Green beans: properties, benefits and best uses in the kitchen

Green beans: properties, benefits and best uses in the kitchen

Green beans, but also tegoline, mangiatutto beans or croissants. They are called with many nicknames dictated by regional popular traditions, but they are always them: the tender legumes, of which the whole pod is eaten, a real panacea for the body. If you lead a hectic life, you’ll be pleased to know that these legumes are precious allies against stress and anxiety. But not only.

Easy to prepare, they are used for many appetizing and healthy recipes. You can taste green beans boiled, stewed, all’uccelletto, and in many other ways. They are low in calories, even if they are the fruit of the same plant that gives rise to beans. Due to their nutritional characteristics, despite being legumes, they can be considered vegetables to all intents and purposes, precious for those who love healthy eating and aim for the well-being of their body. A true “must” of the Mediterranean diet.

What are green beans?

Botanically, green beans are the immature pod of the bean plant. The scientific name for both products is therefore the same, Phaseolus vulgaris L., and both belong, being one the antecedent stage of the other, to the Leguminosae family, also called Fabaceae or Papilionaceae.

It is a fast growing annual plant with very branched and superficial roots. The stem varies considerably in height depending on the variety. The first leaves are simple, the others trifoliate with heart-shaped leaflets. The flowers are gathered in clusters of 4 to 10 and are generally white in colour.

The fruit is a pendulous legume called a pod that varies in shape, color and size. The green bean pod is characterized by an important anatomical aspect that differentiates it from other bean pods, namely the absence of fibrous tissue.

In the case of green beans, the pods are stringless, i.e. without the fibrous cord along the welding lines, and without parchment (which is the coating or leathery and fibrous tissue of the pod valves), but above all they are tender and fleshy at long. These bean pods are also called pan beans or croissant beans and must be harvested before the seeds develop inside them.

Green beans: are they legumes?

From a “botanical” point of view, the green bean is a legume, but its nutritional characteristics are closer to those of vegetables. In fact, compared to legumes such as peas, beans, broad beans, chickpeas, etc., the whole pod of green beans is eaten and not just the seeds.

Furthermore, another difference concerns the nutritional profile and calories, since green beans have a rather limited protein content and are low in fat and carbohydrates, therefore the caloric intake is also modest.

Green beans: nutritional properties

Green beans are a good and light legume, rich in micronutrients useful for health, but above all ideal if you follow a low-calorie diet to lose weight.

The presence of fibers, in fact, helps to increase the sense of satiety and reduce appetite. The direct consequence is to introduce fewer calories to lose weight in health, but also to counteract intestinal disorders such as constipation.

Green beans have nutritional properties halfway between vegetables and legumes. In fact, unlike other legumes, they contain a smaller quantity of proteins and much more water (about 95%). They are rich in fiber, mineral salts, such as potassium, and vitamins.

They contain few carbohydrates, which, associated with the few proteins (2.1 g/100), make green beans a low-calorie food and perfect for a diet. The calories of green beans, in fact, are just 18 Kcal per pound.

Green beans: nutritional values ​​per 100 g

MINERALSGreen bean% are the RDARDA value
Ferro (mg)0,96%14 mg
Calcium (mg)354%800mg
Sodium (mg)21%240 mg
Potassium (mg)28014%2000 mg
Phosphorus (mg)487%700 mg
Zinco (mg)0,22%10 mg
Vitamin B1, Thiamine, mg0,076%1,1 mg
Vitamin B2, Riboflavin, mg0,1511%1,4 mg
Vitamin C, mg1620%80 mg
Niacin, mg0,85%16 mg
Vitamin B6, mg0,054%1,4 mg
Total folate, µg8040%200 µg
(Vit.A) ß-carotene eq., µg782%4800 µg
Vitamin E (ATE), mg1, 1610%12 mg
Vitamin K, μg2027%75 µg

Source: Food Composition Database for Epidemiological Studies in America and CREA Research Center for Food and Nutrition

Green beans: chemical composition per 100 g

Water (g)90,5
Protein (g)2,1
Cholesterol (mg)0
Available carbohydrates (g)2,4
Amido (g)0
Soluble sugars (g)2,4
Total Fiber (g)2,9
Soluble Fiber (g)0,71
Insoluble fiber (g)2,14
Energy (kcal)18
Energy (kJ)75

Source: Food Composition Database for Epidemiological Studies in America and CREA Research Center for Food and Nutrition

Comparison of green beans and beans

Is it possible to consider bean and green bean as a single product? Do they have the same properties and the same benefits? In reality, already from an initial nutritional analysis, it is noted that the two products are not perfectly interchangeable within a diet. Let’s see why.

