Bean
Overview
 
See also: Common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris)

Bean (icon) is a common name for large plant seed
Seed
A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food. It is the product of the ripened ovule of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants which occurs after fertilization and some growth within the mother plant...

s of several genera
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 of the family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 Fabaceae
Fabaceae
The Fabaceae or Leguminosae, commonly known as the legume, pea, or bean family, is a large and economically important family of flowering plants. The group is the third largest land plant family, behind only the Orchidaceae and Asteraceae, with 730 genera and over 19,400 species...

 (alternately Leguminosae) used for human food or animal feed
Animal feed
Animal feed may refer to:*Compound feed, commercial pelleted food produced in a feed mill and fed to domestic livestock*Fodder, food given to domestic livestock, including plants cut and carried to them*Forage, growing plants eaten by domestic livestock....

.

The whole young pods of bean plants, if picked before the pods ripen and dry, are very tender and may be eaten cooked or raw. Thus the term "green bean
Green bean
Green beans , also known as French beans , are the unripe fruit of any kind of bean, including the yardlong bean, the hyacinth bean, the winged bean, and especially the common bean , whose pods are also usually called string beans in the northeastern and western United States, but can also be...

s" means "green" in the sense of unripe (many are in fact not green in color).
Encyclopedia
See also: Common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris)

Bean (icon) is a common name for large plant seed
Seed
A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food. It is the product of the ripened ovule of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants which occurs after fertilization and some growth within the mother plant...

s of several genera
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 of the family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 Fabaceae
Fabaceae
The Fabaceae or Leguminosae, commonly known as the legume, pea, or bean family, is a large and economically important family of flowering plants. The group is the third largest land plant family, behind only the Orchidaceae and Asteraceae, with 730 genera and over 19,400 species...

 (alternately Leguminosae) used for human food or animal feed
Animal feed
Animal feed may refer to:*Compound feed, commercial pelleted food produced in a feed mill and fed to domestic livestock*Fodder, food given to domestic livestock, including plants cut and carried to them*Forage, growing plants eaten by domestic livestock....

.

The whole young pods of bean plants, if picked before the pods ripen and dry, are very tender and may be eaten cooked or raw. Thus the term "green bean
Green bean
Green beans , also known as French beans , are the unripe fruit of any kind of bean, including the yardlong bean, the hyacinth bean, the winged bean, and especially the common bean , whose pods are also usually called string beans in the northeastern and western United States, but can also be...

s" means "green" in the sense of unripe (many are in fact not green in color). In some cases, the beans inside the pods of "green beans" are too small to comprise a significant part of the cooked fruit.

Terminology

The term "bean" originally referred to the seed of the broad bean
Vicia faba
This article refers to the Broad Bean plant. For Broadbean the company, see Broadbean, Inc.Vicia faba, the Broad Bean, Fava Bean, Field Bean, Bell Bean or Tic Bean, is a species of bean native to north Africa and southwest Asia, and extensively cultivated elsewhere. A variety is provisionally...

, but was later expanded to include members of the genus Phaseolus
Phaseolus
Phaseolus is a genus in the family Fabaceae of about fifty plant species, all native to the Americas.At least four of the species have been domesticated since pre-Columbian times for their beans. Most prominent among these is the common bean, P...

, such as the common bean
Common bean
Phaseolus vulgaris, the common bean, is an herbaceous annual plant domesticated independently in ancient Mesoamerica and the Andes, and now grown worldwide for its edible bean, popular both dry and as a green bean. The leaf is occasionally used as a leaf vegetable, and the straw is used for fodder...

 and the runner bean
Runner bean
Phaseolus coccineus, the runner bean or scarlet runner bean since most varieties have red flowers and multicolored seeds, though some have white flowers and white seeds, is a plant in the Fabaceae family. Runner beans have also been called "Oregon Lima Bean". and in Nahuatl "ayocotl" or in Spanish...

, and the related genus Vigna
Vigna
The genus Vigna is in the plant family Fabaceae. The genus is named after Domenico Vigna, an Italian botanist of the 17th century. They include some well-known and other less well-known beans formerly — and sometimes still, especially in non-scholarly sources — included in the genus Phaseolus...

