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Green beans, commonly referred to as string beans, are some of the most popular vegetables eaten. Found in soups and a common companion to potatoes, green beans are also eaten in salads and casseroles. But for some people, eating raw green beans is considered a delicacy. If the question of can you eat raw green beans is foremost in your mind, we’ll give you some reasons why you can, why you shouldn’t, and everything else in between.
Table of Contents
- Can You Eat Raw Green Beans?
- Are Raw Green Beans Toxic?
- Are There Benefits to Eating Green Beans Raw?
- Can You Really Lose Weight by Eating Raw Green Beans?
- How Should I Prepare Green Beans?
- Which Vegetables Should Not be Eaten Raw?
- Are Raw Green Beans the Most Dangerous Raw Beans?
- What About Canned or Frozen Green Beans?
- Do Raw Green Beans Contain Cholesterol?
- Will Raw Green Beans Really Improve My Health?
Can You Eat Raw Green Beans?
To answer your question, you can indeed eat green beans when they are raw. But if you do, be aware that doing so will have its disadvantages. While you may be able to eat a few raw green beans and experience no problems at all, you may also find there are times when you eat them and have bouts of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
As a legume, green beans are like all other beans in that they contain lectin, a carbohydrate-binding protein. If you’re wondering why this is a big deal, it is because lectins act as natural insecticides for beans. Thus, when eaten raw, the lectins can cause digestive issues because your body can suffer a reduction in the ability to absorb minerals.
Are Raw Green Beans Toxic?
While you can technically say that raw green beans are toxic to some extent, this does not mean you should automatically think you are poisoning yourself if you eat raw green beans.
Actually, there are many conflicting opinions as to whether raw green beans are, in fact, toxic. If eaten in smaller portions, raw green beans pose few, if any, problems to your digestive system. It can be good for you in many ways since raw green beans contain folates, antioxidants, and ascorbic acid, an excellent vitamin C source.
While green beans taste great when cooked, the downside is that you may be doing away with some of their nutrients in the process. Based on various research, scientists have found that cooking green beans reduce levels of Vitamin C and folates in the beans, making them somewhat less nutritious. But on the flip side, cooking green beans makes them easier to digest and gives them more taste, so the choice is yours as to which path you choose.
Are There Benefits to Eating Green Beans Raw?
Yes, you will find a number of health benefits associated with eating green beans in their raw state.
High in Fiber
One of the biggest benefits of eating raw green beans is their high fiber content, which will play a key role in keeping your digestive system regulated. This also helps you feel full much faster, making it a good food to eat if you are trying to lose weight.
Abundant Amounts of Vitamins
Along with their high fiber content, raw green beans also have lots of vitamins, especially vitamins A, C, and K. Vitamin A will help keep your eyesight sharp and strengthen your immune system, while Vitamin K will help with blood clotting. As for Vitamin C, it will help improve your immune system, help your skin have fewer wrinkles, and even aid in the prevention of certain cancers.
Finally, another great benefit to eating raw green beans is that they are rich in beta carotene, lutein, and magnesium. Extremely high in magnesium, raw green beans will use their magnesium to regulate your nervous system, help your body create new proteins, and give you more energy. In fact, many athletes eat raw green beans before workouts or competitions since research has shown this can help improve endurance in certain situations.
Can You Really Lose Weight by Eating Raw Green Beans?
Since they contain high levels of fiber and thus help you feel full much quicker, eating raw green beans may be a good way to help yourself lose a few pounds. Possessing only 31 calories per cup, raw green beans can be a nutritious snack when eaten in moderation. Low in sugar, they can also be a guilt-free snack that can be packed in a lunch and taken almost anywhere.
How Should I Prepare Green Beans?
While raw green beans can offer many benefits, you may still want to eat them cooked as well. If so, there are a few different ways from which you can choose.
To prepare green beans in a microwave, place them inside a microwave-safe bowl and add some water, then cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap. After heating them for three minutes, you can serve them hot and eat them with a salad or other foods.
When preparing green beans on a gas or electric stove, boiling them in a pot of water is simple and easy. This is the preferred cooking method for many people in only about five minutes.
