Fava beans are a delicious and nutritious legume that’ has been enjoyed in the Mediterranean region for centuries.
They’re famous for their high protein content, and studies have found that they might be a great way to reduce your risk of heart disease and strengthen the immune system.
They are also a good source of potassium, iron, folic acid, antioxidants, and dietary fiber, all of which play an essential role in promoting good health.
This article will break down everything there is to know about fava beans, including how they can help you live a healthy lifestyle.
What are Fava Beans?
Also known as faba beans, broad beans, or horse beans, fava beans are a member of the legume family, which also includes peas and lentils.
They grow in pods that contain several beans each. The beans are large and flat, and can be green or brown in color. When cooked, fava beans can be used whole or mashed into a paste.
They have a creamy texture with a nutty flavor that is both earthy and sweet.
Fava beans are a popular ingredient in many cuisines around the world, including Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Indian.
They can be used whole or mashed up into a paste and are often used in soups, stews, salads, and pasta dishes.
Fava Beans Nutrition
Fava beans are a great source of key nutrients, with one cup of cooked fava beans (170 grams) containing about:
- Calories: 187 calories
- Carbs: 33 grams
- Fat: Less than 1 gram
- Protein: 13 grams
- Fiber: 9 grams
- Folate: 177 mcg, or 40 percent of the daily requirement
- Manganese: 0.7 mg, or 36 percent of the daily requirement
- Copper: 0.4 mg, or 22 percent of the daily requirement
- Phosphorous: 212 mg, or 21 percent of the daily requirement
- Magnesium: 73.1 mg, or 18 percent of the daily requirement
- Iron: 2.5 mg, or 14 percent of the daily requirement
- Potassium: 456 mg, or 13 percent of the daily requirement
- Thiamine (vitamin B1): 0.2 mg, or percent of the daily requirement
- Zinc: 1.7 mg, or 11 percent of the daily requirement
- Vitamin K: 4.9 mcg, or 6 percent of the daily requirement
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2): 0.2 mg, or 9 percent of the daily requirement
Fave beans nutrition also provides other nutrients, although in small quantities. These may include vitamins A, C, and B6, niacin, pantothenic acid, calcium, and selenium.
1. They may boost immunity
Fava beans are a nutritional powerhouse packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support a healthy immune system.
Zinc is one of the most important nutrients for immunity, and fava beans are an excellent source.
Zinc is involved in many aspects of immunity, including the development and function of white blood cells and the production of antibodies.
Also, fava beans contain antioxidants, including kaempferol which has been shown to protect against disease.
Early research suggests that kaempferol may have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and heart-protective effects. Kaempferol has also been shown to boost cognitive function and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline.
In addition to their immune-boosting nutrients, fava beans contain prebiotic fiber, which promotes the growth of healthy gut bacteria. Gut health is important for overall health and immunity, so eating foods like fava beans that support gut health is beneficial.
2. A good source of fiber
Fava beans are an excellent source of dietary fiber, which is essential for promoting regularity and preventing constipation.
The soluble fiber in fava beans also helps lower cholesterol levels by binding to bile acids and preventing their reabsorption into the bloodstream.
This can lead to a decrease in the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Additionally, horse beans are a good source of resistant starch, a type of indigestible carbohydrate that acts like soluble and insoluble fiber in the body.
Resistant starch has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels after meals and boost energy levels.
Additionally, resistant starch may improve gut health by promoting the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestine.
3. Hoarse beans are suitable for pregnancy
Hoarse beans are a source of many essential nutrients for a healthy pregnancy, including folate and iron.
Folate is a water-soluble vitamin mainly found in leafy green vegetables and legumes. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate and is found in supplements and fortified foods.
Folate is important for pregnant women because it helps to prevent neural tube defects in the developing baby.
Iron is an important mineral for pregnant women. It helps to make hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood. Oxygen is important for the baby’s growth and development. Iron also helps prevent anemia, which can harm the mother and baby.
4. Improves Parkinson’s Disease
Fava beans are a good source of levodopa, the dopamine precursor. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate movement. Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative neurological disorder characterized by low levels of dopamine in the brain. This may lead to tremors, muscle rigidity, and problems with balance and coordination.
There is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, but treatment can help to manage symptoms.
Fava beans contain an amino acid called levodopa (L-dopa), which is used to treat Parkinson’s disease. L-dopa is converted into dopamine in the brain, which boosts dopamine levels and improves symptoms.
Several studies have shown that fava beans can improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
One study found that taking 100-200 mg of faba beans with carbidopa, an anti-Parkinson’s medication, improved symptoms with the same effect as traditional combinations.
Another small study found that eating one and a half cups of fava beans after 12 hours without medication increased dopamine levels and improved motor functions as if L-dopa drugs were used.
That being said, fava beans should never replace your regular Parkinson’s medication.
But overall, the evidence suggests that fava beans may benefit patients with Parkinson’s disease.
If you are considering adding them to your diet, speak to your doctor first as they may interact with other medications you are taking.
5. Broad beans can promote healthy bones
Broad beans are an excellent source of vitamin K, which is important for bone health. They are also a good source of copper and manganese, two minerals that are essential for bone formation.
