7 Impressive Benefits of Green Beans

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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Green beans may seem like a typical staple at nightly dinners. However, what you may not be aware of are the health benefits that green beans have to offer. They appear to reduce the risk of heart diseases and colon cancer, help control diabetes, provide a boost to the immune system, and contribute to the elimination of harmful free radicals.

These nutrient-packed beans are an excellent low-calorie dietary choice that is great for acquiring vitamins and minerals without adding any unwanted pounds.

What are 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 the bean – they can be different shapes, colors (even purple), and by different names, including French beans, fine beans, string beans, or even squeaky beans, depending on the region of the world. There are approximately 150 varieties of green beans throughout the world! Despite the variable appearance of the beans, their nutritional content and health benefits remain similar.

Green beans are a versatile vegetable that, as mentioned, can be grown in many different climates. This has made them 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.

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Types of Beans

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. However, there are no proven harmful effects of eating raw green beans.

While many “common beans” share similar attributes, they are unique and are chosen according to the individual properties that each of the beans offers. Green beans are a favorite choice in many cultures for the variety of vitamins, nutrients, and beneficial properties they contain.

Green Beans Nutrition Facts

Nutrition Facts

Beans, snap, green, raw
Serving Size :
Water [g]90.32
Energy [kcal]31
Energy [kJ]131
Protein [g]1.83
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.22
Ash [g]0.66
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]6.97
Fiber, total dietary [g]2.7
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]3.26
Sucrose [g]0.36
Glucose (dextrose) [g]1.51
Fructose [g]1.39
Starch [g]0.88
Calcium, Ca [mg]37
Iron, Fe [mg]1.03
Magnesium, Mg [mg]25
Phosphorus, P [mg]38
Potassium, K [mg]211
Sodium, Na [mg]6
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.24
Copper, Cu [mg]0.07
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.22
Selenium, Se [µg]0.6
Fluoride, F [µg]19
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]12.2
Thiamin [mg]0.08
Riboflavin [mg]0.1
Niacin [mg]0.73
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.23
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.14
Folate, total [µg]33
Folate, food [µg]33
Folate, DFE [µg]33
Choline, total [mg]15.3
Betaine [mg]0.1
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]35
Carotene, beta [µg]379
Carotene, alpha [µg]69
Vitamin A, IU [IU]690
Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]640
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.41
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]43
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.05
16:0 [g]0.04
18:0 [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.01
18:1 [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.11
18:2 [g]0.04
18:3 [g]0.07
Tryptophan [g]0.02
Threonine [g]0.08
Isoleucine [g]0.07
Leucine [g]0.11
Lysine [g]0.09
Methionine [g]0.02
Cystine [g]0.02
Phenylalanine [g]0.07
Tyrosine [g]0.04
Valine [g]0.09
Arginine [g]0.07
Histidine [g]0.03
Alanine [g]0.08
Aspartic acid [g]0.26
Glutamic acid [g]0.19
Glycine [g]0.07
Proline [g]0.07
Serine [g]0.1
Sources include : USDA
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, these delicious and crunchy beans are low in calories and fat and contain no cholesterol. The fiber content is high, and these beans also provide some of the daily protein requirements. They also act as an easy source for acquiring vitamins like vitamin 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.

Health Benefits of Green Beans

In addition to being versatile and delicious in many culinary preparations, green beans provide a wealth of nutrients. Let’s look at the wide range of benefits in detail.

Reduce Heart Diseases

Green beans may help reduce the risk of heart diseases due to their high levels of flavonoids. Flavonoids are polyphenolic antioxidants commonly found in fruits and vegetables. They have high levels of flavonoids that contain certain anti-inflammatory properties. Test subjects with high flavonoid levels experienced anti-thrombotic results, preventing blood clots in the arteries and veins. Cardiovascular diseases, heart attacks, and strokes are commonly caused by thrombotic activity, so incorporation of green beans in your diet may help mitigate some of these conditions.

A basket filled with fresh green beans placed on a wooden table

Green beans Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Anticancer Potential

It has been suggested that increased produce (fruit and vegetable) consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of colon cancers. One recent study has shown green bean consumption may 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 investigation is still needed on this topic before any more definitive conclusions can be made.

The high fiber content of green beans can also positively impact the digestive system, easing the digestive process and promoting bowel movements, which decreases the stress on the bowel walls. Certain studies have shown a positive correlation between increased fiber intake and a reduction in colon cancer; but again, further in-depth research studies are still underway.

Additionally, the presence of chlorophyll in green beans may also be beneficial in cancer prevention. A research study conducted at Oregon State University in the United States notes that a compound in chlorophyll exhibits cancer chemopreventive properties.

Control Diabetes

A study on plant foods at the Central Food Technological Research Institute, India claims that green beans are one of the vegetables known to have 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, so the connection of green beans and similar plants to the control or early prevention of diabetes is great news for many to manage and prevent the disease.

Boost Immunity

The presence of various immune system-boosting antioxidants in green beans is well known. However, as more research on their benefits is conducted, even more, antioxidant properties have come to light. Antioxidants are beneficial compounds in our body that seek out dangerous free radicals, with the goal of eliminating them from our system before they can cause illness or tissue damage.

Green beans are a good source of carotenoids and flavonoids, with carotenoids found in green beans contain antioxidants like beta carotene and lutein. Flavonoids contain basic antioxidants like quercetin and kaempferol, but also more useful and beneficial ones like catechin and epicatechin. Catechin has been associated with reducing the severity of strokes.

Eye Care

Certain specific carotenoids that are found in green beans – as mentioned above – can 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 as part of your balanced diet.

Improve Bone Health

Green beans are a source of vitamin K. Extensive research on the effects of vitamin K on the body suggests that this vitamin is important for keeping the bones intact.

Calcium, found in green beans, is also integral in preventing bone deterioration and osteoporosis.

Silicon is a less common mineral to hear about, and significant amounts are relatively rare in most foods. However, green beans are a great source of silicon, which is a key element in bone regeneration and overall bone health.

Treat Gastrointestinal Issues

Green beans belong to the category of low FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) foods. Some experts recommend low FODMAP diets to those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive disorders with symptoms such as bloating, cramps and intestinal distress.

As mentioned, they are packed with fiber, which is a highly 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 percent of the daily recommended amount of fiber. They are one of the best vegetables to keep your stomach working properly.

Fertility & Pregnancy

In the Harvard Medical School‘s article titled, “Follow The Fertility Diet?” it emphasizes the consumption of healthy foods like green beans and pumpkins to increase fertility, given these foods are a powerhouse of various nutrients.

Green beans are 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 Side Effects

Green beans are one of those foods with extremely few risk factors. A few risk factors include the following:

  • Phytates: Phytic acid is present in green beans, and can contribute to nutrient deficiencies when consumed in excess. Phytic acid binds with calcium, zinc, and other important minerals, and prevents them from being absorbed by the body. Although the phytate levels in green beans are relatively low, if you suffer from other conditions that cause a mineral deficiency, the addition of more phytic acid may 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.
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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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