There’s no question about it: green beans have numerous health benefits. They contain healthy phytochemicals, B vitamins and potassium, which is important for cell growth. Magnesium is also an important component. Can the popular vegetable also be eaten raw?
Raw vegetables are known to contain the most vitamins and minerals. In some cases, however, this also entails risks. Not every raw vegetable is suitable for consumption. For example, green beans, as the consumer center Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania explains in a recent release.
Green beans contain a mix of healthy nutrients such as phytochemicals, potassium, calcium, magnesium and B vitamins and thus have various health benefits.
The author Savita Chaurasia from Bellarmine University (USA) reports in the English-language textbook “Nutritional Composition and Antioxidant Properties of Fruits and Vegetables” that these vegetables can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes, among other things.
It can also improve cholesterol levels, as explained in a statement from the American Heart Association (AHA).
But green beans can be poisonous if cooked incorrectly.
Inquiries at Poison Control Centers
According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), the poison information centers received a striking number of inquiries about complaints after eating green beans in 2020.
As the Mecklenburg-Western Pomeranian consumer advice center writes, the raw bean pods and seeds contain phasin, which is a toxic protein compound. This compound protects the plant from predators.
After consuming raw beans, red blood cells stick together and thus impede the transport of oxygen in the blood. In addition, phasin damages the epithelial cells in the intestine. This leads to disturbances in nutrient absorption.
The typical symptoms such as nausea, abdominal pain and vomiting appear about two to three hours after consumption.
These can be accompanied by bloody diarrhea, fever, chills and sweating.
In rare cases, severe seizures or shock can also occur. In some cases, the poisoning can be fatal.
According to the BfR, however, findings on the critical dose cannot be specifically defined. The sensitivity to phasin and the different levels in the beans, depending on the variety, play a role here. Due to their low body weight, children are particularly sensitive and should therefore not eat raw beans.
The protein structure of the phasin is destroyed by sufficiently long and strong heating of the beans. At least 15 minutes at over 100 degrees Celsius are recommended. In this case, the cooking water can be reused.
If the beans are only blanched, for example before freezing, the cooking water should not be reused.
When it comes to frozen beans, consumers should pay attention to the manufacturer’s instructions and heat them up sufficiently. Boiling and steaming are not appropriate cooking methods for preparing beans. (ad)