Featured Ingredient

The Holiday Veggie that Brings a Wealth of Nutrients

By Maddy Davis, R.D. 

For many people in the United States, green beans are closely tied to the holidays. They make an annual appearance on holiday tables around the country in casseroles or sautés and may not be seen again until the next holiday season. But because green beans have so much to offer in health benefits, flavor, and uses, they can easily be incorporated into any number of dishes throughout the year.

Did you know that green beans are actually the young, unripe pods of many common beans? Though they are the same plant, green beans have a totally different flavor profile and even some different nutrients and health benefits than their more mature relatives. Green beans are a low-calorie, nutrient-packed legume high in vitamins A, C, K, B6, as well as folic acid and fiber. Certain clinical studies have determined links between green bean consumption and better control of diabetes, improvements in prenatal care, weight loss, and improved digestion.

As a great source of folic acid, green beans are an important staple for prenatal care. Folic acid plays a key role in the human body, especially during pregnancy, where it works to prevent neural tube defects and promotes healthy fetus development. Incorporating more folate-rich foods such as green beans into your diet can help to maintain proper folic acid levels during any stage of life.

For many people, maintaining enough fiber in their diet can be a challenge. Dietary fiber aids in digestion by promoting smoother bowel movements, which helps to prevent constipation. Fiber is also an important factor in the fight against diabetes as the fiber in food helps to maintain consistent blood glucose levels in the body. Green beans have been shown to help aid in managing diabetes due to their high fiber content, making them an ideal choice for controlling blood sugar levels. Additionally, fiber-rich diets have been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol levels by helping our bodies reduce excessive cholesterol levels within the blood.

Green beans are a versatile vegetable with a wealth of nutrients and health benefits. They can be found year round, and whether they are fresh, frozen, or canned, they are a simple, easy to prepare vegetable that can be used in a variety of delicious dishes.

  • To prepare fresh green beans, wash with water, remove the strings, and trim the ends.
  • Add green beans into a stir-fry or grilled salads to enhance color and flavor.
  • Boost flavor in a typical green bean sauté by adding in fresh herbs, nuts, seeds, or other flavorful vegetables, such as fennel, garlic, or onions.
  • Create an Asian-inspired side dish by sautéing green beans in sesame oil and soy sauce.

Add color and nutrients to your meal by serving green beans with cremini mushrooms and caramelized onions as the perfect compliment to your dinnertime dish. Download the full recipe by clicking here.