Fava beans might not be the first legume that comes to mind when you’re planning a meal, but you should consider stocking up on them. They not only taste great, but contain a whole lot of health benefits!
With their bright green pods and nutty, almost cheesy flavor, one cup of fava beans (also known as broad beans) will provide you with a high amount of helpful nutrients like protein, fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, and selenium. You’ll be chowing down on vitamins A, E, K, beta carotenes, polyphenols, and fatty acids, too. Not too shabby for a few small beans!
Fava Bean Health Benefits
When it comes to specific perks, the polyphenols in fava beans are known to rev up the legume’s antioxidant activity. This means they can not only fight off free radicals that try to damage the cells throughout our body, but also boost our immunity and protect us from diseases.
One study found that extract from fava beans increased the antioxidant activity in lung cells by an impressive 62.5 percent. Other research claims the phenolic compounds enhanced one particular antioxidant known as glutathione, which shows promise in delaying cellular aging.
Fava beans are also chock full of minerals like manganese and copper. These are two essential nutrients when it comes to strengthening our bones and warding off age-related bone loss. Studies specifically observing post-menopausal women found that these minerals improved bone density and kept it from declining over time.
We’ve got good news for anyone who’s hoping to shed a few pounds, too. The high protein and fiber content in fava beans — 13.1 grams and 9.25 grams of each per cup — will work together to increase the feeling of fullness (which will help ward off between-meal snacking). Bonus: The fiber can bind to cholesterol to balance the good and bad levels out, too. Your blood pressure might thank you as well, with the magnesium and potassium relaxing blood vessels and keeping those numbers from spiking.
You may have heard reports that another compound in fava beans called levodopa (L-dopa) can help patients with Parkinson’s disease manage tremors and improve motor function. Although the exact same compound is used in medications prescribed for the condition, the amount found in fava beans is minimal in comparison. The Cleveland Clinic claims it would be difficult for anyone to realistically ever consume enough L-dopa from the legume to get any of the same benefits in this case.
Like any other legume, fava beans are versatile to cook with and include as a side for any meal. They taste great boiled until tender, grilled in their pods, mashed onto to toast, and more. (You can find some creative options from the pros at Food and Wine magazine).
Whatever way you go, you’ll be able to enjoy delicious flavor and a ton of healthy perks!