The Nutritional and Health Benefits of Integrating Green Beans into your Diet

Green beans are a tasty and versatile vegetable that can be found in a variety of dishes. Did you know, however, that they also provide numerous nutritional and health benefits? Green beans, when included in your diet, can not only improve your overall health but also provide you with essential vitamins and minerals. In this article, we will explore the nutritional and health benefits of green beans and provide easy-to-follow tips on how to incorporate them into your daily meals.

The Nutritional Composition of Green Beans

One cup of canned green beans (150 grams) contains the following nutrients, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA):

  • 28 calories
  • Fat: 0.55 g
  • Carbs: 5.66 g
  • Fiber: 2.6 g
  • Sugar: 1.94 g
  • Protein: 1.42 g
  • Calcium: 17 mg
  • Iron: 1.2 mg
  • Magnesium: 18 mg
  • Phosphorus: 30 mg
  • Potassium: 130 mg
  • Vitamin A: 24 mcg
  • Vitamin K: 52.5 mcg
  • Folate: 32 mcg

However, a cup of green beans also contains 362 mcg of sodium. High-sodium diets can lead to a range of diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. As a result, it is best to rinse canned green beans before use.

Health Benefits of Green Beans

Here are some of the health benefits of integrating green beans into your diet:

Improved Heart Health

Green beans are free of cholesterol. Although your body needs cholesterol for cell growth, excess consumption is bad for your health. High-cholesterol diets may cause the arteries to be clogged with fat, leading to a decrease in blood flow to the heart and brain. Depriving the brain and heart of enough blood may lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Furthermore, one cup of raw green beans contains 2.6 g of fiber. When boiled, green beans’ fiber content goes up to 4 g. Soluble fiber, which is among the fiber gotten from green beans, helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. It may also support heart health by reducing inflammation and lowering blood pressure.

Good for Fertility and Pregnancy

According to Harvard Medical School research, women of childbearing age need to consume more iron from plant sources to increase fertility. Green beans are loaded with iron, containing 1.2 mg per cup. Other studies have also found a link between a woman's fertility and the amount of iron she consumes.

To improve iron absorption, combine green beans and other iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods like tomatoes and bell peppers. Pregnant women also need to increase their intake of folate (folic acid) to protect the fetus from neural tube defects. A cup of green beans supplies approximately 10% of your daily folic acid requirement.

Supports Healthy Bones

Studies have found that a low intake of vitamin K is associated with a high risk of bone fracture. A sufficient intake of vitamin K improves bone health by increasing calcium absorption and decreasing calcium excretion. A cup of green beans contains 14.4 mcg of vitamin K, about 20% of your daily requirement. It also contains 4% of your recommended daily intake of calcium. 

Improved Gut Health

Green beans’ fiber content can also help keep your digestive system healthy. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body cannot digest, so it passes through the digestive system mostly intact. This helps to add bulk to the stool and promotes regular bowel movements. One cup of cooked green beans contains approximately 4 grams of fiber, which is about 14% of the recommended daily intake for adults.

Fiber also serves as food for the beneficial bacteria that live in the gut. These bacteria help to maintain a healthy balance of microorganisms in the gut, which is important for overall health. According to research, a fiber-rich diet can help promote the growth of these beneficial bacteria and support a healthy gut microbiome.

How to Incorporate Green Beans Into Your Diet

Here are some tips for integrating green beans into your diet:

  • Cook them in different ways: Green beans can be boiled, steamed, roasted, stir-fried, or grilled. Experiment with different cooking methods to find your favorite way of preparing them.
  • Add them to salads: Green beans can add crunch and flavor to salads. Simply blanch them for a few minutes until they are tender-crisp, then toss them with your favorite salad greens, vegetables, and dressing.
  • Make them a side dish: Green beans make a delicious side dish for any meal. Add some flavor by sautéing them with garlic and olive oil, or by seasoning them with herbs and spices.
  • Use them in stir-fries: Green beans can be added to stir-fries for a quick and healthy meal. Simply sauté them with other vegetables and protein sources, and season with soy sauce or other Asian-inspired sauces.

Bottom Line

Integrating green beans into your diet can provide a wide range of nutritional and health benefits, such as supporting heart health, boosting the immune system, and regulating blood sugar levels. With so many ways to incorporate these legumes into your diet, there is no excuse not to give them a try.