Antioxidant Support from Green Beans:
Best studied from a research standpoint is the antioxidant content of green beans. In addition to conventional antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C and beta-carotene, green beans contain important amounts of the antioxidant mineral manganese. But the area of phytonutrients is where green beans really shine through in their antioxidant value. Green beans contain a wide variety of carotenoids (including lutein, beta-carotene, violaxanthin, and neoxanthin) and flavonoids (including quercetin, kaemferol, catechins, epicatechins, and procyanidins) that have all been shown to have health-supportive antioxidant properties. In addition, the overall antioxidant capacity of green beans has been measured in several research studies, and in one study, green beans have been shown to have greater overall antioxidant capacity than similar foods in the pea and bean families, for example, snow peas or winged beans.
Just as you might expect, the antioxidant support provided by green beans provides us with some direct cardiovascular benefits. While most of the cardio research on green beans involves animal studies on rats and nice, improvement in levels of blood fats and better protection of these fats from oxygen damage has been shown to result from green bean intake. Interestingly, the green bean pod (the main portion of the green beans that provides the covering for the beans inside) appears to be more closely related to these cardio benefits that the young, immature beans that are found inside.
While not documented in the health research to date, we believe that the omega-3 fatty acid of content of green beans can also make an important contribution to their cardiovascular benefits. Most people do not even recognize green beans as a source of omega-3 fats! While there is a relatively small amount of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) in green beans, this amount can still be very important and is actually fairly large in comparison to the amount of calories in green beans. You get 1 milligram of ALA for every 4 calories of green beans that you eat. For every 4 calories of walnuts that you eat, you get 1.4 milligrams of ALA. So you can see that green beans—while not as concentrated in ALA as walnuts—are nevertheless an underrated source of this heart-protective nutrient.