Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Green Beans

Green beans, also known as string beans, or snap beans in the northeastern and western United States, are the unripe fruit and protective pods of various cultivars of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris).

They are distinguished from the many differing varieties of beans primarily grown for their dried seeds in that green beans are harvested and consumed with their enclosing pods, typically before the seeds inside have fully matured. This practice is analogous to the harvesting of unripened snow pea pods or sugar snap peas of the pea family of plants. Popular green bean cultivars have been selected especially for the fleshiness, flavor, or sweetness of their pods.

Haricots verts, French for "green beans" (also known as French beans, French green beans, French filet beans, or fine beans (British English)) is a variety of green beans that is longer, thinner, crisper, and more tender than "standard" green beans.It is different from the haricot bean, which is sold as a dried seed.

Culinary use
Green beans are eaten around the world, and are marketed canned, frozen, and fresh. Green beans are often steamed, boiled, stir-fried, or baked in casseroles. A dish with green beans popular throughout the United States, particularly at Thanksgiving, is green bean casserole, which consists of green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and French fried onions.

Some US restaurants serve green beans that are battered and fried, and Japanese restaurants in the US frequently serve green bean tempura. Green beans are also sold dried, and fried with vegetables such as carrots, corn, and peas.

Many but not all bean pods contain a "string", a hard fibrous strand running the length of the pod. This is often removed before cooking, or may be made edible by cutting the pod into short segments. The first "stringless" bean was bred in 1894 by Calvin Keeney, called the "father of the stringless bean", while working in Le Roy, New York.

Green beans are classified into two major groups, "bush" beans and "pole" beans.

Bush beans are short plants, growing to approximately 2 feet (61 cm) in height, without requiring supports. They generally reach maturity and produce all of their fruit in a relatively short period of time, then cease to produce. Gardeners may grow more than one crop of bush beans in a season.

Pole beans have a climbing habit and produce a twisting vine, which must be supported by trellises, cages, or other means.. Runner beans have a similar habit but are a different species of bean.

Over 130 varieties of green bean are known.Varieties specialized for use as green beans, selected for the succulence and flavor of their pods, are the ones usually grown in the home vegetable garden, and many varieties exist. Pod color can be green, purple, red, or streaked. Shapes range from thin "fillet" types to wide "romano" types and more common types in between.

The following varieties are among the most common and widely grown in the US. Closely related varieties are listed on the same line.

Bush types
Bountiful, 50 days (green, heirloom)
Burpee's Stringless Green Pod, 50 days (green, heirloom)
Contender, 50 days (green)
Topcrop, 51 days (green), 1950 AAS winner
Red Swan, 55 days (red)
Blue Lake 274, 58 days (green)
Maxibel, 59 days (green fillet)
Roma II, 59 days (green romano)
Improved Commodore / Bush Kentucky Wonder, 60 days (green), 1945 AAS winner
Dragon's Tongue, 60 days (streaked)
Jade / Jade II, 65 days (green)
Pole types
Blue Lake, 60 days (green)
Fortex, 60 days (green fillet)
Kentucky Blue, 63 days (green), 1991 AAS winner
Old Homestead / Kentucky Wonder, 65 days (green, heirloom)
Rattlesnake, 72 days (streaked, heirloom)
Purple King, 75 days (purple)
Witsa, 70-80 days (green, hairless). Witsa is available in South Africa, uncommon elsewhere.

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 131 kJ (31 kcal)
Carbohydrates 6.97 g
Dietary fiber 2.7 g
Fat 0.22 g
Protein 1.83 g
Vitamin A equiv. (4%) 35 μg
Thiamine (B1) (7%) 0.082 mg
Riboflavin (B2) (9%) 0.104 mg
Niacin (B3) (5%) 0.734 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
(5%) 0.225 mg
Vitamin B6 (11%) 0.141 mg
Folate (B9) (8%) 33 μg
Vitamin C (15%) 12.2 mg
Vitamin K (14%) 14.4 μg
Calcium (4%) 37 mg
Iron (8%) 1.03 mg
Magnesium (7%) 25 mg
Manganese (10%) 0.216 mg
Phosphorus (5%) 38 mg
Potassium (4%) 211 mg
Zinc (3%) 0.24 mg
Other constituents
Fluoride 19 µg

Here are some interesting facts about green beans:
Green beans are rich in various nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, iron, potassium, folate, calcium, magnesium and thiamin.
You can store green beans for many days in the refrigerator since they do not lose their freshness. It is best to store them in plastic bags to prevent loss of moisture.
It is advisable to wash green beans just before using. Wash them under running water. It is important to wash them thoroughly to get rid of sand and other debris.
Green beans should be trimmed and cut just before cooking since they may lose their nutritional quality if cut ahead of time. You can either snap off both ends or cut them off with a knife.
Today most varieties of green beans are without strings and hence it is not necessary to remove the strings.
You can get five to six servings out of one pound of fresh green beans.
The various health benefits of green beans can be attributed to their rich store of nutrients. Some of the important nutrients found in green beans and their beneficial uses are as follows:

