A ubiquitous vegetable that features prominently in various cuisines ranging from Indian and Thai to European, American, Australian, as well as staple meals of salad, soup, dal, curry, sambar is French Beans. Obtained from the Phaseolus vulgaris plant which belongs to the botanical family of legumes – Fabaceae, french beans, also called haricot verts, green beans, common beans, string beans, snap beans are in fact the unripe young fruit of this herbaceous annual crop. Besides being a fresh green veggie into the regular diet, French beans also encompass a plethora of essential nutrients, which offer remarkable health benefits and effectively prevent a host of diseases from diabetes and heart disease to cancer.
The French Beans Plant:
Beans are known to have originated as early as 800 years ago in Mesoamerica. The Phaseolus vulgaris plant has been cultivated for hundreds of years in the nations of Mexico, Peru. European settlers subsequently introduced them to many other countries like the U.K. USA, India, Thailand, Australia and this lead to the growth of many different varieties of beans. French beans are one popular variety with edible pods and as many as 150 varieties are presently harvested across the globe.
The Phaseolus vulgaris plant thrives in warm, moist soils in tropical and temperate regions, being native to Mexico and Peru, but grown worldwide in many other countries. This annual herbaceous plant grows up to 18 inches in height, with broad, green leaves, white flowers and long, green fruits. These unripe fruits are harvested after gauging their succulent taste and consumed before the white seeds in them can mature fully. French beans or green beans have a green outer skin, with a slightly fleshy interior with tiny white seeds, with or without strings on the outside depending on the local variety. They have a crispy texture and a subtly sweet taste which makes them a wonderful addition to a host of dishes like salads, soups, curries, dals and casseroles.
French Beans Nutrition:
Low on calories and with negligible fats, ample dietary fibres, French beans are a blessing for weight loss and can be eaten in moderate portions daily to efficiently shed extra kilos and avert obesity. They contain profuse amounts of vitamin K, besides calcium, magnesium, phosphorous which supply strong bones, fortified joints and lower the risk of fractures, arthritis, osteoporosis. These long green vegetables are also packed with crucial minerals of iron, zinc, potassium, copper, for improved blood circulation, enhanced heart health and antioxidant potential to avert chronic diseases of diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, dementia etc.
The Nutritional Value Per 100 g serving of raw green beans or raw french beans, as mentioned by the United States Department Of Agriculture (USDA) Food Central Database, is as follows:
Energy 31 kcal
Carbohydrates 6.97 g
Dietary fibre 2.7 g
Fat 0.22 g
Protein 1.83 g
Vitamin A 35 μg
Thiamine (Vitamin B1) 0.082 mg
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) 0.104 mg
Niacin (Vitamin B3) 0.734 mg
Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) 0.225 mg
Vitamin B6 0.141 mg
Folate (Vitamin B9) 33 μg
Vitamin C 12.2 mg
Vitamin K 14.4 μg
Calcium 37 mg
Iron 1.03 mg
Magnesium 25 mg
Manganese 0.216 mg
Phosphorus 38 mg
Potassium 211 mg
Zinc 0.24 mg
Copper 0.13 mg
Moreover, French Beans house a treasure trove of phytonutrients that display tremendous antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-cancer and anti-ageing traits to boost overall wellness. The myriad bioactive compounds in French beans include flavonoids, polyphenols, catechin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, quercetin, kaempferol and myricetin. These verdant vegetables also possess ample proteins with a spectrum of essential amino acids - tryptophan, methionine, phenylalanine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, threonine and valine, thereby making them an excellent plant-based source of proteins to incorporate in the daily diet.
French Beans Health Benefits:
Accelerates Weight Loss
French beans, being low on calories and high in essential nutrients, can be taken regularly by those people who are strictly following a diet regime to lose weight, especially in the case of those with diabetes. These nutritious veggies also provide dietary fibres that can be processed easily in the stomach, keeping one feeling full for longer, reducing cravings and assisting in burning fat at a quicker pace.
Augments Heart Functions
Having negligible cholesterol content, French beans can be safely consumed in the diet regularly for promoting heart health. The boiled vegetable can be effortlessly added to many standard homemade Indian dishes, as it improves the circulation of blood to and from the heart, ensuring optimal functioning of cardiac muscles.