If you have not had broiled green beans, you are in for a treat. Placed on a cookie sheet that’s covered by aluminum foil, a few minutes in the oven will give you a great addition to a salad.
Which Vegetables Should Not be Eaten Raw?
While it is generally accepted that eating raw green beans in small portions won’t do you any measurable harm, there are some vegetables that should also be eaten raw in very small amounts or not at all until they have been cooked.
A vegetable that can be prepared in numerous ways, potatoes eaten raw won’t taste very good and will also contain a toxic compound known as glycoalkaloids, which can produce quite an upset stomach if they so choose.
If you like rhubarb, eat only the stalks and not the plant’s leaves. If you do consume the leaves, you’ll probably be making a trip to the nearest ER since they are poisonous and can lead to breathing complications, burning of the mouth and throat, and in severe cases, even seizures.
Should you enjoy eating such sprouts as alfalfa, be advised that you should not do so until they have been cooked. When eaten raw, sprouts can often be contaminated with bacteria and can result in complications for people with compromised immune systems as well as women who are pregnant.
Are Raw Green Beans the Most Dangerous Raw Beans?
While raw green beans can cause you some gastric issues if you eat too many of them in one sitting, the fact is the toxins present in raw green beans are much lower than in other types of beans.
If you grew up having to eat your lima beans, be glad they were cooked prior to your meal. Raw lima beans contain the compound linamarin, which eventually breaks down into the very poisonous cyanide. Fortunately, after lima beans are cooked for as little as 10 minutes, they are safe to eat.
Red Kidney Beans
Unlike white kidney beans and other kidney beans, red kidney beans can be quite disastrous to your digestive system. Containing extremely high levels of lectin, consuming as few as four raw red kidney beans can cause severe illness. If you have your heart set on red kidney beans, cook them for at least 30 minutes and drain off the water to let the lectin escape.
What About Canned or Frozen Green Beans?
Since canned and frozen green beans are very convenient to use in many types of dishes, you may be wondering about their pros and cons.
Canned Green Beans
When you open a can of green beans, they may initially look like raw green beans soaking in water. However, canned green beans have already been pre-cooked, meaning you can eat them directly out of the can if you want without worrying about the lectin levels.
Frozen Green Beans
When you pull a bag of frozen green beans out of your freezer, it’s best if you can take them straight from the freezer to the stove and get them cooking immediately. Should they thaw out prior to being cooked, it is possible they can lose as much as 30 percent of their iron, magnesium, potassium, and Vitamin C. But on the positive side, cooked green beans will retain the same levels of vitamins A, B, and E as those found in raw green beans.
Do Raw Green Beans Contain Cholesterol?
Contrary to what some people have thought over the years, green beans contain no cholesterol whatsoever, whether raw or cooked in any way. Because of this, they are now considered to be a very heart-healthy food for those who need to watch their cholesterol intake.
Will Raw Green Beans Really Improve My Health?
If you decide to eat raw green beans in moderation on salads or just by themselves, you may reap more health benefits than you ever thought possible.
Reduced Cell Damage
Since raw green beans have lots of antioxidants, they are excellent vegetables to eat in regard to reducing cell damage throughout your body. In fact, they help to promote normal cell structure and development.
Combining calcium and Vitamin K, raw green beans can help you maintain strong, healthy bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.
Regulate Your Mood
The folates present in raw green beans can aid in the natural production of serotonin and dopamine, which can help keep you in a positive mood.
Is it Healthier to Eat Green Beans Raw or Cooked?
The health benefits are very similar whether you eat green beans raw or cooked. While cooking can lessen some levels of vitamins and minerals, it can also lessen lectin levels, leading to illness if eating raw green beans.
Are Raw Fresh Green Beans Good for You?
Yes. So long as you wash the beans prior to eating them and have small to moderate portions, raw fresh green beans can give you essential vitamins and minerals.
What Vegetables Should Not be Eaten Raw?
Vegetables that should not be eaten raw include potatoes, wild mushrooms, eggplant, rhubarb leaves, and sprouts. If sprouts or mushrooms are eaten, raw, severe or life-threatening health issues may arise.