You already know that broccoli and spinach are good for you but may be less sure about the humble green bean. Green beans often take a back seat to the “super veggies” like cruciferous vegetables and green, leafy ones. So, what’s the truth about this sometimes overlooked side dish? Are green beans good for you?
Green bean nutrition
Green beans are surprisingly nutritious. A single serving of green beans has a quarter of the day’s requirements of vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin that’s important for healthy bones and blood clotting. They’re also a good source of vitamins A and C, antioxidant vitamins that protect cells against oxidative damage. Vitamins A and C both keep the immune system healthy, while vitamin A preserves night vision and keeps skin and the cornea of the eye moist.
They’re good for your heart
Green beans are a good source of heart-healthy fiber that helps to lower cholesterol levels. The vitamin C they contain helps to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol, which can lead to the dangerous accumulation of plaque in the artery walls. They also contain respectable amounts of potassium and magnesium, which help to normalize blood pressure.
Other health benefits
Green beans are a good source of most of the B-vitamins with the exception of vitamin B-12, which is found in animal products. They also contain iron to build healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the tissues. Premenopausal women may benefit from the iron found in green beans.
If you’re watching your calories, green beans are a guilt-free side dish. A full cup of cooked green beans only has only 43 calories. What’s not to love about that?
Be careful how you prepare them
Of course, the health benefits of green beans vary depending upon how you cook them. Preparing them with ham or bacon or cooking them with tons of butter raises their calorie content and reduces some of their heart-healthy benefits. Overcooking also lowers their nutritional value as some of the vitamins and minerals are lost. Try roasting or lightly sautéing them to bring out their flavor without reducing their health benefits.
The bottom line
The humble green bean is a healthy and nutritious choice as a side dish. Enjoy this often overlooked vegetable — and appreciate all it has to offer.