
  • In Asian region, they are used in curries, soups, stir-fry with rice (rice pilaf) etc.

Caution

Green beans contain oxalic acid, a naturally occurring substance found in some vegetables, which, may crystallize as oxalate stones in the urinary tract in some people. It is, therefore, people with known oxalate urinary tract stones are advised against eating vegetables belong to brassica and fabaceae family. Adequate intake of water is therefore advised to maintain normal urine output to minimize the stone risk.

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