[caption id="attachment_4385" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="French beans"][/caption]
Scientifically French beans are known as Phaseolus vulgaris whereas the other names which they are commonly known as green beans, runner beans, climbing beans, wax beans, etc. They are defined as the unripe fruits of any kind of beans, especially common beans, the pods of which are known as string beans. Though they are typically referred to as string beans, many of their contemporary varieties no longer have fibrous strings that were once a common feature of the earlier varieties. The size of French beans is about four inches in length and has a slight point at both their ends. The color of the French beans is deep emerald and tiny seeds can be found within their pods.
French beans are said to have originated in South and Central America. The cultivation of French beans was started 7000 years ago, by the Indian tribes settled in Tehuacan Valley of Mexico and in Callejon de Huaylas, Peru. When Christopher Columbus returned from his second voyage to the New World in the year 1493, he brought French beans with him in the Mediterranean region. French beans were considered to be rare to find and expensive but soon became one of the commonly used beans in the 19th century. In France, French beans were introduced in the year 1597 by the Conquistadors.
French beans are very sensitive to frost but cannot stand hot conditions either. Thus, ideally, they can be grown in the frost free portion of the year. The ideal temperature for the growth of French beans is between 15°C to 27°C while the minimum temperature required for the germination of seeds of French beans is 10°C. French beans can grow in a variety of soils but are highly sensitive to high boron content in soils. Green beans are found in two major groups, bush beans and pole beans. Bush beans are short plants, growing to approximately two feet in height, without requiring supports.
There are over 130 varieties of snap bean that are known. Varieties specialized for use as green beans, selected for the succulence and flavor of their pods, are the ones usually grown in the home vegetable garden, and many varieties exist. Pod color can be green, golden, purple, red, or streaked. Shapes range from thin "fillet" types to wide "romano" types and more common types in between. French Haricots verts (green beans) are bred for flavorful pods.
Green beans are often steamed, boiled, stir-fried, or baked in casseroles. A dish with green beans popular throughout the United States, particularly at Thanksgiving, is green bean casseroles, which consists of green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and french fried onions. In southern India normally there are cooked with freshly grated coconut giving a delicious taste to the beans fry or added in sambar. French beans are a healthy option for many health conscious people as they are rich in many vital nutrients that are considered essential for the proper growth and metabolism of the body.
The various nutrients that are found in French beans are: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Riboflavin, Niacin, Thiamine, Vitamin K, Folate and Pantotheinic Acid. Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium and Zinc, Carbohydrates, Dietary Fibers, Water, Sugar, Protein, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, etc.
The major health benefits that are found in French beans: They are filled with healthy dietary fibers that help in the prevention of cholesterol. These fibers are also beneficial for diabetic people as they help in preventing the sugar levels from rising up immediately after having a meal.
French beans are also helpful in energizing the body as they are rich in iron, the nutrients found in hemoglobin which helps in giving energy to the body. The presence of copper in French beans, in turn, helps in the proper synthesis of hemoglobin. They also help in improving the immune system of the body as they are a rich source of Vitamin C. This vitamin helps in stimulating the white cells to fight against infection by directly killing the bacteria and viruses responsible for these infections.
It has been observed that people suffering from severe migraine attacks can benefit from eating French beans as they are a very good source of riboflavin, the source that helps in mitigating migraine attacks. French beans have many anti-inflammatory nutrients like beta-carotene and, of course, Vitamin C. These nutrients help in preventing many disease and ailments where there are chances of inflammation, such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. They also contribute in preventing fatal diseases like colon cancer.
Nutritional values per 100 g (3.5 oz) of French beans are:
Energy: 129 kJ (31 kcal)
Carbohydrates: 7 g
Sugars: 1.4 g
Dietary fiber: 3.4 g
Fat: 0.1 g
Protein: 1.8 g
Vitamin A equiv.: 35 μg (4%)
Vitamin C: 16 mg (27%)
Calcium: 37 mg (4%)