Fava Beans Are A Great Alternative For People Who Do Not Have Enough Space Or Want To Save Money On Growing Seeds Of Other Plants. They Can Be Produced From Seed And Soil Is Needed Only.
Fava beans are one of the most popular legumes grown in the world today. They are a member of the nightshade family (Solanaceae) which includes tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and potatoes. There are many varieties of fava beans available but they all have similar characteristics: they produce pods with edible seeds; their leaves contain bitter alkaloids called saponins; and they taste sweet or sour depending upon the variety.
The name “fava” comes from the Latin word fasaculis, meaning “sweet.” The term is also used to refer to other plants like the potato plant, which is known as a tuber. Fava beans were first cultivated in Peru around 500 B.C., where they were eaten raw or cooked and became staples of Peruvian cuisine.
They were also grown in ancient Egypt, Greece and Italy; the word “fava” is taken from the Italian word for bean.
Fava beans are high in fiber, iron, protein and minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. They also contain the antioxidant flavonoids, which help to protect cells from free radicals and improve cardiovascular health.
Fava beans contain traces of oxalic acid, which prevents the body from absorbing calcium. It is believed that they also contain trace amounts of thiamine, which helps the body break down carbohydrates from fava beans into energy.
When cooked without their pods, they have a sweet taste. When cooked whole, they have a more sour flavor.
Fava beans are typically used in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Asian cooking. They are popular in France as “petits pois,” or “little peas.” Fava beans are very popular in Turkey, where they are served as a meze (an appetizer) along with other vegetables like pickled peppers and carrots. Fava beans can also be eaten raw in a dip called “ful medames” that is eaten with pita bread.
TIP! Fava beans grow best in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter.
Fava beans are mostly grown from seed but they can also be propagated by dividing their root structures. The seeds should be planted one to two inches deep, after danger of frost has passed and the soil is warm.
Fava bean plants grow best in full sun or at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. It is important that they get a lot of light. If planted in containers, it is best to use shallow planters that are at least 12 inches deep. They require a steady supply of moisture but do not like to have wet feet.
Fava bean plants can grow up to three feet in height and typically produce about one pound of dried beans.
Favas are ready to be harvested when their leaves start to turn yellow and the pods begin to swell. Beans should be harvested promptly after they reach this stage or they will drop to the ground and become lost.
Harvested fava pods should be spread out somewhere cool and dry (like a garage or patio) and allowed to cure for three or four days. The dried pods will usually turn a yellowish color after they are cured. Dried fava beans will keep up to one year if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
Once the pods are dry, the beans inside can be removed from their thick pods. The beans can be cooked and eaten whole, skin and all, after being boiled for ten minutes. They can also be shelled before or after cooking.
Fava beans contain a toxic element called athalaxic glycoside that is removed when the beans are dried but remains present when the beans are cooked. The element causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in people who consume fava beans. In people with liver disease, fava beans can cause a potentially fatal condition called “fulminant hepatic failure.” This means that the liver suddenly begins to fail and shuts down completely.
People with liver disease or people who have a sensitivity to fava beans should be very careful about consuming them.
Fava beans can be prepared in several delicious ways. They can be incorporated into many classic recipes that call for peas, such as pea soup, pea dip or pea salad. Fava beans can also be used to make curries, stews and casseroles, or simply boiled and tossed in butter.
Fava beans contain high levels of vitamin K, folate, protein, dietary fiber, vitamin B1 and minerals like potassium, phosphorus and zinc.
Fava beans are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber which can help to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood and may help to prevent heart disease.
A one cup serving of boiled fava beans contains only 180 calories.
The National Cancer Institute has determined that there is evidence that consuming foods high in fiber, like fava beans, may help to reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Fava beans are fat free, cholesterol free and very low in sodium.
Fava beans contain the plant based protein, lysine.
Fava beans are high in antioxidants.
Fava bean pods can be used as a vegan cheese substitute in recipes that call for a less-grainy texture. The fresh or dried beans can be eaten shelled or unshelled. In Chinese cooking, the dried skins are often used to wrap other ingredients before steaming them.
Fava beans contain the toxin lectin. This toxin can cause a condition called “avocado hand”, the swelling and blistering of skin that comes in direct contact with the beans. The toxin can also be transferred to knives and other cutting tools during preparation.
Cooking fava beans destroys the toxin. When cooking with fresh fava beans, it is important to wear gloves while preparing them.
The maximum recommended daily intake of fava beans for pregnant women and young children is half a cup due to the presence of flavin.
Fava beans should not be consumed by people breastfeeding infants as they may pass the toxin on to the child through their milk.
Fava beans contain the amino acid tryptophan which breaks down into Melatonin, a sleep-aiding compound of the body.
In 2016, researchers at an agricultural university in Belarus reported the development of a variety of broad bean with significantly lower levels of the haemagglutinin content and, consequently, much lower levels of toxicity. It has been named Bezostaya after the town where it was developed.
Sources & references used in this article:
Productive traits and meat fatty acid profile of broiler chickens fed diets containing micronized fava beans (Vicia faba L. var. minor) as the main protein source by V Laudadio, E Ceci, V Tufarelli – Journal of Applied Poultry Research, 2011 – Elsevier
Effects of cultivar and culture conditions on γ‐aminobutyric acid accumulation in germinated fava beans (Vicia faba L.) by Y Li, Q Bai, X Jin, H Wen, Z Gu – Journal of the Science of Food …, 2010 – Wiley Online Library
Light-mediated fava bean (Vicia faba) response to phytochemical and protein elicitors and consequences on nutraceutical enhancement and seed vigour by R Randhir, K Shetty – Process Biochemistry, 2003 – Elsevier
Microwave-induced stimulation of L-DOPA, phenolics and antioxidant activity in fava bean (Vicia faba) for Parkinson’s diet by R Randhir, K Shetty – Process Biochemistry, 2004 – Elsevier