. The term is now applied generally to many other related plants such as soybean
Soybean
The soybean or soya bean is a species of legume native to East Asia, widely grown for its edible bean which has numerous uses...

s, pea
Pea
A pea is most commonly the small spherical seed or the seed-pod of the pod fruit Pisum sativum. Each pod contains several peas. Peapods are botanically a fruit, since they contain seeds developed from the ovary of a flower. However, peas are considered to be a vegetable in cooking...

s, lentil
Lentil
The lentil is an edible pulse. It is a bushy annual plant of the legume family, grown for its lens-shaped seeds...

s, chickpea
Chickpea
The chickpea is a legume of the family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae...

s (garbanzos), vetches, and lupin
Lupin
Lupinus, commonly known as Lupins or lupines , is a genus in the legume family . The genus comprises about 280 species , with major centers of diversity in South and western North America , and the Andes and secondary centers in the Mediterranean region and Africa Lupinus, commonly known as Lupins...

s.

"Bean" can be used as a synonym of "pulse
Pulse (legume)
A pulse is an annual leguminous crop yielding from one to twelve seeds of variable size, shape, and color within a pod. Pulses are used for food and animal feed. The term "pulse", as used by the Food and Agricultural Organization , is reserved for crops harvested solely for the dry seed...

," an edible legume, though the term "pulses" is usually reserved for leguminous crops harvested for their dry grain, and usually excludes crops used mainly for oil
Oil
An oil is any substance that is liquid at ambient temperatures and does not mix with water but may mix with other oils and organic solvents. This general definition includes vegetable oils, volatile essential oils, petrochemical oils, and synthetic oils....

 extraction (such as soybeans and peanuts) or those used exclusively for sowing
Sowing
Sowing is the process of planting seeds.-Plants which are usually sown:Among the major field crops, oats, wheat, and rye are sowed, grasses and legumes are seeded, and maize and soybeans are planted...

 purposes (such as clover
Clover
Clover , or trefoil, is a genus of about 300 species of plants in the leguminous pea family Fabaceae. The genus has a cosmopolitan distribution; the highest diversity is found in the temperate Northern Hemisphere, but many species also occur in South America and Africa, including at high altitudes...

 and alfalfa
Alfalfa
Alfalfa is a flowering plant in the pea family Fabaceae cultivated as an important forage crop in the US, Canada, Argentina, France, Australia, the Middle East, South Africa, and many other countries. It is known as lucerne in the UK, France, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, and known as...

). Leguminous crops harvested green for food, such as snap pea
Snap pea
Snap peas , also known as sugarsnap peas, are a cultivar group of edible-podded peas that differ from snow peas in that their pods are round as opposed to flat. The name mangetout can apply both to snap peas and snow peas.Snap peas, like all other peas, are pod fruits...

s, snow pea
Snow pea
The snow pea is a legume, more specifically a variety of pea eaten whole in its pod while still unripe...

s, and so on, are classified as vegetable crops.

In English usage, the word "bean" is also sometimes used to refer to the seeds or pods of plants that are not in the family leguminosae, but which bear a superficial resemblance to true beans--for example coffee bean
Coffee bean
A coffee bean is a seed of a coffee plant. It is the pit inside the red or purple fruit often referred to as a cherry. Even though they are seeds, they are referred to as 'beans' because of their resemblance to true beans. The fruits - coffee cherries or coffee berries - most commonly contain two...

s, castor beans and cocoa beans (which resemble bean seeds), and vanilla beans (which resemble the pods).

History

Beans are one of the longest-cultivated plants. Broad beans, in their wild state are the size of a small fingernail, the seeds were gathered in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 and the Himalayan foothills. In a form improved from naturally occurring types, they were grown in Thailand already since the early seventh millennium (BC), predating ceramics. They were deposited with the dead in ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

. Not until the second millennium BC did cultivated, large-seeded broad beans appear in the Aegean, Iberia and transalpine Europe. In the Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

 (late-8th century) is a passing mention of beans and chickpea
Chickpea
The chickpea is a legume of the family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae...

s cast on the threshing floor.

The oldest-known domesticated beans in the Americas were found in Guitarrero Cave
Guitarrero Cave
Guitarrero Cave is located in the Callejon de Huaylas valley in Yungay Province, in the Ancash region of Peru. The cave stands 50 meters above Rio Santa and 2,580 meters above sea level.-Archeological findings:...

, an archaeological site in Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

, and dated to around the second millennium BCE.

