Commonly referred to as string beans, green beans can get you many valuable nutrients. There are as many as over 130 varieties and can be consumed canned, fresh, frozen, steamed, boiled, stir-fried, or baked in casseroles. What’s not to love about them?
Here are some health benefits of these magnificent green goodies:
Fresh green beans are very low in calories (31 calories per 100 g of raw bean pods) and contain no saturated fat. Nevertheless, these lean pod vegetables are a very good source of vitamins, minerals, and plant derived micronutrients.
The beans are very rich source of dietary fiber (9% per 100g RDA) which acts as a bulk laxative. Fiber helps to protect mucosa in the colon by decreasing its exposure time to toxic substances as well as by binding to cancer-causing chemicals in the gut.
Adequate amount of fiber has also been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels by decreasing reabsorption of cholesterol-binding bile acids in the colon.
Green beans contain excellent levels of vitamin A, and health promoting flavonoid poly phenolic antioxidants such as lutein, zea-xanthin and ß-carotene in good amounts.
These compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes.
Zea-xanthin, an important dietary carotenoids in the beans, is selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea in the eyes where it thought to provide antioxidant and protective UV-light filtering functions. Therefore green beans offer some protection in the prevention of age-related macular disease (ARMD) in the elderly.
Snap beans are a good source of folates. 100 g fresh beans provide 37 µg or 9% of folates. Folate along with vitamin B-12 is one of the essential components of DNA synthesis and cell division. Good folate diet when given during preconception periods and during pregnancy may help prevent neural-tube defects in the newborn babies.
They also carry good amounts of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B1 (thiamin), and vitamin C. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals.
In addition, beans contain healthy amounts of minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and potassium, which are very essential for body metabolism.
Manganese is a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase, which is a very powerful free radical scavenger.
Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure.
Green Bean Salad
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 12 ounces green and/or yellow beans
- 2 bell peppers, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts, (see Tip)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Preheat oven to 400°F (or see Grill Variation, below).
- To prepare packets, start with four 20- to 24-inch-long pieces of parchment paper or foil. Fold in half crosswise. With the parchment or foil folded, draw half a heart shape on one side as you would if you were making a Valentine. Use scissors to cut out the heart shape. Open up the heart.
- Mix oil, mustard, syrup, garlic, and salt in a large bowl. Add beans and peppers; toss.
- Place one-fourth of the vegetable mixture (about 1 cup) on one side of each open heart fairly close to the crease and leaving at least a 1-inch border around the edges for folding. Sprinkle with pine nuts.
- Close the packet to cover the ingredients. Starting at the top, seal the packet by folding the edges together in a series of small, tight folds. Twist the tip of the packet and tuck it underneath to help keep the packet closed.