It's impossible to describe the potential health benefits of green beans and not mention bone health. Although we have yet to see research documentation in this area, we expect to see studies that document green bean support of bone health for five basic reasons: namely, its concentration of silicon, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. The strong carotenoid and flavonoid content of green beans also appears to give this vegetable some potentially unique anti-inflammatory benefits.
What's New and Beneficial About Green Beans
- Because of their rich green color, we don't always think about green beans as providing us with important amounts of colorful pigments like carotenoids. But they do! Recent studies have confirmed the presence of lutein, beta-carotene, violaxanthin, and neoxanthin in green beans. In some cases, the presence of these carotenoids in green beans is comparable to their presence in other carotenoid-rich vegetables like carrots and tomatoes. The only reason we don't see these carotenoids is because of the concentrated chlorophyll content of green beans and the amazing shades of green that it provides.
- You can enjoy green beans while supporting food sustainability! Recent surveys have shown that 60% of all commercially grown green beans are produced in the United States, with large amounts of green bean acreage found in the states of Illinois, Michigan, New York, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Although countries like France, Mexico, Iraq, and Argentina are large-scale producers of green beans, there is plenty of this delicious vegetable available in our own backyard.
- If you are unable to obtain fresh green beans, you can still get many valuable nutrients from green beans that have been frozen or canned. We like fresh greens the best! But we realize that access to them can sometimes be a problem. When first frozen and then cooked, retention of some B vitamins in green beans (like vitamins B6 and B2) can be as high as 90%. Recent studies have shown that canned green beans—on average—lose about one third of their phenolic compounds during the canning process. They lose B vitamins as well—but in the case of some B vitamins like folic acid, as little as 10%.
- Green beans (referred to as "string beans" by the study authors) have recently been shown to have impressive antioxidant capacity. Research comparing the overall antioxidant capacity of green beans to other foods in the pea and bean families (for example, snow peas or winged beans) has found green beans to come out on top, even though green beans are not always highest in their concentration of specific antioxidant nutrients like phenolic acids or vitamin C. It's not surprising to find recent studies highlighting the antioxidant capacity of green beans! Researchers now know that the list of antioxidant flavonoids found in green beans is not limited to quercetin and kaemferol but also includes flavonoids like catechins, epicatechins, and procyanidins. Researchers also know that the antioxidant carotenoids in this vegetable are diverse, and include lutein, beta-carotene, violaxanthin, and neoxanthin, as noted above.
- Green beans may be a particularly helpful food for providing us with the mineral silicon. This mineral—while less well known that minerals like calcium and magnesium—is very important for bone health and for healthy formation of connective tissue. Green beans have recently been shown to stack up quite well against other commonly-eaten foods as a good source of absorbable silicon.
To retain the maximum number of health-promoting phytonutrients and vitamins and minerals found in green beans, we recommend Healthy Steaming them for just 5 minutes. This also brings out their peak flavor and provides the moisture necessary to make them tender, and retain their beautifully bright green color. It is best to cook green beans whole to ensure even cooking. For more on the Healthiest Way of Cooking Green Beans, see the How to Enjoy section of the green beans write-up on the website.
Green provide numerous health benefits including:
- Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
- Cardiovascular health support
- Bone health promotion
For more details on green beans' health benefits, see this section of our green beans write-up.
Green beans are an important source of both carotenoids and flavonoids. Green bean carotenoids include lutein, beta-carotene, violaxanthin, and neoxanthin. Green bean flavonoids include quercetin, kaemferol, catechins, epicatechins, and procyanidins. Green beans are an excellent source of vitamin K. They are a very good source of manganese, vitamin C, dietary fiber, folate, and vitamin B2. In addition, green beans are a good source of copper, vitamin B1, chromium, magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, choline, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), niacin, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, vitamin B6, and vitamin E. Green beans have also been shown to contain valuable amounts of the mineral silicon, and in a form that makes it easier for us to absorb this bone-supportive and connective tissue-supportive nutrient. Green beans have also been shown to contain valuable amounts of the mineral silicon, and in a form that makes it easier for us to absorb this bone-supportive and connective tissue-supportive nutrient.
For more on this nutrient-rich vegetable, including references related to this Latest News, see our write-up green beans.