Beans were an important source of protein
Protein in nutrition
Proteins are polymer chains made of amino acids linked together by peptide bonds. Proteins and carbohydrates contain 4 kcal per gram as opposed to lipids which contain 9 kcal per gram....

 throughout Old and New World history, and still are today. There are over 4,000 cultivar
Cultivar
A cultivar'Cultivar has two meanings as explained under Formal definition. When used in reference to a taxon, the word does not apply to an individual plant but to all those plants sharing the unique characteristics that define the cultivar. is a plant or group of plants selected for desirable...

s of bean on record in the United States alone.

Most of the kinds commonly eaten fresh come from the Americas, being first seen by a European when Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

, during his exploration, of what may have been the Bahamas, found them growing in fields. Five kinds of Phaseolus
Phaseolus
Phaseolus is a genus in the family Fabaceae of about fifty plant species, all native to the Americas.At least four of the species have been domesticated since pre-Columbian times for their beans. Most prominent among these is the common bean, P...

 beans were domesticated by pre-Columbian peoples: common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) grown from Chile to the northern part of what is now the United States, and lima and sieva beans (Phaseolus lunatus), as well as the less widely distributed teparies (Phaseolus acutifolius), scarlet runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus) and polyanthus beans (Phaseolus polyanthus) One especially famous use of beans by pre-Columbian people as far north as the Atlantic seaboard is the "Three Sisters
Three Sisters (agriculture)
The Three Sisters are the three main agricultural crops of various Native American groups in North America: squash, maize, and climbing beans ....

" method of companion plant cultivation:
On the east coast of what would come to be called the United States, some tribes would grow maize
Maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

 (corn), beans, and squash intermingled together, a system which had originated in Mexico. The corn would not be planted in rows as it is today, but in a checkerboard/hex fashion across a field, in separate patches of one to four stalks each.

Beans would be planted around the base of the developing stalks, and would vine their way up as the stalks grew. All American beans at that time were vine plants, "bush beans" having been bred only more recently. The cornstalks would work as a trellis
Trellis (agriculture)
A trellis is an architectural structure, usually made from interwoven pieces of wood, bamboo or metal that is often made to support climbing plants...

 for the beans, and the beans would provide much-needed nitrogen
Nitrogen
Nitrogen is a chemical element that has the symbol N, atomic number of 7 and atomic mass 14.00674 u. Elemental nitrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and mostly inert diatomic gas at standard conditions, constituting 78.08% by volume of Earth's atmosphere...

 for the corn.

Squash would then be planted in the spaces between the patches of corn in the field. They would be provided slight shelter from the sun by the corn, and would deter many animals from attacking the corn and beans because their coarse, hairy vines and broad, stiff leaves are difficult or uncomfortable for animals such as deer and raccoons to walk through, crows to land on, etc.


Dry beans come from both Old World varieties of broad beans (fava beans) and New World varieties (kidney, black, cranberry, pinto, navy/haricot).

Types

There are many bean types, including:
  • Vicia
    Vicia
    Vicia is a genus of about 140 species of flowering plants commonly known as vetches. It is in the legume family . Member species are native to Europe, North America, South America, Asia and Africa. Some other genera of their subfamily Faboideae also have names containing "vetch", for example the...

    • Faba or broad bean
      Vicia faba
      This article refers to the Broad Bean plant. For Broadbean the company, see Broadbean, Inc.Vicia faba, the Broad Bean, Fava Bean, Field Bean, Bell Bean or Tic Bean, is a species of bean native to north Africa and southwest Asia, and extensively cultivated elsewhere. A variety is provisionally...

  • Vigna
    Vigna
    The genus Vigna is in the plant family Fabaceae. The genus is named after Domenico Vigna, an Italian botanist of the 17th century. They include some well-known and other less well-known beans formerly — and sometimes still, especially in non-scholarly sources — included in the genus Phaseolus...

    • Aconitifolia or Moth bean
      Moth bean
      Vigna aconitifolia, called the moth bean , mat bean, Turkish gram, or ' maṭki in Marathi, is a small, drought-resistant, annual, trailing herb with small yellow flowers and deeply lobed leaves, grown especially in dry parts of South Asia for its tiny edible beans, which range in color from light...

    • Angularis or azuki bean
      Azuki bean
      The is an annual vine, Vigna angularis, widely grown throughout East Asia and the Himalayas for its small bean. The cultivars most familiar in north-east Asia have a uniform red color, but white, black, gray and variously mottled varieties are also known. Scientists presume Vigna angularis var...

