Fava bean with the botanical name viciafaba is a flowering plant from the fabaceae family. It is a legume. It is now commonly known as broad bean and cultivated all over the world. The plant is highly resistant and has the ability to withstand all climatic conditions and grow. The plant normally grows well in loamy soil.
Fava bean is a high energy food with good amounts of carbohydrates and protein. It contains many vitamins and minerals. The nutrients present in 100 gm. raw fava bean are:
Energy 341 calories, carbohydrates 58.29 gm. Dietary fiber 25 gm. fat 1.53 gm. Protein 26.12 gm.
It contains high levels of folate and other vitamins. In 100 gm. beans, 423 mg folate equal to 106% of Recommended Daily Amount (RDA), thiamin 0.555 mg (48% RDA), riboflavin 0.333 mg (28% RDA), niacin 2.832 mg (19% RDA), vitamin B(6) 0.36 mg (28% RDA), vitamin K 9 mg (9% RDA) and vitamin C 1.4 mg (2% RDA) are present.
Mineral content in the same quantity of fava beans is: Manganese 1.626 mg (77% RDA), phosphorous 421 mg (60% RDA), magnesium 192 mg (54% RDA), iron 6.7 mg (52% RDA), zinc 3.14 mg (33% RDA), potassium 1062 mg (23% RDA), calcium 1.3 mg (10% RDA) and sodium 13 mg (1% RDA).
Health benefits of Fava beans
Fava bean is a high energy substitute food with many vitamins and minerals providing significant health benefits. Some of them are:
Fava beans contain high levels of dietary fiber that lowers the glucose level in the blood and LDL cholesterol level. Manganese present in it at 77% RDA improves heart health. Being a legume it is heart friendly. Fiber in this bean cleans the colon flushing out toxins. By reducing bad cholesterol and sugar in the blood, it also prevents heart diseases.
The rich insoluble fiber in fava beans promotes the functioning of the digestive system and prevents accumulation of fat by excreting fat from the body. Though fava bean is a high calorie diet, it not only lowers cholesterol but also prevents from gaining weight and obesity. High levels of protein and dietary fiber decrease fat levels in the body facilitating weight loss.
Prevents Parkinson’s disease
L-dopa (levodopa) present in fava bean is an important chemical used in treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Good amounts of L-dopa present in fava beans reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and prevents the disease.
Maintains blood pressure
Potassium present in fava bean is equal to 23% RDA which when combined with 25 gm. of dietary fiber reduces the blood pressure level and regulates functioning of the heart. Also, since fava bean is low in fat with no cholesterol it keeps the blood pressure under control.
Helps DNA synthesis
Fava bean provides high value of folate at 423 microgram equal to 106% RDA in just 100 mg. serving. Folate is an essential compound required for DNA synthesis and cell division. This DNA synthesis is vital for pregnant women. Starting from the conception stage, folate helps in preventing neural tube defects in the new born.
Helps in digestion
Reasonably good amounts of vitamin B (6), Pyridoxine, thiamine (B-1), riboflavin and niacin present in fava bean perform as co – enzymes in the metabolism enhancing digestion of carbohydrates, protein and fat. Manganese in fava bean also help the metabolism process.
Reduction of cholesterol
Rich dietary fiber in fava bean has the potential to decrease the re-absorption of cholesterol binding bile acids in the colon. This in turn reduces the cholesterol level in blood. Phytonutrient, isoflavone and plant sterols present also help lower the cholesterol level.
Manganese in fava bean help in preventing arthritis, osteoporosis and diabetes. Severity of the pre-menstrual syndrome is also reduced. Manganese supports the nerve and immune system. Dietary fiber prevents colon cancer.
Iron present at 52% RDA in 100 gm. of the bean makes it an important substitute food. This is because iron is the most important constituent required to purify the blood by transporting oxygen from the heart to tissues. In addition, this helps improvement of the hemoglobin level in the blood and prevents anemia and neurological problems.
As the iron in fava bean is present in non-heme form, consuming vitamin C rich diet along with fava bean can be helpful in improving the absorption of iron.
How to consume
You can use fava bean as a fresh vegetable or as dry beans. Mostly dry beans have longer shelf life and you can use them in cooking. However, you may be able to enjoy the rich natural flavor only when you consume it as a fresh bean. You can soak fava bean in water to make it soft and then cook it. Remove the husk around the bean before cooking. You can consume it as a salad or by adding it to various dishes.
As any other Brassica group vegetable, fava bean also contains oxalic acid which has the potential to crystalize into oxalic stones in the urinary tract. Hence those diagnosed with kidney stones must avoid fava bean.