From a nutritional point of view, green beans are more similar to the classic vegetables that we commonly find on our tables. They have far fewer calories than the bean, less protein and fewer carbohydrates, and are higher in water. With legumes, however, they share the high intake of fiber and the high satiating power. Fats and cholesterol are totally absent and carbohydrates are almost incalculable: 100 grams of green beans bring only 2.4 grams of carbohydrates.

These properties, added to the only 18 kcal per 100 grams of product, make green beans an excellent food for weight loss and control or, given the almost total absence of sugars and the presence of resistant starch, for the diet of diabetics .

The mineral content is very similar to that of beans, in particular that of calcium and magnesium, but they are much less rich in iron and potassium.

What green beans are good for: benefits

Beans are good and useful foods for our health, as they bring many benefits to the body. Low in calories, they are also ideal on a diet and a panacea for well-being thanks to the presence of antioxidants such as flavonoids, lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene.

Here then are the main benefits of green beans.

Fibers for the well-being of the stomach and intestines

The high fiber content makes green beans a food that promotes intestinal transit, improving the conditions of prolonged constipation and regulating the rhythms of intestinal emptying. It would also seem that green beans are able to relieve stomach bloating, excessive appetite and frequent urination. Some studies have shown a positive correlation between increased fiber intake and a reduced risk for colon cancer.

Allies of the immune system

Green beans are rich in vitamins B, C and E. The high vitamin C content, far more than in beans, makes them a food capable of fighting infections and their consumption has beneficial effects on strengthening our immune system. Vitamin B makes them protective for our spleen and ensures good functioning of the kidneys.

The iron content, although lower than that of beans, is sufficient to guarantee powerful support for the production of new blood cells.

Other potentials attributed to green beans concern the prevention and management of diabetes and the maintenance of healthy bones and eyesight.

Folic acid and pregnancy

Green beans also help reduce the risk of malformations of the fetus during pregnancy thanks to the presence of folic acid. The intake of folic acid provided by green beans is lower than that of beans, but they still represent an excellent food source.

Harvard Medical School published an article titled “Follow The Fertility Diet?” which emphasizes the consumption of healthy foods such as green beans and pumpkins to increase fertility thanks to the iron content. For women of childbearing age, consuming more iron from plant sources such as spinach, beans, squash and green beans would increase the chance of conception, according to Harvard Medical School.

Prevention of cardiovascular diseases

Like beans, green beans are also excellent allies in the prevention and reduction of the risk of heart disease thanks to their high levels of flavonoids. These are other antioxidant compounds with anti-inflammatory properties. The intake of high levels of flavonoids has given antithrombotic results in habitual consumers, preventing the formation of blood clots in the arteries and veins.

Cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and strokes are commonly caused by thrombotic activity: this means that an adequate amount of green beans in the diet can help prevent some of these conditions. Among the flavonoids present in green beans we find quercetin, kaempferol, catechin and epicatechin. Recent studies show that catechins reduce the severity of strokes.

Other antioxidant compounds found in green beans are vitamin A, beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. In comparison with beans, they also show a similar profile of polyphenols, which suggests, in the absence of sufficient scientific studies on this aspect, that the protective and medical effects are also similar. Polyphenols have various beneficial effects on our health: from the prevention of cardiovascular diseases to the reduction of the incidence of obesity and diabetes mellitus.

They improve sleep and fight depression

Taking the right amount of folate helps us fight depression: an adequate consumption can in fact prevent an excess of homocysteine. A too high value of homocysteine ​​in the blood could interfere with the production of the “welfare hormones” (serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline) which regulate…