Additionally, broad beans contain phytoestrogens, which have been shown to protect against osteoporosis.
6. They may improve blood pressure
The humble bean fava bean may have some big benefits when it comes to blood pressure.
A new study has found that eating a cup of fava beans daily may lower blood pressure, especially in people with hypertension.
The study, published in the journal Hypertension, looked at the effects of fava beans on blood pressure in both normal-weight and overweight adults.
The researchers found that, compared to a control diet, eating a diet rich in fava beans for four weeks significantly reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
This is because beans are a good source of potassium, which is essential for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.
Interestingly, the blood pressure-lowering effects of fava beans were most pronounced in overweight individuals.
This is likely due to the fact that overweight people tend to have higher levels of inflammation, which can contribute to hypertension.
The anti-inflammatory properties of fava beans may help to offset this effect.
If you’re looking to lower your blood pressure, adding a few servings of fava beans to your diet is a simple and delicious way to do so.
7. Lowers cholesterol
Fava beans are a good source of soluble fiber, which can help lower cholesterol levels.
Soluble fiber binds with cholesterol in the digestive tract and prevents it from being absorbed into the bloodstream.
8. Promote weight loss
Fava beans are a good source of fiber, which can promote weight loss by helping you feel full and satisfied after eating.
Also, fava beans are a low-calorie food, so you can eat a lot of them without packing on the pounds.
Additionally, fava beans contain some resistant starch, which has been shown to help with weight loss by reducing the number of calories absorbed from other foods.
Fava Beans vs Lima beans
Fava beans and lima beans may look similar, but they have some key differences.
Size: Lima beans are large, flat, and kidney-shaped. Fava beans are flat, oval, and large, like an overgrown lima bean
Color: Fava beans are more of a greenish-brown color, and lima beans are beige to light green
Taste: Lima beans are starchy with a mild smooth, creamy texture and buttery flavor. Fava beans are less starchy, creamy, nutty, earthy, slightly bitter, and slightly sweet. Fava beans may also taste cheesy to some people.
Protein: Fava beans have higher protein content than lima beans
How to Cook Broad Beans
Cooking broad beans is a simple process. With this step-by-step guide, you’ll be able to cook fava beans that are perfectly cooked every time. Whether you’re using dry or fresh broad beans, here is what to do:
How to Cook Fresh Fava Beans
If you’re lucky enough to find fresh fava beans, they will need to be peeled before cooking.
- If they are still in their pods, you need to shell them to obtain the beans.
- To remove the skin, blanch the fresh fava beans in boiling water for a minute or two until the skins loosen. Then, pop the beans out of their skins using your fingers or a small knife.
- Fresh broad beans will take only a couple of minutes to cook since the blanching process has partially cooked them.
- Simmer the beans for two or three minutes or until tender.
- Drain the cooked beans in a colander or strainer.
- Rinse the beans with cold water to stop the cooking process.
- Enjoy your cooked fava beans as is with some seasoning and olive oil, or add them to your favorite recipe!
How to Cook Dried Fava Beans
If you’re looking to cook dried fava beans, here are the steps:
- Sort through the fava beans and remove any debris and damaged or discolored beans
- Rinse the beans in cold water
- Soak the beans in water for at least 8 hours or overnight. This will soften the skin, causing it to rub off easily.
- Drain the beans and squeeze out the bean from the skin.
- Once the skin is removed, rinse the beans and place them in a pot of boiling water. Boil for about 45 minutes.
- Drain the beans and add them to your recipe.
Common Fava Beans Recipes
Fava beans are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to salads and pasta. Here are some of my favorite recipes:
Fava Bean Soup
This hearty soup is perfect for a cold winter day. It’s made with fresh fava beans, potatoes, carrots, and celery, and it’s finished off with a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice.
Fava Bean Salad
This bright and flavorful salad is made with chopped fava beans, cherry tomatoes, red onion, parsley, and mint. It’s dressed simply with olive oil and lemon juice.
Pasta with Fava Beans
This simple but satisfying dish features pasta tossed with sautéed fava beans, garlic, and olive oil. Add a sprinkle of vegan Parmesan cheese on top before serving.
Fava Bean Stew
This stew is made in a similar way to the soup but with additional ingredients like diced tomatoes, potatoes, and carrots. It has a heartier texture and is perfect for a winter meal.
Fava Bean Side Dish
This dish is simply cooked fava beans served as a side alongside grilled tofu or roasted vegetables. They can be flavored with various seasonings like salt, pepper, garlic, lemon juice, or olive oil.
Fava Bean Hummus
This dish is a perfect appetizer or snack.
To make your hummus, blend cooked fava beans, tahini, olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice in a food processor until smooth—season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with pita bread or vegetables for dipping.
Other Bean Recipes
- Blackbean Butternut Squash Stew
- Vegan White Bean Soup
- Ghanaian Red Red
- British Baked Beans
- Instant Pot Pinto Beans
- Instant Pot Split Pea Soup
Fava beans are an excellent source of fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
These nutrients offer numerous health benefits like improving Parkinson’s disease, promoting weight loss, and supporting a healthy pregnancy.
They are also versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, so you’re sure to find a way to incorporate them into the meals that you enjoy.
Give them a try and see how delicious and healthy they can be!
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