Grower - Ngeringa, SA
Foods often have more than one name, but few have as many monikers as the broad bean. You may know them as fava, butter, Windsor, horse or even English beans. Whatever name you use, these beans are meaty and flavorful enough to hold their own as a side dish or mixed into an entree. Adding just a handful of these beans to a salad provides a boost of protein, fiber, potassium and energy-providing B vitamins.
Folate participates in biochemical processes that create genetic material, build cells and metabolize amino acids. It’s so essential for the growth and development of new cells that it helps prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord when taken before and during early pregnancy. Everyone needs folate to produce healthy red blood cells and prevent anemia, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. One cup of cooked broad beans contains 44 percent of the recommended daily intake of folate.
Most beans, including broad beans, are good sources of iron. One cup of broad beans has 3 milligrams of iron, which is 32 percent of the recommended daily intake for men and 14 percent for women. In addition to carrying oxygen throughout the body, iron-dependent enzymes sense when oxygen levels drop and initiate processes that allow the body to compensate. Iron supports the immune system by functioning as an antioxidant that protects the white blood cells responsible for destroying bacteria.
Enzymes are proteins that activate and speed up chemical processes inside your body. Almost 100 enzymes depend on zinc to fulfill their roles, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. In this role, zinc is vital for normal growth and development. Zinc deficiencies can cause growth retardation and delayed neurological development. Your immune system also suffers if you don’t get enough zinc. Decreased levels of zinc are associated with fewer white bloods cells available to fight invading pathogens and infection. The zinc from 1 cup of broad beans provides 15 percent of the recommended daily intake for men and 21 percent for women.
If you have Parkinson’s disease, talk to your physician before eating broad beans. Broad beans are a natural source a levodopa, which is converted into the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is one of the medications used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s, but consuming levodopa from broad beans can cause both good or bad effects, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Their possible impact should be assessed by a doctor familiar with your condition.
Young, fresh broad beans should be tender enough to be shelled and eaten, but mature beans develop a skin that must be removed. Blanch the shelled beans in boiling water, then drop them into cold water. The waxy skin should be easy to peel away. Think in terms of using broad beans in any recipe that calls for lima beans, such as succotash. They can also replace chickpeas in hummus. Try mixing them with brown rice or making a snack by sauteing them in olive oil and sprinkling the beans with cayenne or a salt substitute.