Green beans, also called string beans, are a variety of legume, and the relative of peas, peanuts, lentils and other varieties of dried beans. They are one of only a few varieties of beans that can be eaten fresh. Unlike dried beans, their pods are edible; they have a higher carotenoid content than the dried variety and are more digestible. Green beans are an excellent addition to the diet because they contain a combination of nutrients that are valuable for building and maintaining fitness.
Like other pulses, green beans are low in fat and high in soluble fiber, which is important for a healthy heart. Green beans are also a very good source of Vitamin A, through their concentration of carotenoids including Beta-carotene, which together with their high levels of Vitamin C, protect the immune system and fight damage from harmful free radicals that cause disease, as well as fighting infections.
Each of these nutrients provides valuable health benefits individually, but their powers are multiplied when many are contained in one food. The range found in green beans allows them to work together in building and maintaining fitness, and have benefits when exercising. The vitamin K content, for example, is important for maintaining strong bones and promotes the healing of scrapes and cuts, while Vitamin C maintains the strength of cell walls. The B vitamins work together to keep nerves functioning well and energy levels high.
Green beans are packed with essential minerals; manganese and magnesium contribute towards building and maintaining bone strength; iron is a vital nutrient that many women and vegetarians are deficient in; and zinc, which helps to build strong bones and speeds up recovery from muscular injuries.
Tips for Using Green Beans
- To prepare green beans, wash them thoroughly and trim off both ends.
- For best results, steam the beans in a vegetable steamer or blanch them. To blanch, bring a pan of salted water to the boil, plunge the beans in and cook rapidly for about 8 minutes, until they are tender. Pour the beans into a colander and rinse with cold water, which brings out an intense green color.