Detoxifies The Kidneys
French beans stimulate the normal elimination of body wastes via the excretory system in the body. It boosts the secretion of fluids within the kidneys, promptly getting rid of accumulated toxins and at the same time, guaranteeing proper hydration of the internal organs in the body. Furthermore, they support the routine tasks of kidneys and bladder.
Enhances Digestive System
French beans have a significant fibre content, which helps to prevent instances of constipation, bloating and cramping of the stomach, upon ingestion of a heavy meal. Moreover, its laxative nature regulates bowel movements, thereby easing any discomfort experienced in the gut.
Strengthens Respiratory Processes
French beans have an intrinsic expectorant quality, which implies that they can readily loosen any excess phlegm or mucus secretions and remove them from the respiratory tract. This immensely benefits lung function and also prevents any allergies and breathing difficulties.
Complements Ketogenic Diet
Non-starchy vegetables are a constant addition to all keto diets. In this regard, french beans, being naturally low in carbohydrates and sugars, can be an ideal component of a keto diet, which focuses on lowering calorie intake by cutting down on carbs. A simple quick-fix recipe of boiling cut french beans and seasoning with salt and pepper can be incorporated on a regular basis for lunch in the ketogenic diet.
Enriches Skin Texture
French beans have innate content of vital vitamins – vitamin C, A, as well as minerals – zinc, copper, which hold strong antioxidant properties. Regular intake of cooked french beans nourishes the skin cells and improves blood flow to the dermal tissues, which pacifies the aggravated and dried up regions of the skin, leaving it soft, clear and completely moisturized and hydrated.
The phytonutrients or plant compounds in french beans have an inherent temperature reducing potential. French beans in the diet help a person suffering from high fever, provides immediate relief, reducing body temperature and symptoms of fatigue. Moreover, since normal metabolism is affected during fevers, french beans supply potassium, in order to help maintain ideal electrolyte balance.
Remedies Heart Ailments
French beans are considered as one of the best remedies for cardiac ailments such as palpitations, irregular heartbeats, chest pain, high blood pressure and coronary heart disease, owing to their immense potassium content. French beans in the routine diet help those suffering from heart problems, to promote blood circulation and ameliorate the difficulties in performing normal day to day activities.
Promotes Hair Growth
French beans are chock-full of nutrients like vitamin B5, vitamin C, which help tackle instances of severe hair fall, invigorate the blood circulation and nerve function in the scalp, promoting rapid hair growth. Alopecia is characterized by prominent bald spots and excessive hair loss, and the high carotene content in french beans counters these factors, to reduce constant hair fall and enhance the strength and smoothness of hair.
Strengthens Bones And Joints
Being an effective anti-inflammatory, the antioxidants in french beans actually reduce bone and muscle pain and heals joint disorders such as arthritis, osteoporosis, gout and fractures. In addition, it is packed with the three essential bone-fortifying minerals namely calcium, magnesium and phosphorous, as well as vitamin K, which in turn increases bone mass and helps regain flexible movement in muscles and joints.
Being a powerhouse of vitamin C and a host of flavonoids and carotenes, french beans is a potent agent to boost immune system function in situations of illnesses. Since the function of organs is below the optimum during disease, consuming this green vegetable instils vitamin C to blood cells, which is subsequently transported to other organs to recover their peak functioning levels. It also helps to recuperate from tiredness.
The thyroid hormone levels tend to fluctuate and rise above the normal range in some people, causing hyperthyroidism. French beans have a profuse in iodine content, which is vital to reduce elevated thyroid hormone levels, as well as zinc, which plays a central role in facilitating enzyme function for optimizing thyroid concentrations.
French Beans Recipes:
Thanks to their widespread growth in many countries around the world, French beans are a staple in many kitchens and households, being added to staple dishes for their subtly sweet flavour as well as the storehouse of nutrition and good health they offer.
Try these appetizing recipes – a simple, delicious Aloo Beans Sabzi which is a traditional Indian side dish for rice and roti prepared often in many homes and a classic Green Bean Casserole – which is an American fan-favourite meal prepared as a customary lip-smacking side dish during Thanksgiving dinner.
