Haricot beans, also known as navy beans, white beans, pea beans etc are small, dry and oval shaped beans that are commonly used for making baked beans, pies and soups. Originally from South America, it was introduced in Europe in 15th century. The popularity of these beans started when they became a staple food of the American navy long back. Although mild flavored, this bean is a great source of high quality protein. Unlike other types of legumes that lose their nutritive value when canned, navy beans are known to retain their high nutrition even in the canned form. Since it is packed with nutrients, the haricot bean is considered a complete food, making it a healthy addition to your regular diet.
Navy Beans Nutrition Information
Although haricot beans are high in calories, they are low in fat and cholesterol. They are also rich in protein and dietary fiber content. What are Navy beans good for? It’s the impressive list of vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin K, and B group vitamins like thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, folate and vitamin B6. The intake of these beans provides your body with a supply of essential minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, fluoride and selenium.
Some quick nutrition facts: A cup of cooked navy beans would offer three fourth of daily requirement of fibers, two third of daily requirement of folate, half of daily requirement of Manganese and copper and one third of daily requirement of phosphorus, Vitamin B1 and protein and one fourth of daily requirement of iron and magnesium!
How haricot beans benefits your health
Besides being a rich protein source, haricot beans are also an excellent source of dietary fiber that lower cholesterol, support digestive health and prevent unnecessary spikes in the blood glucose levels. Additionally, the presence of high amounts of nutrients like vitamins and minerals make this legume a must-have food item in your daily diet. Here are some of the health benefits of haricot beans:
Navy bean as antioxidant
Haricot beans are full of antioxidants that protect the cells in your body from the damages caused by free radicals. Free radicals cause oxidative stress to the cells leading to many chronic health problems and degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia etc. In addition to offering protection against many diseases, the antioxidants in navy beans may also offer other benefits such as preventing premature aging of the skin. Aging signs such as wrinkles and fine lines are often caused by enzymes called metalloproteinases that are produced when your body is exposed to sunlight. Some of these enzymes destroy the elastin and collagen fibers, resulting in wrinkles and fine lines on the skin. Navy beans also contain protein and minerals like zinc and copper, which can also help prevent premature aging of the skin.
[Read more about benefits of Adzuki beans]
Harricot beans improve digestive health
The high levels of dietary fiber found in navy beans are extremely beneficial for your digestive system. Inside the digestive tract, the soluble fiber forms a gel like substance that combines with bile and cholesterol and eliminates it from the body. Dietary fiber also helps in increasing stool bulk and in normalizing the bowel movements, which further aids in preventing constipation and other digestive disorders such as diverticulosis and irritable bowel syndrome.
Did you know? Navy beans in hindi is often known as white rajma. Another name for navy beans include - Boston beans, pea beans, and Yankee beans.
Navy beans reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems
According to researchers, the higher intake of legumes is associated with a tremendous decrease in heart attack incidents. In addition to having good amounts of fiber, navy beans are also a great source of heart healthy nutrients likes magnesium, potassium and folate. Homocysteine is an amino acid formed as an intermediate product of metabolic processes. High levels of this amino acid in the blood increases the risks of heart attack, stroke, or peripheral vascular diseases. Folate in navy beans helps in lowering the levels of homocysteine, thus reducing the risks of heart problems. Potassium in navy beans deals with nerve transmission and contraction of muscles including the heart muscles. Potassium is a vasodilator that helps in maintaining the blood pressure and normal functioning of the heart. Magnesium improves the flow of blood and the transport of oxygen and other nutrients to the various parts of the body. A deficiency of magnesium is associated with an increased risk of heart attack as well as damage to the heart by free radicals. So by providing all these nutrients, haricot beans serve as an excellent food source that protects your heart.
[Read more about benefits of Lima beans]
Haricot beans stabilizes blood sugar levels
One of the many benefits of dietary fiber intake is that it helps in stabilizing your insulin and blood sugar levels. Navy beans, being rich in fiber are thus considered to be an ideal food choice for people suffering from diabetes. These legumes also have low glycemic index (31), which means that they are slowly digested and assimilated and hence do not produce unnecessary changes in your blood glucose levels.
Navy beans offer weight loss benefits
The carbohydrates in the food you eat leads to a rise in the blood sugar levels and the production of insulin. The intake of foods with high glycemic index causes the blood sugar levels to be very high, as a result of which insulin causes some of the blood glucose to be stored in the body as fat. Low glycemic index foods like navy beans, however have the opposite effect. They also help in weight loss by producing alpha-amylase inhibitors that inhibit the absorption of carbohydrates, thereby preventing the storage of glucose as body fat. Moreover, the fiber in these beans gives you the feeling of fullness and prevents you from overeating.
