Though they are colloquially called beans, scientifically, what we know as green beans are more closely akin to pod vegetables. Sometimes also known as snap beans or string beans, they are picked and consumed before they mature, and as such are much more like snap peas and okra then ‘beans’.
Like your mother used to say, you should eat your vegetables, they are good for you. Fruits and vegetables are universally accepted to be beneficial dietary choices. Studies consistently find that a diet high in fruits and vegetables confers a number of positive health effects such as fighting heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Of course that’s just a taste of what a diet high in vegetables can do for you, and green beans can be a healthy element of such a plant rich diet.
Beans Helps to Beat Cancer
Chlorophyll is the compound in plants that make them green. It is an essential part of the photosynthetic process—the process by which plants convert sunlight into energy—and when consumed by humans chlorophyll as an interesting effect. When grilling or searing meats, the resulting black charred bits are full of compounds known as heterocyclic amines. Known carcinogens, these compounds can increase the risk of cancer. Pairing green beans with charred meats is an effective way to increase your chlorophyll intake; chlorophyll can reduce the carcinogenic effects of heterocyclic amines.
Beans Boost Fertility
Iron is a fertility boosting nutrient and a key component in a woman’s diet. Green beans, along with many other greens such as spinach are high in iron. Of course iron alone isn’t the only key nutrient for mother and baby; folic acid is also a big part of a healthy pregnancy and a healthy reproductive system. Green beans are a healthy choice for couples looking to conceive; one cup provides 10% of recommended daily folic acid intake and 6% of recommended daily iron.
Beans Fight Depression
Folates have a variety of health benefits, and meeting the daily recommended amount may contribute to the lessening of depression symptoms. This is due to the fact that folate consumption can reduce the build-up of homocysteine within your body. Too much homocysteine can inhibit nutrient absorption in the brain and this means lower levels of all of the good mood regulating hormones—serotonin and dopamine.
Beans Build Bones
Vitamin K has been linked to the strength of bones. A vitamin K deficiency can lead to a weak bone matrix from poor absorption of calcium. More vitamin K means more calcium is absorbed and less is excreted as waste. A single cup of green beans has nearly 20% of the daily recommended intake—roughly 14 micrograms. While not a high source of calcium, many diets are low in calcium and green beans contain about 4% of the daily recommended amount.
While many people will skip their vegetables in favour of supplements, studies have consistently shown that consuming vitamins and nutrients within our diets is much more effective than isolating the nutrients in supplements. The bottom line: eat your vegetables.
Beans and Cardiovascular Disease
Green beans are also a major source of flavonoids. These antioxidants have an inflammation fighting effect on the body and have been shown to reduce chances of blood clots and strokes. Known as thrombotic activity, these cardiovascular events can have serious consequences and a diet rich in flavonoids—such as one that favours green beans—can significantly reduce cardiovascular risks.
Beans Regulate Diabetes
While it is uncommon to find natural remedies to the symptoms of diabetes, green beans have consistently been linked to the regulation of blood sugar levels in those suffering from the debilitating disease. While green beans alone will not treat a diagnosis, their regulating effects can have a positive effect on the lives of many people.
Beans Beef up the Immune System
Antioxidants have a tremendous range of beneficial effects on our bodies. They reduce inflammation, fight free radical damage, and can reduce the risk of cancer. As we learn more about antioxidants, it is clear that green beans are better for us than previously suspected. Flavonoid components such as quercetin and kamferol and the recently uncovered catechins and epicatechins can protect the body and reduce the risk of serious disease.
Beans mean Better Eyes
Various compounds within green beans are known to reduce stress to components in the eye. These include lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that keep the macula from being damaged (the macula is a part of the retina). Combined with other eye-health fruits and vegetables, a diet high in green beans can help reduce the effects of progressive vision deterioration.
Beans mean Less Gastrointestinal Issues
Despite all of the powerful health benefits that green beans confer, this is what they’re known for. The high fibre content in green beans means that they are good for a variety of digestive issues. Minor symptoms like constipation, haemorrhoids, and acid reflux disease can be reduced and green beans also contribute to more serious conditions such as ulcers. The best vegetable for digestive health, a single serving of beans contains as much as 110 grams of fibre—as much as 15% of your daily recommended intake.