Some of the health benefits of green beans include the reduced risk of heart disease and colon cancer, as well as an improved regulation of diabetes. Green beans provide a big boost to your immune system and contributes to the elimination of harmful free radicals.
These nutrient-packed beans also provide benefits to the health of your eyes and bones, while regulating your digestive processes. They have also been shown to reduce the risk of birth defects for pregnant women. This low-calorie dietary choice is great for acquiring vitamins and minerals without adding any unwanted pounds!
Introduction to Green Beans
Green beans are members of the common bean family, Phaseolus vulgaris, and are a popular part of diets around the world. There are slight variations in shape in different areas of cultivation and green beans may be called many different things, including French beans, fine beans, string beans, or even squeaky beans, depending on where you are eating them. There are approximately 150 varieties of green beans throughout the world that come in all shapes and colors, even purple! Despite the variable appearance of the beans, their nutritional content and health benefits remain similar.
Green beans are a versatile vegetable that can be grown in many different climates, which has helped to make them such a popular and globally recognized food. Although popularized in many American and European dishes, they are widely cultivated across Asia and Africa as well. They appear in a wide array of cultural dishes and offer health benefits to people all around the world.
Green beans fall into two categories: “pole beans” and “bush beans”. Pole beans tend to climb like vines, require support systems to grow properly, and are slightly slower in reaching maturity. Bush beans are lower to the ground, require no support, and have faster developmental rates, meaning that some farmers and growers can have more than one crop of bush beans in a single season. It is important to remember that green beans are unripe or immature foods, so some people prefer to soak or cook the beans before eating them, but there are no proven harmful effects of eating raw green beans.
While many “common beans” share similar attributes, they are each unique, and are chosen for diets according to the individual properties that each one offers. Green beans are a favorite choice in many cultures for the variety of vitamins, nutrients, and beneficial properties that they contain!
The nutritional benefits of green beans are hard to argue with. These delicious and crunchy beans are low in calories and fat and contain no cholesterol. The fiber content of green beans is very high, and it also provides some of your daily protein requirements. They also act as an easy source for acquiring vitamins like A, C, K, B6, and folic acid. In terms of minerals, green beans are a good source of calcium, silicon, iron, manganese, potassium, and copper.
Green beans provide a wealth of nutrients in addition to being a versatile and delicious element in many different recipes!
Health Benefits of Green Beans
Cardiovascular Disease: Green beans can help reduce the risk of heart disease due to their high levels of flavonoids. Flavonoids are polyphenolic antioxidants that are commonly found in fruits and vegetables. Green beans have high levels of flavonoids and these antioxidants have certain anti-inflammatory properties. Test subjects with high flavonoid levels experienced anti-thrombotic results, preventing blood clots in the arteries and veins. Cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes are commonly caused by thrombotic activity, which means that a healthy volume of green beans and flavonoids in a diet can help prevent some of these conditions.
Colon Cancer: Recent studies have shown green bean consumption to be beneficial for preventing pre-cancerous polyps that commonly lead to colon cancer. Many studies have tried to link dry bean intake to cancer prevention, with limited results. However, new evidence suggests that increasing dietary green bean intake can reduce the risk of cancerous adenoma recurrence and colorectal cancer. More studies are ongoing, but that linkage is very important.
Secondly, the high fiber content of green beans can also positively impact your digestive system. Certain types of fiber can ease the digestive process and promote healthy bowel movements, which decreases the stress on the intestinal tract. Certain studies have shown a positive correlation between increased fiber intake and a reduction in colon cancer, but again, more research is still being performed.
Diabetes: These power-packed legumes have been shown to help manage and regulate diabetes symptoms in many patients. Certain studies have shown a definitive hypoglycemic influence on patients with diabetes. Diabetes is a condition that requires constant maintenance of blood sugar levels at a normal level so the body can perform necessary tasks. Natural regulators of diabetes are rare, and the connection of beans and similar plants to the control or early prevention of diabetes is great news for many people.
Immune System: The presence of various immune system-boosting antioxidants in green beans is well known, but as more research on their benefits is done, it is becoming clear that there are far more antioxidant properties than we previously thought. Antioxidants are beneficial compounds in our body that seek out dangerous free radicals and eliminate them from our system before they can cause illness or tissue damage.
Green beans are a good source of flavonoids and carotenoids, but the variety of those pigments was previously unknown. Flavonoids contain basic antioxidants like quercetin and kamferol, but also more useful and beneficial ones like catechins and epicatechins. Catechins have been shown to reduce the severity of strokes. Carotenoids found in green beans contain antioxidants like beta carotene and lutein. Beta carotene has been linked to a number of benefits within the body.
Eye Health: Certain specific carotenoids that are found in green beans can also prevent macular degeneration, which is a decrease in vision and eye function. Lutein and Zeaxanthin are focused at the macula on the eye, and play a key role in preventing any stress to the inner workings of the eye. Ensuring that these carotenoid levels stay strong to prevent vision deterioration is one of the many benefits of including green beans in your balanced diet.
Bone Health: There are a number of nutrients, such as calcium, found in green beans that are integral in preventing bone deterioration and osteoporosis. Green beans contain vitamin K, vitamin A, and silicon. Deficiencies in many of these compounds have been connected to increased bone loss, strength, and durability. Silicon is not the most common mineral to hear about, and significant amounts are relatively rare in most foods. However, green beans are a terrific source for silicon, which is a key element in bone regeneration and overall bone health.
Gastrointestinal Issues – Green beans are packed with fiber, which is a hugely beneficial compound in our bodies. By keeping enough fiber in our diets, we are able to ease certain digestive issues like constipation, hemorrhoids, ulcers, and acid reflux disease. These conditions range from mild irritants to potentially life threatening, and the amount of fiber we consume is a key element in their prevention. In a normal serving of green beans, which is 110 grams, you can gain 15% of the daily recommended amount of fiber. Green beans are one of the best vegetables to keep your stomach working properly.
Pre-Natal Health – Green beans are also a great source of folic acid, which plays a key role in a number of internal processes, but none are more important than protecting infants in the womb. Folic acid levels in a woman’s body are vital to the normal and healthy development of the fetus in utero, especially in preventing neural tube defects. Green beans provide an easy and delicious way to keep folic acid levels high, and ensure a healthy and happy baby.
Green Beans – Health Risks
Green beans are one of those foods with extremely few risk factors, but there are always certain things to be wary of.
Phytates – Phytic acid is present in green beans and can contribute to nutrient deficiencies when overeaten. Phytic acid bonds with calcium, zinc, and other important minerals and does not allow them to be absorbed by the body. Although the phytate levels in green beans are relatively low, if you suffer from other conditions that cause mineral deficiency, the addition of more phytic acid might not be the best choice for you. Also, cooking or soaking beans significantly reduces amounts of phytic acid, so just avoid eating them raw if you are concerned about phytate levels.
Lectins – Lectins are carb-binding proteins found in a variety of foods, but are notoriously present in beans. Green beans happen to have lower levels than others, but it is still there, and too much lectin can cause the proteins to bind up the intestinal system and cause a variety of digestive problems. Similar to phytic acid, cooking at high temperatures or prolonged soaking in water can reduce the lectin content of most foods.
Allergies – As with any food, some people are allergic to green beans and other legumes, so make sure to consult with a doctor about how to treat your food allergies, or find other, less discomfiting foods to add into your diet rather than green beans.