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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Health Food >>  Green Beans

Green Beans Health Benefits

Green beans, also known as French beans, string beans or snap beans, are the unripe fruits of beans. Green beans are rich in fiber and low in calories. They also contain protein, carbohydrates and vitamins. Green beans were used to treat diabetes since ancient times and are today available fresh, frozen and canned. The nutritional content of all these forms of green beans is almost the same.
The best way to cook green beans is to add them to stir fries and curries. Steaming is the healthiest way to cook green beans.

Information & Facts:

Here are some interesting facts about green beans:

  • Green beans are rich in various nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, iron, potassium, folate, calcium, magnesium and thiamin.
  • You can store green beans for many days in the refrigerator since they do not lose their freshness. It is best to store them in plastic bags to prevent loss of moisture.
  • It is advisable to wash green beans just before using. Wash them under running water. It is important to wash them thoroughly to get rid of sand and other debris.
  • Green beans should be trimmed and cut just before cooking since they may lose their nutritional quality if cut ahead of time. You can either snap off both ends or cut them off with a knife.
  • Today most varieties of green beans are without strings and hence it is not necessary to remove the strings.
  • You can get five to six servings out of one pound of fresh green beans.

The various health benefits of green beans can be attributed to their rich store of nutrients. Some of the important nutrients found in green beans and their beneficial uses are as follows:

  • Vitamin K – This vitamin enables the body to heal faster. Vitamin K stimulates the process of blood coagulation whenever there is a wound or injury and prevents excess loss of blood. For this reason individuals who need to undergo surgery are given vitamin K supplements before the procedure. The vitamin also enhances the absorption of calcium in the body and this helps to boost bone strength and density. Those at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis should consume adequate amounts of green beans so that they can get a healthy supply of vitamin K.
  • Vitamin C – This is another important vitamin found in green beans. It assists in the healing of wounds and may also play a role in cancer prevention. Due to its antioxidant properties, vitamin C helps to protect the DNA from damage and abnormalities. It is a good idea to include green beans in the diet in order to reduce the risk of various diseases.
  • Vitamin A – Green beans are loaded with vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant which helps to protect against high cholesterol, heart disease and cancer. Vitamin A also delays the signs of premature ageing such as wrinkles, dull skin, fine lines, dark spots and dry skin.
  • Manganese – There are also substantial amounts of manganese found in green beans. Manganese helps to alleviate the symptoms of osteoporosis and also assists in the absorption of other nutrients in the body.
  • Fiber – Green beans are packed with dietary fiber which is beneficial for those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. Fiber adds bulk to the stools and enables easy passage during bowel movements. Green beans are good for those with high cholesterol since fiber helps to lower the levels of bad cholesterol in the body. People with diabetes may also include green beans in their diet since it helps to regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Silicon – Green beans are also known to have healthy amounts of silicon, a mineral which supports health of the connective tissues and bones.
The health benefits of canned green beans are similar to those of fresh green beans. A cup of canned green beans contains about 60 calories. Canned green beans contain less cholesterol and are good sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, copper, iron and magnesium. They must be heated before serving and can be added to various dishes such as salads and soups. You can also add olive oil and garlic to canned green beans and roast them in the oven.

Some additional health benefits of green beans include the following;
  • Green beans are beneficial for menstruating women and those who may be at a risk of iron deficiency.
  • Green beans are high in fiber and low in fat and hence an ideal food for those on weight loss diets. Adding green beans to the diet ensures a healthy supply of important nutrients without any extra calories. Green beans can be added to soups and salads along with other nutritious vegetables.
  • Green beans help in healthy development of the baby’s heart during pregnancy. They also help to protect the baby from conditions such as asthma later on in life.
  •  Vegetables such as green beans help to prevent constipation and symptoms of ibs because of their fiber content.
  • Individuals with diabetes or those who at a risk of developing diabetes will benefit from eating green beans since they help to control the glucose levels of the blood.
  • Green beans contain flavonoids and carotenoids which have strong anti-inflammatory properties and which help in alleviating conditions like gout.
  • Green beans are an ideal food during pregnancy and breastfeeding due to their high iron content.
  • Green bean pods have moderate diuretic effects and thus stimulate urine flow and help in the elimination of toxins from the body.
  • Some studies have shown that dusting powdered green beans over eczema affected areas helps to relieve itching and dryness.
  • One of the most important health benefits of green beans is improved cardiovascular health. Green beans are full of antioxidants and hence are a perfect heart healthy food. Antioxidants protect the heart from oxidative damage and control the level of fat in the blood. Fresh, young beans are especially beneficial for the heart. The fiber in green beans helps to reduce cholesterol levels. They also contain magnesium and potassium which help to balance blood pressure. Green beans contain alpha-linolenic acid, a kind of omega 3 fatty acids which is good for health as it protects against coronary heart disease. A diet rich in alpha-linolenic acid helps to reduce the risk of heart attack and lowers the levels of triglycerides and cholesterol. It is best to cook green beans whole by steaming them for a few minutes. Overcooking the beans may reduce the levels of vitamin C.

Side Effects Of Green Beans

Green beans are not known to trigger any adverse effects on health.  However, green beans contain oxalates which are substances found naturally in plants, animals and humans. When these oxalates accumulate in the body fluids, they may crystallize and lead to health complications. Hence people with kidney and gall bladder disorders may have to avoid consuming green beans. Oxalates may also hamper the absorption of calcium in the body. This, however, should not be a problem if your digestive system is healthy and you chew your food properly.
Submitted on January 16, 2014