Beneficial Properties of Fava Beans

Exploring the health benefits and uses of fava beans

Photo of author

By Rachel Maniquis

fava beans

A favorite of health food enthusiasts, fava beans are appreciated for both their versatility in cooking and their nutritional content.

Fava beans (vicia faba), also known as broad beans, have been consumed since ancient times by the Greeks and Romans. Inexpensive and easy to find, they grow in pods and can be eaten both cooked and raw. Originating in North Africa and South Asia, they are now cultivated and enjoyed all over the world.

Packed with nutrients, fava beans can offer a significant boost to your diet.

This article delves into the nutritional properties and health benefits of broad beans, provides tips on how to incorporate them into your kitchen, and shares two delicious recipes.

Nutritional Properties of Fava Beans

Fava beans are a powerhouse of nutrition, providing a wide range of proteins, vitamins, and minerals while being low in fat and calories. A 100-gram serving of raw fava beans contains approximately:

  • Calories: 88
  • Protein: 7.6 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 15.3 grams
  • Fiber: 5.4 grams
  • Fat: 0.4 grams
  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): 0.2 mg
  • Vitamin B6: 0.1 mg
  • Vitamin C: 1.4 mg
  • Iron: 1.5 mg
  • Magnesium: 36 mg
  • Phosphorus: 125 mg
  • Potassium: 268 mg

These beans are particularly high in plant-based protein and fiber, which are crucial for muscle repair and digestive health. They are also rich in vitamins such as folate and minerals like iron and magnesium, making them an excellent addition to any diet.

fava beans
Fava beans are bursting with nutritional benefits

Health benefits of fava beans

The rich nutrient profile of fava beans translates into several health benefits:

  • Heart Health: Broad beans are an excellent source of soluble fiber, which can help reduce cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease. Their high potassium content also aids in controlling blood pressure.
  • Bone Health: With a good supply of magnesium and phosphorus, broad beans contribute to the strength and structure of bones. These minerals are vital for maintaining healthy bone density.
  • Diabetes Management: The fiber in broad beans helps regulate blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, making them beneficial for people with diabetes.
  • Weight Management: High in fiber and protein yet low in fat, broad beans are incredibly filling, which can help reduce overall calorie intake and aid in weight loss.
  • Anemia Prevention: Broad beans are a good source of iron, which is essential for forming red blood cells and preventing anemia. The vitamin C content enhances iron absorption, making these beans particularly effective in combating iron deficiency.

How to Use Fava Beans in the Kitchen

Fava beans are versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes. They can be purchased fresh, dried, canned, or frozen, making them accessible year-round. You can use them in soups, and as side dishes. Some popular dishes around the world that use broad beans include: ful medames in Egypt (cooked, mashed broad beans with oil, salt, and cumin), bessara in Morocco (fava bean dip), and Judd mat Gaardebounen in Luxembourg (smoked pork collar with fava beans).

You can also use them to prepare Falafel, those yummy vegetarian patties that have become a popular street food in recent years.

Here are some tips for preparing and cooking fava beans:

  • Preparation: They should be removed from their pods and blanched in boiling water for 30 seconds to make peeling easier. Dried fava beans need to be soaked overnight and cooked until tender.
  • Cooking: Broad beans can be boiled, steamed, or sautéed. They are a fantastic addition to soups, stews, salads, and pasta dishes.
  • Flavor Pairings: They pair well with flavors like lemon, garlic, mint, and parmesan cheese. They also complement meats such as lamb and fish beautifully.
fava beans in cooking
Fava beans are versatile AND delicious!

Two Recipes Using Fava Beans

Here are two easy and healthy recipes that showcase the verstility of broad beans

Fava Bean and Parmesan Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups shelled and peeled fava beans
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped

Instructions:

  1. Boil the fava beans in salted water for 3-5 minutes or until tender. Drain and let cool.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  3. Add the cooled fava beans to the dressing along with the shaved Parmesan and chopped mint.
  4. Toss everything together until well mixed and serve.

Fava Bean and Spinach Soup

Here is another wonderful recipe you might want to try:

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups shelled and peeled broad beans
  • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, sautéing until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the vegetable broth and broad beans to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the spinach and cook until the leaves wilt, about 3 minutes.
  4. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve hot, garnished with a drizzle of olive oil if desired.

Bonus tips

You might also like: