You are probably aware than beans are referred to as the magical fruit for reasons entirely unrelated to their health benefits. This focus on flatulence distracts many from the fact that beans are full of antioxidants and flavonoids, and offer a number of health benefits. Learn more about green beans and why they should be a staple of a healthful diet.
A Short History of Green Beans
Beans are of South American origin, where they were cultivated by the Mayans and Inca Indians. They have been part of the Mexican diet for more than 7,000 years. Beans were introduced to Europe by Spanish explorers in the 16th century and spread globally through trading.
Nowadays, beans are grown throughout the world. About 60 percent of green beans, which are sometimes called string beans, are currently grown in the U.S. Frozen and canned beans are available, but like any other vegetable, they are best when fresh. This is because canning or freezing typically diminishes their nutritional content.
Why You Should Eat More Green Beans
Green beans are rich in antioxidants and flavonoids. They contain flavonoids called catechins, the compound that gives green tea its ability to reduce body fat and prevent obesity. They are also a good source of epicatechins, which can help improve heart health and reduce your risk of cancer and diabetes. Green beans are rich in flavonoids like kaempferol and quercetin, which are not very common in other vegetables.
Green beans can provide you with other beneficial antioxidants, like zeaxanthin, lutein and beta-carotene, which neutralize free radicals in the body to help you stay healthy and youthful. They are a good source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps fight the flu and common cold, as well. The carotene zeaxanthin helps maintain eye health and prevent macular degeneration.
The vegetable is a good source of vitamin A, a micronutrient that should be ideally sourced from natural foods. They are rich in folate, another micronutrient that works with vitamin B12 to maintain optimum DNA production and cell division. The folate in green beans is also helpful in preventing neural defects before conception and during pregnancy. Meanwhile, pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and thiamin (vitamin B1) assist in the conversion of food to energy.
Green beans contain calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and manganese, which are important for a healthy metabolism. This means they aren’t just rich in antioxidants and vitamins, but are a good source of essential minerals as well.
The Best Way to Cook Green Beans
Remember that cooking green beans for prolonged periods can cause a significant loss of nutrients. To maximize their nutrient content, steam the beans within 3 to 5 minutes, or until they turn the most vibrant shade of green. Remember to cover the pan or pot whenever possible because some of green beans’ nutrients are sensitive to light.
Green beans can provide your body with antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamins and minerals. Aside from being a great source of micronutrients, they are also delicious especially when cooked tender-crisp. So what are you waiting for? Try using green beans in your recipes today!