Beans, Green, String or Haricots Verts...
Green beans and other beans, such are kidney beans, navy beans and black beans are all known scientifically as Phaseolus vulgaris. They are all referred to as "common beans," probably owing to the fact that they all derived from a common bean ancestor that originated in Peru. From there, they spread throughout South and Central America by migrating Indian tribes. They were introduced into Europe around the 16th century by Spanish explorers returning from their voyages to the New World, and subsequently were spread through many other parts of the world by Spanish and Portuguese traders. Today, the largest commercial producers of fresh green beans include Argentina, China, Egypt, France, Indonesia, India, Iraq, Italy, France, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United States.
Haricot vert is French for green beans. Haricot meaning beans and vert meaning green. French green beans are longer and thinner than most American varieties. They are also more tender and have a more complex flavor. For the most part, they are interchangeable with American green beans which are also called string beans or snap beans. If your recipe specifies haricot vert and you are unable to find them, substitute with the thinnest young green beans you can find.
Green beans (referred to as "string beans" by the study authors) have recently been shown to have impressive antioxidant capacity. Research comparing the overall antioxidant capacity of green beans to other foods in the pea and bean families (for example, snow peas or winged beans) has found green beans to come out on top, even though green beans are not always highest in their concentration of specific antioxidant nutrients like phenolic acids or vitamin C. It's not surprising to find recent studies highlighting the antioxidant capacity of green beans! Researchers now know that the list of antioxidant flavonoids found in green beans is not limited to quercetin and kaemferol but also includes flavonoids like catechins, epicatechins, and procyanidins.
Green beans may be a particularly helpful food for providing us with the mineral silicon. This mineral — while less well known that minerals like calcium and magnesium — is very important for bone health and for healthy formation of connective tissue. Green beans have recently been shown to stack up quite well against other commonly-eaten foods as a good source of absorbable silicon.
Tips for Preparing Green Beans
Just prior to using the green beans, wash them under running water. Remove both ends of the beans by either snapping them off or cutting them with a knife.
The Healthiest Way of Cooking Green Beans
We recommend Healthy Steaming green beans for maximum flavor and nutrition. Fill the bottom of a steamer pot with 2 inches of water. While waiting for the water to come to a boil, rinse green beans. It is best to cook green beans whole for even cooking. Steam for 5 minutes and toss with our Mediterranean Dressing and top with your favorite optional ingredients. For details see, 5-Minute Green Beans.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
Green beans are a classic ingredient in Salade Nicoise, a French cold salad dish that combines steamed green beans with tuna fish and potatoes. (You can buy fresh tuna at the Extras Store!)
Healthy sauté green beans with shiitake mushrooms.
Prepare the perennial favorite, green beans almondine, by sprinkling slivered almonds on healthy sautéed beans.
Haricots Verts Lyonnaise
Feisty Green Beans
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