As summer approaches and we’re all looking for ways to trim down our waistlines, healthy eating is back on the table… so to speak. Chefs, bloggers and heath professionals alike will all be on the hunt for this year’s miracle health boosting weight-loss food, but the answer may be closer to home than you’d expect. Forget chia seeds and quinoa, if you want to stay healthy in 2017, the answer may be in the humble green bean!
Packed full of protein and fibre, these familiar little legumes are a readily available health food that won’t cost an arm and a leg. In fact, the health benefits of green beans range far further than you would ever imagine. And with French beans and broad beans currently in season, there’s never been a better time to… eat your greens!
1. They’re good for your eyes
Even though green beans are, well, green, they contain pigments that you’ll find in many other colourful vegetables such as peppers and tomatoes, called carotenoids. Three to be exact: beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. As well as being antioxidants, they are also a source of Vitamin A, which help boost your night-vision and help to prevent the blue light emitted by high-intensity light from harming your eyes.
2. They’ll protect your heart
Green beans contain high levels of flavonoids, another type of antioxidant commonly found in fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, and controlled testing found that subjects with high levels of them experienced anti-thrombotic results, reducing the chances of blood clots in veins and arteries. In other words, maintaining a diet with plenty of green beans could reduce your risk of heart attacks, cardiovascular disease and strokes.
3. They’ll beef up your bones
While everyone knows that calcium is a vital part of your body’s bone making process, it isn’t so widely known that Vitamin K is just as important. This is because Vitamin K helps your body to take in calcium by producing proteins. As well as that, it also helps to regulate your bone metabolism, preventing the loss of vital minerals. One cup of boiled french beans provides an average of 20mg of Vitamin K, another example of the many health benefits of green beans.
4. They’re good for your digestion
Green beans are a high fibre food, which has a positive impact on your digestive system. Whether you have a digestive disorder or not, consuming high-fibre foods on a regular basis is a good way to keep your system running healthily. They can help in the treatment of haemorrhoids, constipation, and diverticulosis. Some research suggests they can reduce your risk of developing colon cancer too.
5. They’re a source of Vitamin C
Another antioxidant found in abundance in green beans is vitamin C. As an antioxidant, it neutralises free radicals, protecting healthy cells from damage, as well as fats, proteins, carbohydrates and DNA. But the health benefits of Vitamin C don’t stop there. It also helps your body to produce collagen which among other things is the connective tissue around your bones and tendons and inside your organs and skin.
6. They’re packed full of vital minerals
Broad beans, in particular, are rich in zinc, iron and folate. Zinc is needed for your body’s enzymes, which in turn is important for growth and development. Iron is needed to carry oxygen around the body and protects white blood cells. Folate is crucial to the biochemical processes that create genetic material, which is why it is so important to supplement or consume it if you are pregnant. All three are essential to your health, and yet another example of the great health benefits of green beans.
Eating in season
Choosing to eat your fruit and vegetables when they’re in season isn’t just healthy for you, it’s healthy for the environment too. Broad beans and French beans are the two strains of green beans currently in season, and should be plentiful in the supermarket, as well as especially tasty.