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The Great Green Bean

Green beans are a food that our society typically doesn't eat enough of. They are a great source of folate, a very important B vitamin that helps to prevent neural tube defects and helps to lower homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is a naturally occurring amino acid that can do harm to the blood vessels and can contribute to the development of heart disease, stroke, dementia, and peripheral vascular disease (reduced blood flow to the legs and feet).

Green beans also contain an abundance of other vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, vitamin A, potassium, manganese, beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin K, and fiber. Manganese is important for growth, reproduction, healing wounds, peak brain function, and the proper metabolism of sugars, insulin, and cholesterol. Lutein and zeaxanthin are beta carotenes that are particularly good for vision and eye health. Vitamin K is an important vitamin for bone health. And one cup of green beans will provide about four grams of fiber, which is better than the average slice of bread. Green bean's high fiber content is a big part of why they help to lower and maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Fiber also helps prevent blood sugar levels from rising too quickly after eating, which makes them a great food for diabetics and those with hypoglycemia.

Green beans also contribute to a healthy heart, both due to the cholesterol-lowering effects of fiber, but also to the high amounts of antioxidants and nutrients that they contain. The folic acid and B6 found in these beans help to lower homocysteine levels, which is, as mentioned above, harmful to the body. Green beans also help to protect against cancer due to their antioxidant and high nutrient content.

Choose beans that are dark green, firm, and glossy, free of blemishes, wrinkling, or yellowing. If you choose to buy frozen green beans, shake the container to make sure that the beans move freely and do not seem to be clumped together, because when they are clumped together it suggests that they have been thawed then refrozen. Try to consume fresh or frozen green beans, as canned green beans are processed and don't contain the same nutrients and health benefits. Furthermore, canned beans contain higher amounts of sodium and often contain additives.

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