Green beans are most commonly referred to as string beans because of the ‘string’ running lengthwise down the seam of the pod, although there are varieties that are stringless. String beans are also often referred to as “snap beans” because they are picked in the immature stage and can be literally snapped in half easily. Green beans or, string beans or snap beans, however you call them, are bright green and crunchy when picked, and are typically eaten in fresh versus dried, including the pod. They are in season from summer through early fall, so you should still be able to find them in your local grocery stores soon. It’s interesting that green beans belong to the same family as shell beans—pinto beans, black beans, and kidney beans—and often referred to as part of the common beans.
Even though green beans are green in color, they also have other carotenoids like those in other carotenoid-rich vegetables (tomatoes and carrots): lutein, beta-carotene, violaxanthin, and neoxanthin in green beans. Because of the concentrated chlorophyll content of green beans you don’t see these other carotenoids; but they contain health-supportive antioxidant properties, essential vitamins, and minerals.
Green beans are also a very good source of enzyme-supportive manganese, molybdenum, heart-healthy dietary fiber, folate, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C. And if you didn’t think that was enough—green beans also have a good source of energy-producing iron, vitamin B1, niacin; bone-building calcium, phosphorus, and copper; muscle-enhancing protein; and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, and direct cardiovascular benefits. Sounds like this is one great vegetable to add to your healthy meals.
A word of caution, though—some studies show that people with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating green beans due to the oxalates contained in beans that may interfere with the absorption of calcium from the body.
You can grow green beans in linear rows as a bushy plant (thus called bush beans), or planted against a trellis where they will climb (thus pole beans). No matter what they’re called at your grocery store, you can enjoy green beans.
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