Fava beans, also called broad beans, are legumes housed in long green pods. One cup of cooked fava beans contains 187 calories, 12.9 g protein, 33 g carbohydrate, <1 g fat, and 9 g fiber. Fava beans are packed with vitamins and minerals, providing 44% of the daily value of folate and 36% of the daily value of manganese. These legumes are also rich in copper, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and potassium [i].
Fava beans contain antioxidants that are associated with decreased risk of diseases that stem from reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the body, including hypertension, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and aging. Specifically, methanolic extracts from fava beans contain phenolic compounds and demonstrate ROS scavenging activities [ii].
Folate plays an important role during pregnancy to reduce risk of neural tube defects, which are serious birth defects that influence the spinal cord, brain, and skull of the baby. With fava beans’ high content of folic acid, they make a high quality addition to salads, soups, or sandwiches during pregnancy.
Rich in manganese, fava beans add an important benefit to the body with regards to both bone development and wound healing. Manganese is a cofactor that helps certain enzymes (glycosyltransferases) to synthesize proteoglycans. These proteoglycans are compounds that form healthy cartilage and bone. Manganese is also involved in collagen formation. Increased production of collagen is required when the body is healing wounds [iii].
Ways to Eat
For a bright green spring salad, combine fava beans with string beans, spinach, avocado, crushed almonds, and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and enjoy as a lighter meal or side. Use fava beans in place of chickpeas in dips for a twist on a classic favorite in this hummus recipe. You can also experiment with roasting fava beans in the pod, like in this crunchy snack recipe. Look out for our Savor Cooks recipe of the month, featuring this nutritional powerhouse of a legume!
[i] Broadbeans (fava beans), mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt. Retrieved from https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2482/2.
[ii] Okada M & Okada Y, 2007. Effects of methanolic extracts from broad beans on cellular growth and antioxidant enzyme. Environ Health Prev Med, 12:251-257. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2723485/pdf/12199_2008_Article_BF02898032.pdf.
[iii] Manganese. Retrieved from https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/manganese.