Fava beans, also appreciated because among the less caloric legumes, they can boast other properties that concern health and not only the line and the swimsuit. They have always been considered a food for the poor, as well as other legumes such as lentils and beans, and indeed, at least in our area, this food has a low cost that goes hand in hand with simple availability.
What more could you ask for? In fact, the fruits of a plant native to Asia Minor for centuries widely cultivated for human and animal nutrition, are nowadays frequent visitors to Italian tables, particularly in Puglia, Sicily and Sardinia.
Broad beans: what they are
Notes like Vicia faba L. or Faba vulgaris, in scientific jargon, and belonging to the family of Fabaceae, the Fava beans they are produced by an annual herbaceous plant that grows up to 140 cm in height. It has an erect and thick stem, very branched at the base, the root also very branched and a fleshy and cylindrical pod.
Then there are the yellowish-brownish seeds, flat, oval, large and pulpy. There are numerous varieties, classified according to the size of the seed. There is the broad beans (equine Pers) which is among the most used especially for animal feed as well as field bean (minor Beck) whose pod can also contain 1,000 seeds and weigh 700 grams.
Broad beans: calories
The F. are presented, as "good" legumes, very rich in proteins and energy. One hundred grams of dried broad beans contains 341 calories and provides many antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and plant sterols. Compared to other legumes such as lentils and beans, cheap and protein, they are a lot less caloric, an aspect that leads many to become curious and taste them in various recipes. We will see examples, but first, the properties.
Broad beans: nutritional values
Respect to beans we discover that the f. they are even qualitatively superior in protein terms even if quantitatively lower. The percentage of protein is around 5%, like that of fiber, then there is 4.5% of carbohydrates and very little fat (0.4%). The rest? It is made up of water.
Leaving aside the numbers, it must be said that these legumes are very rich in iron, potassium, magnesium, copper, selenium and many vitamins. We wait to rejoice too much, however, because most of the vitamins and mineral salts are lost with cooking. This does not happen only for Fava beans but for all legumes.
Broad beans: properties
For the wealth in iron, cooking or not cooking, the f. however, they are useful in combating anemia, they are also rich in dietary fiber, which acts as a sort of natural laxative and helps protect the mucous membrane of the colon, reducing the time of exposure to toxic substances. Again thanks to the fibers, the f. contribute to reduce blood cholesterol levels.
These legumes also have a good content of phytonutrients, such as isoflavones which should have a good effect on the ability to protect us from breast cancer. They also contain considerable amounts of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin and niacin, are elements that act as coenzymes in the cellular metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
As we have already mentioned, the broad beans are excellent sources of minerals such as iron, copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, potassium. I cannot remain silent about the existence of favism: it is a genetic condition related to the enzymatic deficiency of G-6PD (glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase). Translated, the result is the impairment of the blood's ability to carry oxygen. If you are subject to the favism, better to avoid the bean and get over it, as well as those who are predisposed to urinary stones.
Fresh broad beans
The Fava beans they can be eaten cooked or raw, we have seen that cooking them impoverishes them, but this should not limit us. However, they are also precious when cooked, the important thing is that we also like them. They can be found both dry and fresh on the market, the fresh ones can be eaten on their own or usedand together with bread, cold cuts or cheeses.
They are a simple but tasty and nutritious dish. Alternatives that are always readily available in common grocery stores are the canned beans and frozen ones, much more practical than dry ones.
Dried broad beans
They are certainly the most "complicated" way to consume broad beans but there are also some comforts in their use. Collected and removed the integument that surrounds them, broad beans they can be dried to be stored for a long time knowing that, unlike other legumes, they do not require time soaking before use in the kitchen. In fact, just dip them into boiling water directly, or steam them. By proceeding along the dried broad beans route, a puree is obtained which accompanies and compensates bitter vegetables such as chicory.
If we do not remove the integument, the dried broad beans they need a few hours of soaking before cooking, let's remember, as not to forget is the fact that the drying process alters the vitamin and mineral component. Speaking of drying, bean leaves can also be dried using them in herbal medicine such as natural remedy to stimulate diuresis.
Broad beans: recipes
Of recipes with there are thousands of beans, and I am not exaggerating: they are legumes that are well suited to the flavors of others and the Italian tradition realized this many years ago, giving us extraordinary dishes.
A practical and tasty example, staying with your feet on the ground and your legs under the table set every day, here is the recipe for fresh pasta with broad beans. To better present it, we can call it "Quadrucci con le fave", to find out why this name and how to prepare them, I recommend the article "Fresh pasta with broad beans”
Broad bean flour
Low in lipids and with a percentage of carbohydrates much lower than that of other flours, that of broad beans is worth knowing and learning how to prepare and use. We can learn more by reading the dedicated article "Broad bean flour". I forgot that this flour has a very high amount of fiber, perfect for those who want restore your intestinal flora and regulate blood cholesterol levels. If you weren't convinced, now I bet you will read what it is.
Broad bean husks: how to recycle them
To recycle the bean husks the compost bucket is not the only option we have, even in the kitchen we can find tasty recipes that have them as ingredients. Here are tasty examples in the article "Recycle the bean peels”
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You may also be interested in the following articles:
- Favism: disease and symptoms
- Legumes: complete list and properties
- How to grow green beans
- Foods rich in potassium