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Broad Bean Health Benefits, Nutritional Value and Uses

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What is Broad Bean?

Broad bean is among the oldest crops in the world and so it is not surprising that it goes by many names, including vicia faba, fava bean, faba bean, field bean, bell bean and tic bean.
Although this species of bean is native to North Africa and parts of south Asia, it is extensively cultivated all over the globe. The broad bean is a hardy legume and can grow in almost any soil and any climate. The stems are tetragonous, glabrous, thick, bluish green, 6 ft. high and square shape at cross section. The plant bears bluish grey- green leaves about 10-25 cm long in a triangular to ovate shape. The leaflets are 4-10 cm long, 1-4 cm wide having the oval-elliptic shape. The flowers are white with black dots, about 1–2.5 cm long and they give pods as a fruit. The white flowers give way to pods 5-10 cm long and 1 cm diameter. Pods are thick, broad and leathery. These may by light green when young and blackish-brown when mature, each containing 3 to 8 seeds. The seeds are ovoid to oblong shaped, 1-3 cm as a diameter ranges from white, yellow, green, pinkish-red in color. Broad beans possess sweet, tender and succulent taste with mild flavor.

Health Benefits of Broad Bean

Heart Health: Broad beans are good sources of B vitamins which play an important role in the prevention of heart disease. Broad beans are also an excellent source of thiamine as 100 grams of raw broad beans provide almost half a person’s daily requirement for this nutrient. Thiamine deficiency is very common in people who suffer from congestive heart failure and research into thiamine supplementation showed that patients experienced a marked improvement in heart function.. Patients with congestive heart failure (CHF) who require long-term furosemide therapy are more likely to suffer from thiamine deficiency as the medication causes the body to get rid of too much thiamine. It would be best if individuals on this medication include broad beans in their daily diet to prevent thiamine deficiency. Broad beans are also extremely high in folate as 100 grams of raw broad beans meets a person’s entire daily requirement for folate. Folate or folic acid improves arterial elasticity and reduces arterial wall thickness which in turns lowers heart attack risk.

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Good for Parkinson’s disease: Broad beans are a good source of natural L-dopa as well as another natural chemical called C-dopa. Researchers found that consuming broad beans increases the levels of L-dopa and C-dopa in the blood along with a significant improvement in motor performance of patients with Parkinson’s disease. Furthermore, unlike the conventional medications for Parkinson’s, the patients did not suffer any side effects.

For Weight Management: Broad beans are a great weight loss food as they are low in calories but high in fiber. One cup of boiled broad beans contains just 187 calories but they provide 36% of your daily fiber requirement. They are also a good source of protein as they provide 25% of your protein requirement. Studies show that a low-calorie but high-protein and high-fiber diet produces greater weight loss in overweight and obese people. This type of a diet also helps to lower cholesterol levels and this in turn, lowers the risk of many other health problems including heart disease. One of the simplest ways to prepare broad beans is to include them in various salads. The slightly nutty taste of this bean goes very well with grilled or shredded chicken. You can make a simple high-protein low-calorie salad by tossing fava beans, boiled and shredded chicken and sautéed shallots (spring onions) in a bowl. Add lemon juice, salt and freshly ground pepper and throw in a few mint leaves for a cool twist to this weight loss salad.

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For Blood Pressure: Broad beans are a good source of potassium. Potassium helps to lower high blood pressure levels and helps in kidney and heart function. People who suffer from type 2 diabetes are often instructed by their doctors to add beans and legumes to their diet.

To Prevent Constipation: Fiber does not provide any nutritional value but it is essential for good digestive health as it provides roughage which ensures smooth bowel movements. Fiber also regulates the absorption of glucose and fats in the small intestine and prevents spikes in blood sugar levels. It also balances intestinal pH levels and reduces the risk of colorectal cancer. Fiber does not restrict the absorption of minerals and vitamins and certain types of fiber even work to improve the absorption of minerals such as calcium.
Broad beans contain soluble and insoluble fiber and one cup of boiled broad beans will provide you with 36 per cent of your daily dietary fiber needs.

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To Boost Immunity: Broad beans contain several nutrients including vitamins B, C and K and minerals such as manganese, magnesium and zinc. All of these nutrients play a vital role in the maintenance of the immune system. Broad beans also contain Isoflavones which are naturally occurring chemical compounds that boost the immune system and can even prevent certain types of cancer.

Uses of Broad Bean

  • Broad beans are very versatile and they can be used in salads, pasta, frittatas or other side dishes.
  • The creamy texture and mild sweet taste of the broad bean perfectly complements sharp tastes such as feta, bacon and anchovies.
  • Roasted broad beans make an excellent low calorie snack and are nutritionally superior to chips and regular snacks..