Grower = Hamilton, Vic
- 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.
- 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 than 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 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.