Aloo Beans Sabzi
2 cups green beans/French beans, cut into lengthy pieces
2 big Potatoes, chopped into medium pieces
2 tbsp mustard oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
Salt, to taste
½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp lemon juice
Heat the oil in a pan on medium heat.
Once hot, add mustard seeds and let them pop.
Then add cumin seeds and sauté for 1 minute.
Now add chopped beans and potatoes along with salt and spice powders except garam masala.
Mix well and cover it with the lid.
Cook the vegetables covered until they become soft and tender.
Stir the mixture every now and then and cook for 10 – 12 minutes.
Once the vegetables are soft and thoroughly cooked, add garam masala powder and mix well.
Finally, add some lemon juice and combine it well so all the flavours are absorbed.
French beans consist of copious quantities of vitamin A to enhance eyesight, prevent vision-related disorders like age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma. Potatoes supply carbs, calories for instant energy and are also rich in proteins to build strong muscles. Lemon juice is a natural detoxifying agent, which eliminates toxins, detrimental wastes from the body and cleanses the kidneys and liver.
Green Bean Casserole
3 cups French beans i.e. green beans, boiled
1 cup of cream of mushroom soup, prepared by completely cooking mushrooms in water, wheat flour, salt, pepper and a bit of garlic
1 cup fried onions, prepared by finely slicing onions very thin and deep-frying them
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 360 degrees Fahrenheit or 180 degrees Celcius.
Cook the French beans and mushroom soup in a large bowl for 5 - 7 minutes on medium flame.
Then lower the flame and add the shredded cheddar cheese and cook for another 2 – 3 minutes.
Now carefully pour the French beans mixture into a casserole dish.
Top it off with fried onions and some more cheese.
Bake in the preheated oven at 360 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 – 20 minutes until the onions become golden brown and the cheese layer on top melts a bit.
Serve this mouth-watering flavourful green bean casserole along with some pasta, soup or fried rice for a hearty meal at lunch.
French beans or green beans are a powerhouse of dietary fibres and are also low on fats, calories, which helps in accelerating weight loss and maintaining a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index). Onions supply B vitamins which bolster metabolism and are also rich in quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that prevents cancer. Cheddar cheese is laden with proteins, which aid in the growth, development of body tissues and also ensure the healthy functioning of all organs.
French Beans Side Effects:
French Beans are bestowed with umpteen valuable nutrients that confer spectacular health benefits and aid in treating numerous maladies. In general, they do not trigger any harmful side effects when eaten in moderation as part of the regular diet.
French Beans or green beans contain high amounts of vitamin K, which is involved in the blood clotting process in the body and interferes with the action of prescription blood-thinning medications. Thus, people taking these medicines must not consume very large portions of French beans to avert grave complications of abnormal excessive blood clots.
Some individuals may be allergic to French beans and upon eating them, showcase symptoms of swelling in the face, incessant itching in the body, breathing distress, nausea, vomiting, stomach aches and even asthma, wheezing. Hence, persons with a food allergy to French beans must avoid ingesting them to steer clear of damaging consequences to health.
Although French beans offer massive amounts of useful antioxidants, some plant-based elements in them such as lectins, phytates are termed “antinutrients”, since they attach to vitamins, minerals in the system and thereby lower the bio-absorption of the essential nutrients. Therefore, prior to consuming French beans, the raw beans must be soaked in water and cooked properly which removes most of these antinutrients. In this manner, cooked, boiled or sauteed French beans can be eaten as part of the routine diet without hampering the assimilation of key nutrients by the cells and tissues within the body.
Whether you enjoy them simply boiled with some salt, pepper sprinkles, add them to salads and soups, sauté them with flavourful herbs, fry them with vegetables or bake them in a casserole, French beans are not only a tasty delight but also a superb source of essential nutrients which deliver fantastic health benefits.
From lowering the risk of cancer to promoting weight loss and rejuvenating skin texture, these long, thin green veggies are a blessing for all-round health. Keep in mind to consume them in measured portions as part of the regular diet and cook them well before eating, refraining from consuming them raw to derive their maximum nutritional benefits. Add French beans to your daily diet in the form of salads, soups, stir-fried veggies, dals or curries, to reap their astounding wellness incentives and augment overall health.