Vitamin K – This vitamin enables the body to heal faster. Vitamin K stimulates the process of blood coagulation whenever there is a wound or injury and prevents excess loss of blood. For this reason individuals who need to undergo surgery are given vitamin K supplements before the procedure. The vitamin also enhances the absorption of calcium in the body and this helps to boost bone strength and density. Those at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis should consume adequate amounts of green beans so that they can get a healthy supply of vitamin K.
Vitamin C – This is another important vitamin found in green beans. It assists in the healing of wounds and may also play a role in cancer prevention. Due to its antioxidant properties, vitamin C helps to protect the DNA from damage and abnormalities. It is a good idea to include green beans in the diet in order to reduce the risk of various diseases.
Vitamin A – Green beans are loaded with vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant which helps to protect against high cholesterol, heart disease and cancer. Vitamin A also delays the signs of premature ageing such as wrinkles, dull skin, fine lines, dark spots and dry skin.
Manganese – There are also substantial amounts of manganese found in green beans. Manganese helps to alleviate the symptoms of osteoporosis and also assists in the absorption of other nutrients in the body.
Fiber – Green beans are packed with dietary fiber which is beneficial for those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. Fiber adds bulk to the stools and enables easy passage during bowel movements. Green beans are good for those with high cholesterol since fiber helps to lower the levels of bad cholesterol in the body. People with diabetes may also include green beans in their diet since it helps to regulate blood sugar levels.
Silicon – Green beans are also known to have healthy amounts of silicon, a mineral which supports health of the connective tissues and bones.

Green Beans Health Benefits
Green beans, also known as French beans, string beans or snap beans, are the unripe fruits of beans. Green beans are rich in fiber and low in calories. They also contain protein, carbohydrates and vitamins. Green beans were used to treat diabetes since ancient times and are today available fresh, frozen and canned. The nutritional content of all these forms of green beans is almost the same.

Cardiovascular Disease: Green beans can help reduce the risk of heart disease due to their high levels of flavonoids. Flavonoids are polyphenolic antioxidants that are commonly found in fruits and vegetables. Green beans have high levels of flavonoids and these antioxidants have certain anti-inflammatory properties. Test subjects with high flavonoid levels experienced anti-thrombotic results, preventing blood clots in the arteries and veins. Cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes are commonly caused by thrombotic activity, which means that a healthy volume of green beans and flavonoids in a diet can help prevent some of these conditions.

Colon Cancer: Recent studies have shown green bean consumption to be beneficial for preventing pre-cancerous polyps that commonly lead to colon cancer. Many studies have tried to link dry bean intake to cancer prevention, with limited results. However, new evidence suggests that increasing dietary green bean intake can reduce the risk of cancerous adenoma recurrence and colorectal cancer. More studies are ongoing, but that linkage is very important.

Fresh green beans are very low in calories (31 caloriess per 100 g of raw bean pods) and contain no saturated fat. Nevertheless, these lean pod vegetables are a very good source of vitamins, minerals, and plant derived micronutrients.

The beans are very rich source of dietary fiber (9% per 100g RDA) which acts as a bulk laxative. Fiber helps to protect mucousa in the colon by decreasing its exposure time to toxic substances as well as by binding to cancer-causing chemicals in the gut. Adequate amount of fiber has also been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels by decreasing reabsorption of cholesterol-binding bile acids in the colon.

Green beans contain excellent levels of vitamin A, and health promoting flavonoid poly phenolic antioxidants such as lutein, zea-xanthin and ß-carotene in good amounts. These compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes.

Zea-xanthin, an important dietary carotenoid in the beans, selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea in the eyes where it thought to provide antioxidant and protective UV-light filtering functions. It is, therefore, green beans offer some protection in the prevention of age-related macular disease (ARMD) in the elderly.

Snap beans are a good source of folates. 100 g fresh beans provide 37 µg or 9% of folates. Folate along with vitamin B-12 is one of the essential components of DNA synthesis and cell division. Good folate diet when given during preconception periods and during pregnancy may help prevent neural-tube defects in the newborn babies.

They also carry good amounts of vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), thiamin (vitamin B-1), and vitamin-C. Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals.

In addition, beans contain healthy amounts of minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and potassium, which are very essential for body metabolism. Manganese is a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase, which is a very powerful free radical scavenger. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure.