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Fresh is best: Why you should eat your beans

“Eat your beans, Johnny.” It’s a refrain I can hear clearly in my memory. I can’t be 100 percent certain why. I didn’t know any Johnnys growing up so it must have been said a lot on television. I watched a lot of television. Whatever the reason, it’s a message that can help me keep my heart in good condition. Of course it would have more of an impact if I heard: “Eat your beans, Cathy.”

Let’s hope as you do your grocery shopping this week they call out to you. Local farmers have lots of green beans so it’s the Fresh is Best fresh produce focus this week.

Green Beans

Scientific name: Phaseolus vulgarisa

Related to: shell beans like pinto, kidney and black beans, in fact they are all referred to as common beans.

Grown: in Bermuda

Vitamin content: An excellent source of vitamins K and C. A very good source of vitamins A and B12 (folate), a good source of B2 (riboflavin), B1 (thiamin) and B3 (niacin).

Mineral content: An excellent source of manganese. A very good source of potassium and iron. A good source of magnesium, copper and phosphorus.

Dietary Fiber: A very good source of dietary fibre with about 4.00 grams in one cup of the boiled vegetable.

Omega 3 fatty acids: A good source with about 111 mg in one cup of the boiled vegetable.

Omega 6 fatty acids: About 70 mg in one cup of the cooked vegetable.

Protein: A very good source of the amino acid tryptophan. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.

Good for: Green beans are actually high in beta-carotene, that phytonutrient that gives carrots their characteristic bright orange colour. Why then are green beans not orange? It’s because they are also laden with another phytonutrient chlorophyll. In fact this vegetable’s main nutritive worth is in the wide variety of antioxidant phytonutrients it contains. Those antioxidants are in the many carotenoids and flavonoids that have been proved in studies, to have health-supportive properties.

The high antioxidant value of green beans makes them useful in the diet for achieving good heart health. Improvements in the levels of blood fats and better protection of these fats from oxygen damage, has been shown in research on rats and mice and is likely to have a similar beneficial effect in humans.

These studies also indicate that the actual pod of the green bean is more responsible for the benefit to heart health, than the immature beans found inside it.

Additionally the carotenoids and flavonoids found in green beans also protect against inflammation. This makes the vegetable particularly helpful in protecting against type-2 diabetes, which has a basic component of chronic, unwanted inflammation.

And the fibre content of the pod also makes it beneficial in protecting against high blood sugar levels.

Food scientists also surmise that the omega-3 fatty acid content of green beans makes it good for the heart. While most people do not look to green beans for omega-3s, they are good low-calorie source. You get one milligram of alpha-linoleic acid (an omega-3 acid), for every four calories of green beans that you eat. In comparison to the well known concentrated source walnuts, which gives you 1.4 milligrammes from every four calories that you eat. That’s not much more.

High in silicon and vitamin K and a good source of calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, there’s little doubt that green beans will help strengthen, and grow bone. All these nutrients are important in bone health and silicon, not found in many foods, is of a particular type in green beans that is more easily absorbed by the blood.

XL?s Karina Furbert prepares to cook green beans at Meals on Wheels in this file picture

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Published September 27, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated September 27, 2011 at 9:06 am)

Fresh is best: Why you should eat your beans

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