Fava beans treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, prevent birth defects, improves bone health, manages blood pressure, helps lower cholesterol levels, promote heart health, versatile and easy to add to your diet, boosts immunity and provides energy.
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What are Fava Beans?
Fava beans, also known by other names, such as broad beans, faba beans, and Vicia faba, belong to the family of pea and beans, which is Fabaceae. They come in various forms and varieties, including in pods, dried, canned, and frozen. They have been a popular part of the Middle Eastern diet, mainly because of their rich protein content; but have gained widespread attention all over the world for their slightly sweet and earthy flavor, and of course, the health benefits, which we will learn about in detail below.
11 Amazing Health Benefits of Fava Beans
Given their rich nutrient content, fava beans have many benefits such as treating Parkinson’s disease, preventing birth defects, improving bone health, and fighting anemia. Let’s take a detailed look at them below.
Treat the Symptoms of Parkinson’s
Fava beans, given their rich L-dopa and C-dopa content, help improve the motor performance in those suffering from Parkinson’s disease by increasing the blood dopamine levels. These beans can also be combined with other Parkinson’s disease medications like carbidopa for an improvement in symptoms. Having said that, it is important not to replace your medically prescribed drugs for Parkinson’s disease with fava beans, as more research on this topic is still needed.
May Prevent Birth Defects
Fava beans have a huge supply of folate. Folate is one of the most important nutrients for fetal growth. It helps in the creation of cells and organs for the fetus, thereby preventing the risk of neural tube defects. Women who get an ample supply of folate in the first few months of their pregnancy have a markedly lower risk of spinal cord and brain issues in their infants, thereby making broad beans a good dietary option for them.
Improve Bone Health
Fava beans, being rich in manganese, copper, zinc, and calcium, are known to help improve bone health. Manganese helps in reducing calcium deficiency in the body, thereby reducing the risk of bone-related ailments like osteoporosis and bone loss in older women.
May Help Fight Anemia
Due to the high iron content in fava beans, they help fight the symptoms of anemia, such as tiredness, weakness, shortness of breath and more. Iron promotes the production of hemoglobin in the body which helps in carrying oxygen to your cells. Hence, regular consumption of fava beans may help prevent anemia too. Although an important point to note here is that those suffering from a G6PD deficiency, should not consume these beans as they may lead to another blood disorder called hemolytic anemia.
Manage Blood Pressure
Given the high manganese and potassium content in fava beans, they can help in managing your blood pressure. Foods high in manganese and potassium are known to relax the blood vessels and lower high blood pressure, also lowering the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
May Promote Weight Loss
One cup or 170-gram serving of fava beans contain around 180 calories, which makes them a good food option for those looking to lose weight. They also have a rich supply of protein and fiber, which helps improve the feeling of fullness in your stomach thereby curbing the need or urge to eat more.
Help Lower Cholesterol Levels
Fava beans are rich in soluble fiber, which helps in binding and removing cholesterol from your body. Soluble fiber helps in decreasing the LDL cholesterol and glucose levels in the body.
Fava beans are a rich source of copper, which is an important mineral to regulate the production and growth of healthy blood cells. Copper also promotes the functioning of white blood cells, which destroy the disease-causing pathogens in the body. Fava beans can promote antioxidant or free-radical fighting abilities in people as they age.
B vitamins are important for energy metabolism, and folate plays a crucial role in this aspect. The beans are also a good source of iron, which is essential for our body to produce red blood cells and their energy currency, ATP (adenosine triphosphate). We all know the fatigue iron deficiency can cause. The fiber in the beans can also fill you up quickly. This means it leads to a gradual increase in blood sugar levels, offering a steady supply of energy.
Promote Heart Health
The magnesium in fava beans has a role to play here. The nutrient can lower blood pressure levels, which is one major cause of heart disease in the world today. And the fiber in fava beans also helps – the soluble fiber in the beans helps lower bad cholesterol levels in the blood.
Versatile and Easy to Add to Your Diet
Fava beans can be a delicious addition to meals and snacks. Cooked fava beans can be added to salads, rice dishes, risottos, pasta, soups, and pizzas.
Side Effects of Fava Beans
It is important to exercise moderation while consuming fava beans as an excess of them can have some side effects.
Vitamin B6 Deficiency
Fava beans can cause depression if taken in excess. This is due to the presence of L-dopa in them, which although beneficial for health, in excess can cause a vitamin B6 deficiency.
They may also have some drug interactions, so if you’re taking medicines for depression, then it is best to consult your doctor before adding these beans to your diet.
Another point to note is that these beans should not be consumed if you have a G6PD deficiency, as already mentioned above.
Broad beans can also cause an allergic reaction to some people, so be cautious while adding them to your diet.
While the side effects of these beans are rare, they are very much possible, so please see a medical professional if you feel uncomfortable after eating them.
Therefore, to conclude, include fava beans in your diet for the best results!
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