Enyeribe Ejiogu ([email protected])
Go to any market in the urban areas across Nigeria, you find green beans on sale. It is used to garnish fired rice. Recent research has identified vital health benefits of green beans. Some of the benefits include the reduced risk of heart disease and colon cancer, as well as an improved regulation of diabetes. Green beans provide a big boost to the immune system and contributes to the elimination of harmful free radicals.
It is packed with nutrients that boost the health of the eyes and bones, while regulating your digestive processes. They have also been shown to reduce the risk of birth defects for pregnant women. As low calorie food item, it provides vitamins and minerals.
Green beans belongs to the taxonomic family of plants called Phaseolus vulgaris and there are approximately 150 varieties of green beans grown all over the under different climatic conditions. There is tendency to wrong assume that it is a western food staple. The truth as noted earlier is that green beans is widely cultivated across Africa and Asia and used to prepare various cultural dishes.
Nutritional breakdown of green beans
Green beans are nutritionally comparable to other pod vegetables, such as snap peas and okra. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, 100 grams of green beans contains 41 calories, 0g of fat, 8g carbohydrate, 4g of fiber, 4g of sugar and 2g of protein. Green beans are a rich source of vitamins A, C, and K; they also contain folate, thiamin, riboflavin, iron, magnesium, and potassium.
Green beans offer the following health benefits.
Helps fights and prevent cancer
Extensive research efforts have shown that consumption has nutritional value in helping to prevent and stop the spread of several cancers throughout the body. While one of the reasons for this is the high antioxidant load in green beans nutrition, which help scavenge free radicals in the body responsible for many diseases, one overview study that compiled decades of research on the health benefits of green beans (and other varieties of Phaseolus vulgaris beans) found that: “The anti-carcinogenic activity of beans is related to the presence of resistant starch, soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, phenolic compounds, as well as other micro-constituents such as phytic acid, protease inhibitors, and saponins.”
In other words, nutrients present in green beans help exert anti-carcinogenic properties in the body, independently from the antioxidant activity found from green beans nutrition. This places green beans among the strongest cancer-fighting foods. Research also supports that in addition to preventative measures, peptides in green beans can also slow or stop the growth of cancer cells.
Regular consumption of green beans is associated with a lower risk of breast, colon and prostate cancer. Eating varieties of Phaseolus vulgaris is also associated with slowed or inhibited growth of leukemia, breast cancer and lymphoma cells.
Several nutrients in green beans have cancer-fighting properties on their own. Lutein, one of the types of antioxidants known as carotenoids, is found in large quantities in green beans. It’s suggested that people who consume high quantities of dietary lutein have a lowered risk of breast, colon, cervical and lung cancer, and green beans is No. 8 on the list of foods highest in lutein. Vitamin C is also a commonly known anticancer vitamin, as it has been known, in large doses, to treat cancer. Many health practitioners also use vitamin C to supplement chemotherapy drugs, as the vitamin helps the drugs target only the cancerous cells, rather than the entire body. One serving of green beans contains over a quarter of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C.
The amount of vitamin K in a serving of green beans provides over half of one day’s recommended intake as well. Guess what else has been proven to protect the body against cancer? That’s right, vitamin K has had success in reducing the risk of prostate, colon, stomach, nasal and oral cancer.
2. Slows the spread of HIV in the body
A fascinating study done in Hong Kong in 2010 studied the effect of a specific nutrient found in French green beans on tumors, fungus and HIV. It found positive effects in all three subsets, but most interestingly was its effect in inhibiting human immunodeficiency virus, HIV, which is an incurable virus spread by the exchange of certain bodily fluids. Unlike other viruses, HIV cannot be completely removed from the body. Left untreated, it can develop into AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). HIV/AIDS is associated with a number of health risks because it attacks T-cells that normally help the body fight off infection.
The HIV virus works by a process known as reverse transcription, in which the viral cells use an enzyme, reverse transcriptase, to create what’s known as complementary DNA, or cDNA, from RNA templates. This cDNA is bound to the body’s DNA and creates a long-term infection that can’t be separated from the body.
To slow this process, doctors often prescribe anti-retrovirals, which are medications that try to stop reverse transcription so the virus can’t integrate into the body as fast as if left untreated. While these medications can greatly improve the life expectancy of patients with HIV and stave off the virus’ progression into AIDS, researchers have been interested for some time about the effects of nutrition on HIV.
The study from Hong Kong found that the green beans nutrition from French green beans significantly inhibited reverse transcription in HIV-1 cells, the more common form of HIV found throughout the world. These findings suggest that green beans, along with antiretroviral therapy and other HIV/AIDS-fighting foods like spirulina, may be a long-term treatment solution for patients suffering from these viruses.
3. Decreases risk for and helps manage diabetes
When you consume whole-grain foods, such as beans and other legumes, three or more times in one week, you can decrease your risk of diabetes up to 35 percent. Other risk reduction methods for this disease include consuming foods with a low glycemic index.
