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Is it true that a high consumption of green beans leads to “favism”?

We often hear that a large consumption of green beans causes “favism”. In reality, such a statement is not accurate and does not apply to us all; it is only valid for people who suffer from what is called “favism” and who are prohibited from any consumption of beans (whether raw, canned or cooked) and certain types of food and certain medications.

“Favism” is a common disease that’s widespread worldwide. It is caused by a genetic deficiency of the G6PD enzyme (Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase) which is necessary for the proper functioning of red blood cells. In such cases, red blood cells get fragmented or degraded when exposed to oxidizing substances, some of which are found in green beans (and other types of foods and certain types of medications). It is for this reason that the name “favism” has been given to this disease. It should be noted here that favism generally affects men more than women. In addition, all individuals suffering from a deficiency in the G6PD enzyme must completely refrain from eating beans and should consult their physician who would provide them with a list of other foods or medicines that should also be avoided.

Nutrition-wise, green beans, which belong to the family of legumes, are among the foods that are very precious to many of us. They contain complex carbohydrates which are slowly absorbed by the body and which provide us with a strong feeling of satiety. It is also known that broad beans are low in fat and rich in vitamins (mainly vitamins B3, B5, B9, and C) and minerals (essentially potassium and phosphorus). This food is rich in vegetable proteins as well. Thus, when consumed during a meal that also includes some type of cereals, such as rice for example, it can be a good substitute for meat and this makes it an excellent choice for vegetarians. Moreover, green beans may well be an excellent “snack”. Indeed, one serving of green beans equals to half a cup of bean pieces or 8 to 10 bean fingers of medium size.

Finally, it’s a must to note that people suffering from digestive or intestinal disorders should consult their doctor before consuming green beans.

About Denise Abou Jamra

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