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Snap Beans Provide Health Benefits

Looking for a tasty, low-calorie and nutrient-rich snack? The answer is snap beans.

The term “snap bean” comes from the snapping noise of the fibrous string breaking along the seam of the bean pod. Snap beans are long, crisp and bright green.

Snap beans are a class of bean that can be identified in a number of ways. String bean, green bean, French bean, pole bean, bush bean and snap bean all refer to the same legume.

The bean can be purchased in a variety of ways, including fresh, frozen and canned. When purchasing canned beans, make sure to look for a low-sodium label, or simply rinse the canned beans before cooking.

Home canning is a popular method for preserving green beans. The legume must be processed in a pressure canner to avoid any botulism risks. Follow current pressure-canning procedures in the NDSU Extension Service publication “Home Canning Low-acid Vegetables” (FN173).

Otherwise, the snap bean can be rinsed under cool, running water and stored whole in the refrigerator for up to one week.

One cup of fresh green beans has 31 calories and contains a variety of nutrients, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium. Snap beans are classified as a vegetable, which is an important part of a healthful diet.

Why are vitamins and minerals important? Vitamin A helps keep our eyes healthy and our immune system strong, and promotes cell development. Vitamin B also promotes cell growth. In addition, it assists with energy production and protects the nervous system.

Vitamin C is most commonly associated with keeping our immune system strong, but vitamin C also helps our body heal quickly. Vitamin K plays an important role in the clotting of our blood, as well as contributing to calcium production to strengthen our bones.

Folate/folic acid promotes tissue growth and cell development. Folate is especially important for pregnant women to prevent neural tube defects during their pregnancy.

Potassium is an electrolyte that helps maintain fluid balance and keeps your heart healthy. Iron is important for red blood cells and muscles. Lastly, zinc is essential for a healthy immune system and for wound healing.

These nutrients can help reduce the risk of a number of health conditions, such as obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, macular degeneration and an impaired immune system.

Here is a quick recipe that makes a great snack.

Fresh Green Beans With Creamy Basil Dip

½ pound fresh green beans, washed and stemmed
⅓ c. low-fat mayonnaise
2 Tsp. low-fat milk
1 tsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped

Wash beans well and snap off ends. Mix together all of the ingredients for the dip, leaving out the green beans for dipping. Keep everything refrigerated until just before serving time.

Makes four servings. Each serving has 35 calories, 0.5 grams (g) fat, 1 g protein, 7 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber and 160 milligrams sodium.

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Sources: Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Service food and nutrition specialist, and McKenzie Schaffer, Extension program assistant

This project was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant 14-SCBGP-ND-0038. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.

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