Beans: valuable ingredients

Green beans, white beans, broad beans, snap beans or kidney beans – there is hardly any other vegetable that comes in as many forms as the bean. There are more than 100 different types of beans in Germany and they are among the most versatile and popular legumes that we know. In addition, they are very healthy due to their numerous ingredients – provided you know what to consider when preparing them. In fact, raw beans are poisonous. Read everything you need to know about beans and their health benefits here.

Nutritional Values ​​and Calories

Beans are an important source of protein  for us  – white beans even contain more  protein  than meat and are therefore also   a good source of protein for vegetarians . The nutritional value of this type of vegetable varies greatly depending on the type and processing – for example whether fresh beans or canned ones are used.

For  example, the nutritional value per 100 grams of fresh kidney beans  is distributed as follows:

  • 22.1 grams of protein
  • 36.5 grams of carbohydrates, of which 1.1 grams of sugar
  • 21.3 grams  of fiber

With  251 kilocalories (kcal)  or 1,051 kilojoules per 100 grams, kidney beans are not exactly low in calories. Here, too, there are big differences between the different types of beans. 100 grams of green  runner beans  only weigh about  25 kilocalories  or 105 kilojoules. Therefore, the tasty vegetables can also be found on our menu if we want to save calories.

Healthy components of beans

The health benefits of beans are also due to their many minerals, because they contain, among other things:

In addition, there are numerous vitamins such as vitamins A, C and E, beta-carotene (provitamin A) and various vitamins from the B group (especially B1, B2 and B6).

effect on health

Beans only slowly release their carbohydrates into the bloodstream and thus keep the blood sugar level constant. As a result, they keep you full for a long time and are ideal  for diabetics.  They also contain soluble fibres, which bind cholesterol when it is excreted and thus lower the cholesterol level.

Due to the high fiber content, beans stimulate digestion and are good for  constipation .

More than other vegetables, beans can also   provide the body with antioxidants to fight free radicals. They are said to help prevent cardiovascular diseases,  arteriosclerosis  and cancer. A cancer-preventive effect, especially with regard to  colon cancer  and adenocarcinomas, has been demonstrated in various animal studies.

Prevent digestive problems from beans

There is a saying: “Every little bean makes a little sound”. In fact, many people struggle with digestive issues after eating beans.  So-called oligosaccharides are responsible for the  flatulence . These are carbohydrates that are difficult to digest and cannot be broken down in the small intestine, but only in the large intestine. This creates gases and the intestinal movement increases. In the case of severe symptoms, an intolerance can also be behind the symptoms.

Depending on the variety, it sometimes helps to soak the beans in water for up to 24 hours before cooking. As a result, the legumes cause fewer digestive problems.

In addition, the right spices can support digestion:  cumin , aniseed, coriander seeds and fennel are particularly suitable here. Alternatively, a caraway tea helps against flatulence.

This must be taken into account when preparing

The variety of preparation, whether as beans, salad or as an accompaniment to meat and fish, also speaks for this legume. Blanched beans in bacon, chilli con carne, stew, bean soup and cut beans are just some of the possible uses.

Beans can be prepared fresh or frozen. Under no circumstances should they be eaten raw, as they contain a toxic substance. This substance, the glycoside phasin, belongs to the group of lectins. Phasin can cause the red blood cells in the body to clump together, causing less oxygen to be carried. Diarrheanausea  and headaches can occur as symptoms of poisoning. However, cooked beans are safe to eat. After 15 minutes of heating or boiling, the phasin completely decomposes.

Tips on buying beans

Many healthy foods are not cheap, and above all not available at any time of the year. However, beans are not too expensive and are grown outdoors from May to October and in the greenhouse from April to December. They are also available through import during the remaining months of the year.

If they crack nicely when they break apart, then they’re spot on. So make sure when you buy them that the pods are not already limp or come with brown spots.

Some varieties, such as kidney beans, are sold dried or canned. This special type is a dry cooking bean, of which only the dried seeds can be used because of their hard shell and tough pods. Broad, white beans and mung beans are also available in cans or tetra packs.

storage and shelf life

Beans should be processed as quickly as possible, as they  only stay fresh for a short time.  In airtight packaging, beans will keep in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for about two days. Since you can freeze  them very well  , this is the best alternative if you have bought too many.

Types of beans and their origin

It is not easy to get an overview of the different varieties of these legumes. They owe their diversity, among other things, to their different origins. The climate in Europe is ideal: beans grow almost everywhere there. Another important growing area is East Asia. Some varieties are also native to Central and South America, especially in southern and western Mexico. They are an important staple food in many regions.

In most cases, these are annual frost-sensitive plants, which can be divided into bush or pole beans and fire or runner beans. The sleeves can be flat and flat or oval and flat.

Pearl beans  , for example, are very thin-skinned with small, round seeds, while old varieties are thick-skinned and still have threads that need to be pulled off. Even more unusual varieties, such as the Cuban black bean, have already found their way into our organic shops.

But regardless of whether they are green, yellow, red or black, flat or round: all beans are very healthy when cooked.

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