Green beans are the unripe, young fruit and protective pods of various cultivars of the common bean.
Green beans are known by many common names, including French beans, string beans, snap beans and snaps.
The green bean originated in Central and South America and there’s evidence that it has been cultivated in Mexico and Peru for thousands of years.
They were grown by Native Americans, who would plant them with corn and let the beans grown up stalk with corn.
The crop was introduced to the Mediterranean region in 1492 by Christopher Columbus.
By the 17th century, it was cultivated all around Italy, Greece and Turkey.
Today, it’s an important crop virtually everywhere.
Green beans form erect bushes from 20 to 60 cm (8 to 20 in) tall, while pole or running varieties form vines from 2 to 3 m (7 to 10 ft) long.
The leaves alternate, green or purple leaves, which are divided into three oval, smooth-edged leaflets, each 6 to 15 cm (2 to 6 in) long and from 3 to 11 cm (1 to 4 in) wide.
The white, pink, or purple flowers are about 1 cm long, and they give way to pods from 8 to 20 cm (3 to 8 in) long and 1 to 1.5 cm (0.4 to 0.6 in) wide.
Green beans are eaten around the world, and are sold fresh, canned, and frozen. They can be eaten raw or steamed, boiled, stir-fried, or baked in casseroles.
There are only 31 calories in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of green beans.
Green beans are an excellent source of vitamin K. They are a very good source of manganese, vitamin C, dietary fiber, folate and vitamin B2. In addition, green beans are a good source of copper, vitamin B1, chromium, magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, choline, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), niacin, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, vitamin B6 and vitamin E.
The health benefits of green beans include improve heart health, bone health, boost the immune system, help prevent cancer and manage/prevent diabetes, aid weight loss, boost to the immune system and contribute to the elimination of harmful free radicals.
A dish with green beans popular throughout the US, particularly at Thanksgiving, is green bean casserole, a dish of green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and French-fried onions.
Some US restaurants serve green beans that are battered and fried, such as green bean tempura.
Green beans are also sold dried, and/or fried with vegetables such as carrots, corn, and peas, as vegetable chips.
In home gardens, green beans are, in fact, the third most commonly grown garden vegetable in the United States, outranked only by tomatoes and peppers.
The longest green bean was grown by H. Hurley of Fuguay-VArina, North Carolina, USA in 1996 grew to a length of 121.9 cm (48.75 in).