Fava beans are one of the most nutritious green legumes. Packed with so many vitamins and minerals, including them in your diet is definitely an excellent idea. Should you be eating more fava beans? You can surely answer this answer by reading more about the benefits and some probable side effects when you include this variety of green legumes in your current diet.
What They Are
Should you be eating more fava beans? This is one question that can be answered by understanding what these essentially are. Fava beans comes in different names. Scientifically, these are called vicia faba. They are more commonly known as fava beans or broad beans. Fava beans come in stiff, erect pods that have about two to seven small grayish green leaves and flowers with five long white petals. The pods can grow up to 4 inches long and each contains up to eight seeds. The diameter of the seeds can reach up to 10mm.
Fava beans are usually eaten when these are still young. During preparation, the beans are taken out of the pods and are then steamed, boiled, or fried. Since they grow abundantly practically anywhere, they are popular not only in the US but in places as far as Iran, Pakistan, China, and Thailand.
They are a staple component of many Latin American cuisines particularly Mexican street foods such as tacos, chalupa, tostadas, fajita, and tortas as well as the pre-Hispanic traditional dish called tlacoyo. In places like Ethiopia, for example, fava beans are very popular. They are in many traditional Ethiopian dishes such as Hilibat which is a local preparation made up of fava beans with onions, garlic, and other spices. In Egypt, fava beans are shelled, dried, and then cooked with water on low heat. Different countries include broad beans in their food preparation through various techniques. This is how resilient this plant is.
Here is yet another criterion by which you can use to answer the question of eating more fava beans or not. Knowing the nutritional information of these green legumes takes us a step closer to decide whether to increase the intake of fava beans or keep them on hold. Here are its components at a 100 g serving (3.5oz):
- Energy – 341 kcal
- Carbohydrates – 60g
- Dietary fiber – 25g
- Fat – 1.53 g
- Protein – 27g
- Thiamine – 48% of RDI
- Riboflavin – 28% of DV
- Niacin – 19% o of DV
- Vitamin B6 – 28% of DV
- Foliate – 106% of DV
- Vitamin C – 1.4mg
- Vitamin K – 9pg
Apart from these vitamins, fava beans are abundant with the following minerals:
- Calcium – 193mg
- Zinc – 3.14mg
- Magnesium – 192mg
- Sodium – 13mg
- Copper – 0.824mg
- Selenium – 8.2pg
- Potassium – 1062mg
- Iron – 7mg
- Manganese – 1.626mg
- Phosphorus – 421 mg
Fava beans are truly nutritious so it may be a good idea to increase the intake of these green legumes.
These beans offer many health benefits. Among them are the following:
They are very nutritious.
Fava beans are teeming with vitamins and minerals. This is the main reason why it is a popular addition to many dishes. With such amazing nutritional value, it is truly an excellent idea to include this type of beans in one’s diet.
They boost the immune system.
Given its long list of vitamins and minerals as content, it does not come as a surprise that these beans help promote immune system health. If you want to boost your immune system the healthy way, including fava beans in your diet, is one of the best ways to do so.
They boost energy as well.
The different B vitamins play a huge role in this. This type of vitamins which is abundant in broad beans helps amp up the energy and hasten recovery after strenuous activities. Add iron and folate in the mix and you have gotten a natural energy high unlike any other.
They promote organ health.
Fava beans do a lot of good for the body organs. The fiber found in this type of beans, for example, help lower cholesterol which is beneficial to the heart. Fiber also promotes healthy and regular bowel movement which is of benefit to the stomach. This is just one way to illustrate how beneficial broad beans are.
They prevent birth defects.
The folate found in fava beans helps keep the baby in the womb healthy and free from defects. This is the reason why many doctors encourage pregnant women to include broad beans in their usual diet.
They help manage symptoms of certain conditions.
Fava beans are known to help reduce the risk and manage symptoms of Parkinson’s disease as well as osteoporosis. For Parkinson’s disease, broad beans work as a catalyst for the production of L-dopa. This is a naturally occurring chemical that helps improve motor performance and relieves common symptoms caused by Parkinson’s disease. Manganese, on the other hand, help reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis when a person grows older.
The main risk of fava beans is favism. At first, this sounds like it is made up but this condition is serious and can be life-threatening. Here, there is an inborn metabolism error called Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PDD). This can be triggered by different things including eating fava beans hence the name, favism. This can lead to anemia, jaundice, hemolytic crisis, diabetic ketoacidosis, or even acute kidney failure. If you notice any of these symptoms after eating fava beans, consult your doctor immediately:
- Yellowish skin
- Shortness of breath
- Exhaustion or general body malaise
- Dark urine
With the many benefits fava beans have to offer, people are encouraged to eat more of this type of beans. However, the threat of favism is very real so make sure you monitor some of the symptoms mentioned above. Important to note is that favism is not too common and most people can enjoy the benefits of fava beans without any trouble at all. So have your fill of broad beans and take full advantage of all their nutritious goodness.