Navy beans make you energetic
Navy beans are good sources of iron and hence can help increase your energy by filling up your iron stores. Iron is an important mineral that is essential for making hemoglobin, which is needed for transporting oxygen to all parts of the body. It also plays a major role in the production of energy and metabolic activities. Pregnant or lactating women, menstruating women, children and adolescents have increased requirements for iron and hence it’s a good idea to include navy beans as part of the regular diet.
[Read about home remedies for flatulence]
Haricot beans can detoxify your body
Haricot beans are one of the richest sources of the trace mineral molybdenum, which is needed for the production and activation of number of enzymes responsible for detoxifying the body such as aldehyde oxidase and sulfite oxidase. Aldehyde oxidase has the ability to neutralize acetaldehyde, a toxic byproduct of fungi, yeast and alcohol metabolism and an important constituent of tobacco smoke and automotive exhaust. Sulfite oxidase is a mitochondrial enzyme that acts as a catalyst to the sulfoxidation process that may cause serious health problems. The high fiber content in navy beans binds with the digested material in the gastrointestinal tract and helps in expelling the waste more effectively and in cleansing your body of harmful toxins.
Navy beans improve brain health
Navy beans contain good levels of thiamin, a B group vitamin that plays a key role in enzymatic reactions needed for the production of energy and also for cognitive and brain functions. Acetylcholine is an important neurotransmitter that is essential for maintaining memory. Lack of this compound has been found to contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and age-related mental function or senility. Thiamin helps in the synthesis of acetylcholine and thus in improving memory and brain functions.
Haricot beans are rich in copper and manganese
Haricot beans are an excellent source of copper and manganese, both of which are trace minerals that are cofactors of an important oxidative enzyme known as superoxide dismutase. This enzyme fights off the free radicals produced in your body and offers protection against oxidative stress and damage. Copper is another mineral that plays a major role in stimulating the activity of an enzyme called lysyl oxidase, which is associated with cross-linking elastin and collagen that provide the structure and flexibility of bones, joints and blood vessels. Copper is also essential for the synthesis of hemoglobin and also for the proper utilization of iron by the red blood cells.
Navy beans for growth and repair
Navy beans contain a significant amount of protein, which is an important part of your diet. Proteins break down into essential amino acids in our body, which is needed for growth and repair and the development of new cells, tissues, and organs. The high protein content in navy beans can also help in boosting your energy and make you active throughout the day.
Haricot beans prevent birth defects
Quite often the deficiency of folate leads to neural tube defects (birth defects of the spine, brain or spinal cord) in babies. Navy beans are found to contain high levels of folic acid or folate that helps prevent the development of birth defects as well as ensure a healthy delivery.
[Read more about benefits of raw cacao beans]
White Navy beans and bone health
The high amounts of copper, magnesium and zinc found in navy beans are beneficial in increasing the strength of the bones and in preventing their demineralization. Strong and healthy bones help prevent loss of bone mass and the onset of conditions like osteoporosis.
Caution with Navy beans
Navy bean contains naturally occurring substance – Purines, which may be cause disorder in some individuals who are susceptible to them. Purines are broken down in these individuals to uric acid and any excess uric acid may get accumulated to cause gout or kidney stones.
Healthiest Way of Cooking Navy Beans
Dried Haricot beans should be completely cooked before eating. Soak the beans overnight. Throw the water. These beans need to be boiled in water for about half to one hour before they are completely cooked. Adding salt or seasoning should be avoided during cooking beans, as this will increase the cooking time. Haricot green beans or Haricot verts are also cooked and enjoyed as weight loss food. Try out haricot bean salad or haricot bean soup. Try out this Green Bean, Pea and Haricot Bean Salad.
Did you know why are navy beans called navy beans? Haricot beans do not lose nutritive value even after canning and had very good popularity in early 1900s among American navy who used largely canned foods. This popularity lead to availability of canned navy beans in local markets.
When it comes to choosing healthy ways to improve your health, haricot beans can be an excellent option. These legumes have tons of nutrition that helps your body function at its best, without introducing the unhealthy stuff such as fat, sugar, and sodium that are often found in processed foods. Navy beans are also a very inexpensive and a good source of high quality protein, which makes them a popular food choice in many cultures around the world. These beans, when stored in an airtight container in a dry, cool, and dark place will keep for up to a year. Cooked navy beans will stay fresh for about three to four days when kept in a covered container in the refrigerator.