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Magic Green Beans

 Spare Change News (USA) 04 June 2019

Spare Change News vendor and Executive Director of the Nutrient Education Outreach Project in Cambridge Massachusetts, Robert Sondak, shares his knowledge and experience on the culinary and dietary benefits of a healthy and cost effective diet. In this segment Sondak discusses the many benefits and impact of a green beans rich diet. (652 words) - By Robert Sondak

CAMBRIDGE, USA - Green beans are a vegetable that is available year round in Boston and Cambridge. They come in many sizes, shapes and colors, though they are specifically called green beans. This vegetable has a long, rich history dating back some 5,000 years. Green Beans were born in the hot regions of Mexico and Central America. They were later introduced to France by the Conquistadors in around 1597. The French were the first society to put green beans on their menus. Green Beans migrated north from their homeland when Texas became a state in the early 1800's. The three largest commercial producers of the vegetable today are the United States, China and Japan.

Green beans are at their peak in the summer. From late May through September you can buy green beans in plentiful amounts at the Harvest Cooperative Markets, Demoula's Market Basket, Stop and Shop, Star/Shaw's and Whole Foods. If you take the subway to Boston you can also buy green beans at Haymarket on Friday and Saturday. Green beans sold at Haymarket come from Florida. These vegetables are usually emerald green in color, though they occasionally appear in yellow; the beans come to a slight point at the tip.

Green beans are very tender, succulent and flavorful. They are a low fat food and are a moderate calorie vegetable at 43 calories per cup. They are a major source of nutrients, in particular vitamin C (important for bones and muscles), vitamin K (necessary for blood clotting), beta-carotene (vegetarian vitamin A), folate  (important for the production and division of new cells), and potassium. The mineral potassium plays a major role in blood sugar maintenance and in lowering blood pressure.

Green beans may also help to prevent colon cancer. The vitamin C and beta-carotene in green beans may help to slow down free radical buildup. This chemical process may help to stop cellular damage and prevent cancer

Green beans are also an excellent source of carotenoids. Research conducted by scientists has shown that green beans contain the phyto-nutrients lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin provide nutritional support to the eyes by filtering out high energy light, especially short wavelengths that appear blue, and reduce the risk for macular degeneration.

Green beans can be bought fresh, canned or frozen. The two forms of green beans that I recommend are fresh and frozen. Canned green beans are inferior in taste and quality, though I do recommend Whole Foods canned organic vegetables.

Green beans are traditionally referred to as string beans and they are sometimes colloquially called snap beans. Haricots verts refer to French green beans. These green beans are longer and thinner than American green beans. They are tender and have more flavor than their American twin.

I prefer to cook green beans rather than to eat them raw, and I prefer steaming or sautéing as methods for cooking. Boiling tends to destroy the body of the vegetables along with their flavor. Steaming takes 10 minutes for fresh green beans. I made green beans last year as part of a food demonstration at the Harvest Food Pantry located at the Cambridgeport Baptist Church. At this demo, I cooked the green beans (which were of the American variety) and let them cool for 2 minutes. I then added freshly squeezed lemon along with ground black pepper. The aroma of them lasted for nearly one hour. On another occasion, I sautéed fresh American green beans at the Ruby Rogers Community and Advocacy Center with stewed tomatoes along with basil and black pepper for 12 to 15 minutes. I let the stewed tomatoes get very warm and then added the herbs. I cooked this concoction for 1 to 2 more minutes and then served the green beans warm.

If you can get fresh Massachusetts or organic green beans the taste is outstanding! In combination with other vegetables, seasonings and herbs, green beans are an excellent addition to any meal.


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