In this video we talk about our hero vegetable for the month: broad beans. This classic late-spring/early-summer legume is just about to come into season and is a great choice for introducing kids to greens as very few people are allergic to them and they have a close resemblance to the humble garden pea, a vegetable most kids will eat.
Probably the oldest cultivated vegetable in Europe, broad beans are thought to have been grown as a crop for at least 10,000 years. If you pop the beans out of their shells, you’ll recognise these as fava beans, essentially they’re the same thing, except technically fava beans tend to refer to the dried versions of the most mature of broad beans.
Like all beans they come from the legume family – sometimes referred to in olden times as ‘poor man’s meat’ because they have high levels of protein. But the nutritional benefits are far greater than that. They are high in fibre, and diets rich in legumes are said to be able to help lower cholesterol levels, improve blood sugar balance and reduce the risk of many cancers. They are also packed with minerals and antioxidants and so great to have in your diet.
Of course, there’s the old adage ‘beans, beans, good for your heart, the more you eat the more ….’ Well, you get the picture… So do they cause wind? Well, there’s a substance in them called oligosaccharides. We can’t absorb these and so they go into the gut undigested where resident bacteria can go to town on them with wind being a by-product. Properly cooking the beans or sprouting them can help reduce these substances and minimise any issues.
If you are vegan, you might want to consider combining them with grains, rice, or nuts and seeds to get a complete protein. And it’s worth being wary of a relatively little-known condition called favism that can cause dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. If you think you suffer from this, they are best avoided, but other than that, they are a great staple to add into your eating plan.
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