Thanksgiving Food: Green Beans

We have a delicious green bean and sesame salad recipe for your family gatherings this year! It uses green beans and if you haven’t seen it yet, you can find it right here. They may not be a food you think about very often, but that’s the perfect reason to learn more about them!

The Stringy Truth

Green beans, as well as kidney beans, navy beans, and black beans, are known as Phaseolus vulgaris. If you really aren’t interested in learning that, or even trying to pronounce it for that matter, you can refer to them as “common beans.” This more easily pronounced name was applied due to the previously mentioned beans coming from an ancient common ancestor bean originating out of Peru. Green beans are normally a deep emerald green that come to a point at either end. Unlike other beans, they are picked while still young and fresh on the vine.

Healthy Bites

Now, green beans have a string of health benefits. See what I did there? Anyway, green beans are a vegetable that has been vastly studied. It turns out, green beans are incredibly high in flavonoids. What do flavonoids do?

  • Flavonoids demonstrate high antioxidant activity.
  • Flavonoids have shown anti-mutagenic activity.
  • Flavonoids act as vasodilators.

To better explain, there is a subclass of flavonoids known as “flavanols,” which is heavily found in green beans. Flavanols have been reported to have a greater antioxidative effect than either Vitamin C or Vitamin E. That’s a big deal. To top it off, they also contain several carotenoids, furthering their antioxidative capacities.

The Breakdown

Green beans are very low on the glycemic index. One cup (or around 125 grams) of green beans amounts to around 30 to 40 calories. This breaks down to:

  • 8 -10 grams of carbohydrates (3-4 grams of fiber)
  • 2-3 grams of protein
  • 0-0.2 grams of fat

Additionally, green beans contain Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Potassium, and Manganese. Clearly, green beans pack a nutritional punch.

More Healthy Bites!

The Vitamin A in green beans in very important. Earlier, it was mentioned that green beans contain carotenoids. Some of the carotenoids in this food are a form of Vitamin A. Carotenoids, including those of the Vitamin A form, have been suggested to have cancer preventative effects.

To gain the most out of your green beans, buy them fresh! To prepare them, steam or boil them. If you want keep frozen green beans, boil them first. Research suggests a small loss of nutrients from boiling, but boiling will preserve the vitamins and minerals longer than simply freezing fresh ones.

The Genetic Factors

Now, understanding your genetics can play a key role in knowing if and how you would benefit from the consumption of green beans. This becomes very relevant when we look at certain genes. To the chart!

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References

Green Beans. (n.d.). Retrieved November 20, 2016, from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=134

Khachik, F., Goli, M. B., Beecher, G. R., Holden, J., Lusby, W. R., Tenorio, M. D., & Barrera, M. R. (1992). Effect of food preparation on qualitative and quantitative distribution of major carotenoid constituents of tomatoes and several green vegetables. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 40(3), 390-398.

Linnewiel-Hermoni, K., Khanin, M., Danilenko, M., Zango, G., Amosi, Y., Levy, J., & Sharoni, Y. (2015). The anti-cancer effects of carotenoids and other phytonutrients resides in their combined activity. Archives of biochemistry and biophysics, 572, 28-35.

Oruna-Concha, M. J., Gonzalez-Castro, M. J., Lopez-Hernandez, J., & Simal-Lozano, J. (1998). Monitoring of the vitamin C content of frozen green beans and Padrón peppers by HPLC. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 76(3), 477-480.

Plumb, G.W., Price, K.R., & Williamson, G. (1999). Antioxidant properties of flavonol glycosides from green beans, Redox Report, 4(3), 123-127.

Price, K. R., Colquhoun, I. J., Barnes, K. A., & Rhodes, M. J. C. (1998). Composition and content of flavonol glycosides in green beans and their fate during processing. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 46(12), 4898-4903.

Rice-evans, C. A., Miller, N. J., Bolwell, P. G., Bramley, P. M., & Pridham, J. B. (1995). The relative antioxidant activities of plant-derived polyphenolic flavonoids. Free radical research, 22(4), 375-383.

Written by Tyler Breedlove

Thursday, November 24, 2016