Green beans are low in calories but high in fiber, making them very healthy. However, the beans are always cooked and for good reason. Not every vegetable is healthiest raw and that also applies to the green bean. The green bean only becomes edible with the right treatment. How dangerous raw beans are is often underestimated.

pods and beans

The garden bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) can be processed either in the green state including the pod or as a ripe bean. No matter how ripe they are, you should never eat the bean uncooked. In this state is like toxic. However, beans are also rich in important ingredients. These include, for example:

  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Phosphor
  • Vitamins

Toxic ingredients

Raw beans in particular are highly toxic. The toxic substances are not only contained in the seeds, the beans, but in all parts of the plant. The concentration is only a little weaker when it is very young. During this time there is also a risk that they will be eaten by snails. With increasing age, the concentration of toxic ingredients increases, which means that even snails no longer dare to touch it.

The beans mainly contain the following toxic lectins:

  • Toxalbumin
  • Phasin

The dangerous thing about these lectins is that they don’t act directly on the stomach and cause immediate nausea when you eat them, but rather on the blood. Specifically, lectins ensure that the red blood cells clump together. This effect was or is used in some countries for poison bait against rats. Although the lectins are mostly produced synthetically, the effect is the same as with the garden bean.

symptoms of poisoning

Due to the fact that the lectins primarily affect the blood, it takes a relatively long time, compared to other toxins, before typical symptoms of poisoning appear. Other toxins usually take effect after half an hour to an hour, with the lectins in Phaseolus vulgaris it can take up to three hours.

The following symptoms can occur:

  • nausea
  • stomach pain
  • Vomit
  • bloody diarrhea
  • fever
  • chills
  • seizures

How large the amount of green beans must be for poisoning to occur cannot be precisely determined. The basic rule is that if the body weight is low, a small amount of toxins is sufficient for poisoning.

Note: According to experts, five to six raw beans are enough to trigger symptoms of poisoning in children.

First aid

Green bean poisoning is not to be underestimated. If you have eaten uncooked green beans, the first thing to do is drink fluids such as water. Since even small amounts are dangerous, contact your family doctor immediately. Alternatively, you can call the poison control center and discuss how to proceed with experts. As a rule, in the case of smaller amounts, the poisoning is treated with charcoal tablets. For larger amounts, only a medically accompanied poison removal helps.

Correct preparation

Lectins can be neutralized very easily by cooking raw beans or dried beans for a period of time. A cooking time of ten minutes at 70°C is sufficient for green beans. If you continue to process the beans later, always change the cooking water. The cooking water has an unpleasant taste.

Drying or freezing cannot destroy the lectins. In Switzerland, for example, there are dried green beans, which still contain toxic ingredients and should only be eaten cooked. The same goes for frozen green beans. These are usually pre-blanched, which allows you to reduce the cooking time by two to four minutes.

Dangerous preparation methods

Especially the trend to prepare vegetables as gently as possible can be dangerous with green beans. For example, instead of cooking them sufficiently at the right temperature, they are fried briefly or simply cooked with them. For smaller quantities, where the green beans are not the main part of a dish, this is not a problem.

However, if it is a bean dish, you must cook the beans for health reasons. Since the cooking water or the liquid that comes out does not taste particularly good when boiling Phaseolus vulgaris, it generally does not make sense to cook it.

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