Due to of the type of dietary fiber and carbohydrates found in green beans nutrition, it is considered as a low glycemic index food because the carbohydrates release slowly in your system and help avoid spikes and dips in glucose levels in your blood. Beans are among the best whole-grain foods to eat, especially if you’re monitoring your glucose levels and are already at risk for obesity or diabetes, because other popular whole-grain foods like baked potatoes and rice often have a high glycemic index, usually somewhere between 50 and 85, whereas beans score a low 20 on the scale.
Not only do foods like green beans affect your potential risk of diabetes, but if you already have diabetes, your diet is crucial to managing this chronic condition. That’s why green beans should be part of any diabetic diet plan.
Low glycemic index diets are strongly associated with decreased insulin sensitivity and regulate the diet-insulin responses of people with diabetes and prediabetes, and can also help your body properly process insulin. In fact, hypoglycemic foods, including Phaseolus vulgaris, have been shown to decrease the glucose tolerance curve (a measurement tool used by physicians and researchers to observe the progression of glucose intolerance) by almost 5 percent more than the most commonly prescribed drug for diabetes.
Patients with diabetes have damaged β-cells, or beta cells, in their pancreas. These damaged cells cause the body to under-produce insulin and fail to release the insulin already present in the body. In 2013, researchers in Mexico discovered that a cooked “common bean” given to diabetic rats caused a significant drop in glucose, triglycerides, overall cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, consistent with protection of beta cells in the pancreas. Their findings show that various Phaseolus vulgaris beans, including green beans, can be used as one way to nutritionally control diabetes.
Other studies focus on the inflammation associated with diabetes and have found species of Phaseolus vulgaris beans play a key role in reducing this inflammation.
4. Helps maintain healthy eating habits
As mentioned earlier, green beans are an excellent food for managing glucose levels in people at risk for obesity because they’re a whole grain that scores very low on the glycemic index scale. This is not just for people at risk for diabetes.
Adding green beans to a balanced meal is clinically proven to help you lose weight by reducing your blood glucose levels, making you feel full and slowing the secretion of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, that causes your brain to desire to eat again.
5. Protects the heart from disease
Lowering cholesterol in the blood is good for more than just weight and diabetes risk — it also keeps the heart beating strong. Beans help support heart health by managing metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions associated with a higher risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Again, this can be explained in part by the resistant starch and dietary fiber content of beans, because they delay the use of glucose from foods, change the way the body uses fat and increase satiety (the satisfied feeling one has after eating) to control the appetite.
Consuming legumes four times or more a week can decrease the risk of heart disease up to 22 percent versus eating them once a week. Similarly to their mechanism for helping maintain healthy eating and treating diabetes, this is because legumes like green beans are whole-grain, high-fiber foods that score low on the glycemic index scale. Another study found an inverse association between legume consumption and coronary heart disease, discovering that eating just ¾ cup of beans daily decreased the risk of heart attack by an astounding 38 per cent.
Green beans are especially powerful in protecting the heart due to their vitamin K and lutein content. Vitamin K carries calcium out of the arteries, preventing it from forming large plaque deposits and eventually calcifying those arteries. Getting enough vitamin K in the diet helps protect the lining of the arteries and other body tissues, as well as reduces inflammation to maintain healthy blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart attack. Low levels of lutein are also associated with hardening of the artery walls, and high lutein in the bloodstream is connected with a reduced risk of coronary disease and heart attack, although the reasons why are still unclear.
6. May improve fertility and protect newborns
Infertility affects between 13 percent and 17 percent of couples of reproductive age around the world. It’s such a high percentage that the World Health Organization has recently recognized it as a social disease, meaning it’s caused by various social and economic factors.
Lifestyle and proper nutrition greatly affect fertility and have the potential to correct a large majority of the issues that cause infertility. Green beans and other legumes are excellent sources of nutrition for those at risk for infertility, as they’re low on the glycemic index and also contain significant levels of folate and iron, three factors specifically indicated in nutrition-based research on improving fertility and beating infertility. Folic acid and other antioxidants play a large role in this process.
Folate, or folic acid, doesn’t only help both males and females experience higher levels of fertility — it’s good for babies, too. Dietary folate decreases the risk of a large number of birth defects. This is why you want to avoid folate deficiency, something you can do with green beans nutrition.
7. Supports a healthy digestive system
The fiber in green beans also helps your digestive system maintain optimal health, as it prevents many digestive problems. One method by which they help your digestive system is by protecting the lining of your gastrointestinal tract from becoming damaged. That protection, combined with a regular dietary intake of vitamin B12 and vitamin C, helps your body absorb iron (also found in green beans nutrition), which also impacts digestive health.
8. Keeps bones strong
Because of its high vitamin K content, green beans nutrition can also help your body build and maintain strong bones. From the elderly at risk for osteoporosis to athletes, consuming high levels of vitamin K helps your body maintain bone density, reduce the risk of bone fracture and even help heal broken bones.
►Culled from www.naturegist.com