Green beans are also called string beans. They are a rich source of vitamins A, C, and K, among other important nutrients. They are a favorite among most families and are a part of many delectable dishes.
Green beans are also powerful sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, in addition to other potent compounds. They can help lower the risk of certain cancers and heart disease, boost vision, and even help prevent certain birth defects (1).
In this post, we will explore the goodness of green beans in greater detail. We also will look at their nutritional profile and the various ways you can add them to your diet.
Table Of Contents
What Are The Health Benefits Of Green Beans?
The fiber content of the beans helps prevent various forms of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. The fiber also promotes digestive health, the calcium in the beans promotes bone health, while lutein and zeaxanthin boost vision.
1. May Help Combat Cancer
Intake of beans, in general, has been linked to a lower risk of breast cancer. This could be attributed to the high fiber content of the beans (2).
High intake of green beans can also cut the risk of colorectal cancer. These beans are rich in various bioactive compounds that offer protection against cancer. Their non-digestible carbs are fermented by the gut bacteria, leading to anti-inflammatory actions (3).
These beans also have a low glycemic index, which has also been associated with low cancer risk. Green beans contain saponins, gamma-tocopherol, and phytosterols, which are all compounds with anti-carcinogenic properties (3).
Green beans are abundant in chlorophyll, which also has a role to play in cancer prevention. Chlorophyll binds with certain compounds that may cause cancer, thereby hindering their absorption in the gastrointestinal tract. This can potentially prevent cancer (4).
2. May Promote Heart Health
Intake of legumes (which greens are a part of) has been linked to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. This can be attributed to the fiber and folate in beans (5).
They also contain vitamin B12, which, in combination, helps reduce plasma homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is a particular amino acid occurring in the body, the elevated levels of which have been linked to heart disease (5).
The magnesium in green beans may also have a role to play in preserving heart health (6).
The fiber in green beans (and other vegetables included) can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and even promote blood vessel function. This may invariably promote heart health (7).
3. May Help Control Diabetes
Studies show that green beans can induce beneficial metabolic effects in individuals with diabetes (8).
Although vegetables, in general, are healthy, those containing more starch may not be advisable for people with diabetes. Green beans are nonstarchy (they contain less starch). These contain fewer carbs and are an ideal addition to a diabetes diet (9).
Having a cup of beans a day, along with a low-glycemic diet, may help lower blood sugar levels and even cut heart disease risk in people with diabetes (10).
4. May Promote Gastrointestinal Health
The fiber in the beans plays a major role here. Inadequate fiber intake has often been linked to constipation. Fiber also boosts the overall gastrointestinal function (11).
Beans, in general, contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, with the insoluble type being the most prominent (75%). This type of fiber moves fast through your digestive system. This not only promotes a healthy digestive tract but also helps prevent most forms of digestive cancer (12).
Consuming green beans could also help treat the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. This can be attributed to the fiber content in the beans (13).
5. May Strengthen Bones
Beans, in general, are a good source of calcium. Calcium can cut osteoporosis risk (14).
Green beans are also rich in vitamin K, which is another nutrient essential for strong bones (15).
The only possible downside of beans in this regard is their phytate content. Phytates are substances in beans that may hinder the absorption of certain nutrients, including calcium. In other words, phytates are anti-nutrients.
However, you can reduce the phytate content in the beans by soaking them in water for a few hours before cooking them in fresh water (16).
6. May Help Maintain Ideal Weight
Green beans are low in calories. A cup of steamed green beans contains just about 44 calories (17). They could be a smart way to amp up your meal.
Though green beans haven’t been directly associated with weight loss, their low calorie count may help in this regard.
7. May Promote Immunity
Green beans contain carotenoids and are an excellent source of vitamin A. A cup of green beans offers close to 20% of the daily value for vitamin A. The nutrient fights inflammation and boosts your immune system (18).
8. May Improve Vision
Green beans are a rich source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two important antioxidants that promote vision health. Studies show how these nutrients can prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts (19).
A higher intake of lutein and zeaxanthin can also help prevent AMD in people who could be genetically predisposed to the disease (20).
These effects could be attributed to the lutein and zeaxanthin in green beans, which may help increase the macular pigment optical density (21).
9. May Help Treat Depression
Intake of fruits and vegetables, in general, has been associated with a lowered risk of depression. Green beans are rich in vitamin C and B vitamins, which are known to promote mental health (22).
These effects were observed to be more pronounced with the intake of raw fruits and vegetables (22).
