Household Treasures: Green Beans, benefits and uses

Green beans may not be the first food that comes to mind as you plan your meals, but with a little ingenuity and drive to add variety to your supper, they can be a tasty, go-to food.

Green

Green beans, string beans, or snap beans are a rich source of vitamins A, C, and K, and of folic acid and fiber. They have similar nutritional benefits to snap peas and okra. Bean farmers harvest green beans while the beans are still in their pod before they have had a chance to mature.

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Benefits

The nutrients provided can help reduce the risk of a number of health conditions.

Cancer

Green beans contain a high amount of chlorophyll. This may block the carcinogenic effects of heterocyclic amines that are generated when grilling meats at a high temperature. Individuals who prefer their grilled foods charred should pair them with green vegetables to decrease the risk.

Fertility and pregnancy

For women of child-bearing age, consuming more iron from plant sources such as spinach, beans, pumpkin, and green beans appears to promote fertility, according to Harvard Medical School. Other studies have shown a correlation between a woman’s level of fertility and the level of according to, including iron, that she consumes.

Pairing iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods like tomatoes, bell peppers, or berries can improve iron absorption.

Adequate folic acid intake is also needed during pregnancy, to protect the fetus against neural tube defects. One cup of green beans provides approximately 10 percent of daily folic acid needs and 6 percent of iron.

Read more: Household Treasures: Cauliflower, benefits and risks

Depression

Meeting daily folate needs may also help with depression. Adequate folate consumption can prevent an excess of homocysteine in the body.

Too much homocysteine can stop blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain, and it can interfere with the production of the feel-good hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate mood, sleep, and appetite.

Bone health

A low intake of vitamin K is associated with a higher risk of bone fracture. Adequate vitamin K consumption improves bone health by modifying bone matrix proteins, improving calcium absorption, and reducing urinary excretion of calcium.

One cup of green beans provides 14.4 micrograms of vitamin K, or almost 20 percent of the daily requirement, 4 percent of a person’s daily need for calcium.

It is important to remember that it is not the individual vitamins, minerals, or antioxidants alone that make vegetables like green beans such an important part of our diet.

It has been proven that isolating these healthful nutrients in supplement form will not provide the same outcomes. It is best to consume them as part of a healthy, varied diet.

Read more: Household Treasures: Ginger, superfoods and benefits

Heart

Green beans contain no cholesterol. Although your body needs some cholesterol for healthy cell growth, too much is bad for you. High cholesterol may lead to a build-up of fat deposits in your arteries. This can decrease blood flow to your heart and brain and cause a heart attack or stroke.

One cup of raw green beans has 2.7 g of fiber. Cooked (boiled) green beans have 4.0 g of fiber, some of it soluble fiber. Soluble fiber may help lower LDL or so-called bad cholesterol and total cholesterol levels. It may also support heart health by lowering blood pressure and reducing inflammation.

The American Heart Association recommends eating no more than 1,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium daily for optimal heart health. Green beans are naturally low in sodium. One cup has only 6.6 milligrams (mg).

Too much sodium in your diet may increase your blood pressure. High blood pressure is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. But beware of canned green beans. One undrained cup contains 461 mg of sodium. Rinse canned green beans before eating or choose no-salt added varieties.

Diet

Green beans are available fresh, frozen, or canned. It is important to rinse and drain canned beans, as this reduces the sodium content by up to 41 percent.

Fresh beans should be crisp and bright green in color. Refrigerating them in a bag can maintain freshness.

Read more: Household Treasures: Grapefruit, benefits and risks

Quick tips
  • Some types of green beans can be eaten raw. Just snap or cut off each end and add to a salad or dip in your favorite hummus.
  • Drizzle fresh green beans with olive oil, garlic, and fresh cracked pepper and roast at 425 Fahrenheit for 20 to 25 minutes, turning halfway through.
  • Top fresh green beans with a marinara sauce and sprinkle with fresh Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Try some of these healthy and delicious recipes developed by registered dietitians:

How to choose and store green beans

Fresh green beans are the healthiest option. Look for beans that are bright green and free of black spots and blemishes. The beans should not be flimsy. For the most nutritional benefits, eat fresh green beans as soon as possible after harvesting or purchasing.

Cooking green beans may cause a reduction in some nutrients such as vitamin C, as does thawing frozen green beans. As a result, don’t thaw frozen green beans and cook them in a small amount of water for the least amount of time necessary.

Fresh green beans should be refrigerated in a plastic bag and used within one week.

Read more: Household Treasures: Pineapples, benefits and uses

Risks

People who are taking blood-thinners, such as Coumadin, or warfarin, should not suddenly change the amount of food they eat that contains vitamin K, as it plays a large role in blood clotting.

Lectins are a kind of protein that bind up carbohydrates. They are present in beans, including green beans. They can cause problems in the digestive system. Cooking beans can reduce the levels of lectin.

Green beans contain phytic acid, which can bond with minerals and prevent them from being absorbed by the body. People who have a mineral deficiency should check with a doctor before consuming additional green beans.

It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. It is better to eat a diet with a variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.Top of Form

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