Undisputed protagonists of the spring season, broad beans are a true elixir of goodness and health. Rich in fiber, protein, and mineral salts, they are good for the heart, mind, and body. To be enjoyed raw, when they are more tender and sweet, or cooked. In traditional peasant recipes: let’s discover together the properties, benefits, and uses of this prodigious legume.

Broad beans: properties and benefits

Undisputed queens of spring, broad beans are among the most versatile legumes: rich in precious benefits for your body and protagonists of many recipes. From the first harvest, therefore fresh and tender, they are perfect for cheering up lunches and picnics en Plein air: they reveal their sweeter side when paired with cured meats and, above all, according to Tuscan custom, with fresh pecorino (called “baccellone “For this particular vocation of his). Once cooked, however, they give life to recipes that are both simple and rich, mostly belonging to the peasant tradition, or to current and creative reinterpretations.

Where do the beans come from

Native to Asia Minor, the broad bean plant – belonging to the Fabaceae family – has an erect herbaceous stem, slightly branched and up to 1 meter high. The fruit is a large flattened legume, up to 30 centimeters long, which contains these tasty kidney-shaped seeds, of different sizes and colors depending on the variety.

The harvest takes place from April to June. The most cultivated and widespread varieties on the market are the “Superaguadulce”, with large yellowish-green seeds; the “Aguadulce supersonic”, which has very long and supple pods; the “Reina mora”, with purplish seed; the “Baggiana”, very common in southern Italy.

Broad beans: properties and benefits

Among the oldest legumes in Europe, second only to lentils, broad beans were widely consumed by both the Greeks and the Romans. A curiosity: Aristotle recommended their use while Pythagoras, the first important vegetarian of Western culture, forbade them to his disciples. This is because the dark spots of the fava beans were considered symbols of the presence of the souls of the dead and, therefore, signs of hell.

Properties of broad beans

Not only tasty but also a true elixir of well-being. These precious legumes, in fact, contain an excellent quantity of vegetable fibers and proteins (qualitatively superior to beans). Low in fat and rich in water, they are also perfect for those who are attentive to the figure or follow a low-calorie diet (100 grams of fresh broad beans provide about 72 calories). But it doesn’t stop there: broad beans are also an excellent source of mineral salts, especially iron, potassium, magnesium, copper and selenium, and vitamins (in particular vitamin A, K, and folate).

The benefits of broad beans

Counteract anemia

Broad beans contain a good amount of iron (about 1.55 mg per 100 grams), an essential mineral for promoting the proper functioning of the body and the immune system;

Eliminate waste and toxins

The high content of vegetable fibers and water helps intestinal motility and supports kidney function. For these reasons they prove to be the right allies in case of constipation or water retention;

Lower cholesterol

The merit is always of the vegetable fibers, of which the beans are rich. These precious nutrients. In fact, support cardiovascular health and stabilize cholesterol levels in the blood. They would be effective, in particular, in reducing LDL cholesterol, preventing the onset of pathologies such as heart attack and stroke;

Prevent diabetes

The presence of magnesium and, look at it, fiber helps to stabilize the value of blood sugars. The consumption of broad beans is therefore recommended in case of diabetes or hyperglycemia;

Protect the bones

Calcium and manganese, the latter fundamental to support the functionality of the nervous system, endocrine, and immune systems, protect our skeletal system, and prevent arthritis and osteoporosis;

Help the brain

The beans, especially the immature ones, contain Levodopa, a precursor of some substances present in the brain and fundamental for the well-being of the neurological system (this same substance is present as an active ingredient in the main drugs used for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease);

Excellent source of protein

100 grams of fresh fava beans contain about 5.2 grams of protein. Of these, about 30% are rich in lysine, an essential amino acid important in the functioning of the human body;

Perfect for the line

Rich in water and low in fat and carbohydrates, beans are absolutely suitable for those who follow a healthy diet or are trying to lose weight. Combined with a portion of rice or another cereal, preferably wholemeal, we obtain a complete and well-balanced single dish from a nutritional point of view.

Broad beans: properties and benefits

Counteract anemia

Broad beans contain a good amount of iron (about 1.55 mg per 100 grams), an essential mineral for promoting the proper functioning of the body and the immune system;

Eliminate waste and toxins

The high content of vegetable fibers and water helps intestinal motility and supports kidney function. For these reasons they prove to be the right allies in case of constipation or water retention;

Lower cholesterol

The merit is always of the vegetable fibers, of which the beans are rich. These precious nutrients, in fact, support cardiovascular health and stabilize cholesterol levels in the blood. They would be effective, in particular, in reducing LDL cholesterol, preventing the onset of pathologies such as heart attack and stroke;

Prevent diabetes

The presence of magnesium and, look at it, fiber helps to stabilize the value of blood sugars. The consumption of broad beans is therefore recommended in case of diabetes or hyperglycemia;

Protect the bones

Calcium and manganese, the latter fundamental to support the functionality of the nervous system, endocrine, and immune systems, protect our skeletal system, and prevent arthritis and osteoporosis;

Help the brain

The beans, especially the immature ones, contain Levodopa, a precursor of some substances present in the brain and fundamental for the well-being of the neurological system (this same substance is present as an active ingredient in the main drugs used for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease);

excellent source of protein. 100 grams of fresh fava beans contain about 5.2 grams of protein. Of these, about 30% are rich in lysine, an essential amino acid important in the functioning of the human body;

perfect for the line. Rich in water and low in fat and carbohydrates, beans are absolutely suitable for those who follow a healthy diet or are trying to lose weight. Combined with a portion of rice or another cereal, preferably wholemeal, we obtain a complete and well-balanced single dish from a nutritional point of view.

Contraindications

Those who suffer from favism, a hereditary disease that inhibits the production of an enzyme essential to neutralize the negative effects of some substances present in these legumes, must absolutely avoid eating them.

Use in the kitchen

The fresh beans spring, tender and sweet, can be eaten raw, in juxtaposition to bread, meats, or cheeses; always the fresh ones can be eaten throughout the summer but cooked.

The dried broad beans, on the other hand, must naturally be cooked and previously soaked in water (16-18 hours for those with the peel, about 8 hours for those without). With both fresh and dried legumes it is possible to prepare macco. The famous soup is typical of the Sicilian tradition (to be honest there are also versions belonging to other regions of Southern Italy). A direct descendant of the puls Tabata, one of the many polentas that the Roman plebs ate. The macco was the food of the peasants who worked in the fields.

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