Beans, in general, are also rich in magnesium, zinc, and the amino acids glutamine and tyrosine. All of these were found to boost mental health by enhancing the production of neurotransmitters (23).
The protein in the beans can also boost your body’s amino acid profile, thereby having a positive effect on your brain function and mental health (23).
Green beans also contain chromium, another essential nutrient for treating depression and promoting brain health (24).
10. Could Be Beneficial During Pregnancy
Green beans are rich in folate, a nutrient that is crucial during pregnancy. Folate is responsible for the production of red blood cells in the human body. It also plays a role in developing the nervous system of the embryo. Adequate folate reduces the risk of neural tube defects in infants (25).
Beans, in general, are among the healthiest of foods. Green beans are chock full of important nutrients, and they make for a healthful addition to your meal. In the following section, we will discuss the nutritional profile of green beans in detail.
What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Green Beans?
|Nutrient||Unit||1Value per 100 g||Data points||Std. Error||1 cup 1/2″ pieces = 100.0g||10.0 beans (4″ long) = 55.0g|
|Total lipid (fat)||g||0.22||14||0.03||0.22||0.12|
|Carbohydrate, by difference||g||6.97||—||—||6.97||3.83|
|Fiber, total dietary||g||2.7||4||0.05||2.7||1.5|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||mg||12.2||9||0.7||12.2||6.7|
|Vitamin B-12, added||µg||0||—||—||0||0|
|Vitamin A, RAE||µg||35||—||—||35||19|
|Vitamin A, IU||IU||690||—||—||690||380|
|Lutein + zeaxanthin||µg||640||6||50||640||352|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||mg||0.41||—||—||0.41||0.23|
|Vitamin E, added||mg||0||—||—||0||0|
|Vitamin D (D2 + D3)||µg||0||—||—||0||0|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone)||µg||43||—||—||43||23.6|
Source: USDA, Beans, snap, green, raw
Looking at the nutritional profile, grabbing a pack of green beans from your nearest supermarket is an absolute no-brainer. But how do you select and store it the right way?
How To Choose And Store Green Beans
- Check the color. Look for beans that bright green. A yellowish or brownish tint may mean they are spoiled.
- Check the surface. The skin of the pod must be tight and smooth. If the skin has creases or lumps, you may want to shove it aside.
- Ensure they snap. If the pod is firm, it must snap. Bend the pod and wait until you sense the snapping sound. This also means the beans are ripe.
- Check for the size. Pods that are too large or excessively thick are a big no. They may not have that fresh green bean flavor. Go for those that are medium-sized.
You can store unwashed fresh green bean pods in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper. They will stay fresh for about seven days.
Freezing green beans also works. You must first steam them for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove them from the heat and allow them to cool. Transfer them to freezer bags and store them in the freezer.
Consuming green beans regularly is the way to enjoy their benefits. Including them in your diet is quite simple.
How To Include Green Beans In Diet
The simplest way is to eat green beans raw. You can just pop in the beans. Or you may also include the raw beans in your vegetable salad. Here are some more ideas:
- You can add the beans to hummus.
- Roast the beans along with olive oil and other spices. It would make for a delectable curry.
- You can add the beans to your sandwich filling.
You can experiment in various other ways. But before you do that, you may want to consider their side effects.
What Are The Side Effects Of Green Beans?
The major adverse effects of green beans could be attributed to the presence of lectins and phytates. These compounds, called anti-nutrients, are designed to protect the plant from infections. In the human body, these can inhibit the absorption of certain nutrients, including calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium (26).
Another adverse effect is that they are high in some indigestible starches that may not be tolerated by people with gastric problems like bloating, gas, or those with symptoms of IBS (irritable bowl syndrome).
Soaking or boiling green beans before eating can deactivate most of these anti-nutrients (26).
Another concern is the vitamin K content in green beans. The nutrient forms blood clots and can interfere with blood-thinning medications, including Warfarin (27).
Green beans are popular across the world in a variety of cuisines. They may not only decrease the risk of high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome but also could be beneficial during pregnancy.
Consult your healthcare provider before you consume green beans if you are on blood-thinning medication.
How do you include green beans in your diet? Have any recipes to share? You may post them in the comments section below.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Are green beans keto?
Green beans are very low in carbs – 100 grams of the beans contain just about 7 grams of carbs. Hence, the beans can be part of a keto diet.
Can green beans cause gas?
Some anecdotal evidence suggests that green beans may cause gas (which also states that pre-soaking the beans before cooking can prevent this). There is less research here, though.
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