    • mungo or urad bean
      Urad (bean)
      Vigna mungo, known as urad, urad dal, udad dal, urd bean, urd, urid, black matpe bean, black gram, black lentil [not to be confused with the much smaller true black lentil ], maas , đậu đen or white lentil, is a bean grown in southern Asia...

    • radiata or mung bean
      Mung bean
      The mung bean is the seed of Vigna radiata. It is native to the Indian subcontinent.-Description:They are small, ovoid in shape, and green in color...

    • umbellatta or ricebean
    • unguiculata or cowpea
      Cowpea
      The Cowpea is one of several species of the widely cultivated genus Vigna. Four cultivated subspecies are recognised:*Vigna unguiculata subsp. cylindrica Catjang...

       (includes the black-eyed pea
      Black-eyed pea
      The black-eyed pea, also called black-eyed bean and chawalie or lobia in various languages in India and Pakistan, is a subspecies of the cowpea, grown around the world for its medium-sized, edible bean. The bean mutates easily, giving rise to a number of varieties. The common commercial one is...

      , yardlong bean
      Yardlong bean
      Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis, the yardlong bean, is also known as bora, the long-podded cowpea, asparagus bean, snake bean, or Chinese long bean...

       and others)
  • Cicer
    Cicer
    Cicer is a genus of the legume family Fabaceae and the only genus found in Tribe Cicereae. Its native distribution is across the Middle East and Asia...

    • arietinum or chickpea
      Chickpea
      The chickpea is a legume of the family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae...

       (also known as the garbanzo bean)
  • Pisum
    Pisum
    Pisum is a genus of the family Fabaceae, native to southwest Asia and northeast Africa. It contains one to five species, depending on taxonomic interpretation; the International Legume Database accepts three species, one with two subspecies :...

    • sativum or pea
      Pea
      A pea is most commonly the small spherical seed or the seed-pod of the pod fruit Pisum sativum. Each pod contains several peas. Peapods are botanically a fruit, since they contain seeds developed from the ovary of a flower. However, peas are considered to be a vegetable in cooking...

  • Lathyrus
    Lathyrus
    Lathyrus is a genus of flowering plant species known as sweet peas and vetchlings. Lathyrus is in the legume family Fabaceae and contains approximately 160 species. They are native to temperate areas, with a breakdown of 52 species in Europe, 30 species in North America, 78 in Asia, 24 in...

  • Lathyrus sativus
    Lathyrus sativus
    Lathyrus sativus, is a legume commonly grown for human consumption and livestock feed in Asia and East Africa. It is a particularly important crop in areas that are prone to drought and famine, and is thought of as an 'insurance crop' as it produces reliable yields when all other crops...

     (Indian pea)
  • Lathyrus tuberosus
    Lathyrus tuberosus
    Lathyrus tuberosus, also known as the Tuberous Pea, Tuberous Vetchling, Earthnut Pea, or Aardaker, is a small, climbing perennial plant, native in moist temperate parts of Europe and Western Asia....

     (Tuberous pea)
  • Lens
    Lens (genus)
    The genus Lens of the legume family Fabaceae contains four species of small, erect or climbing herbs with pinnate leaves and small inconspicuous white flowers and small flattened pods...

    • culinaris or lentil
      Lentil
      The lentil is an edible pulse. It is a bushy annual plant of the legume family, grown for its lens-shaped seeds...

       
  • Lablab
    • purpureus or hyacinth bean
      Hyacinth bean
      Lablab purpureus Lablab purpureus Lablab purpureus (syn. Dolichos lablab L., Dolichos purpureus L., L. niger Medikus, L. lablab (L.) Lyons, Vigna aristata Piper, and L...

       
  • Phaseolus
    Phaseolus
    Phaseolus is a genus in the family Fabaceae of about fifty plant species, all native to the Americas.At least four of the species have been domesticated since pre-Columbian times for their beans. Most prominent among these is the common bean, P...

    • acutifolius or tepary bean
      Tepary bean
      Phaseolus acutifolius, the Tepary bean, is native to the southwestern United States and Mexico and has been grown there by the native peoples since pre-Columbian times. It is more drought-resistant than the common bean and is grown in desert and semi-desert conditions from Arizona through Mexico...

    • coccineus or runner bean
      Runner bean
      Phaseolus coccineus, the runner bean or scarlet runner bean since most varieties have red flowers and multicolored seeds, though some have white flowers and white seeds, is a plant in the Fabaceae family. Runner beans have also been called "Oregon Lima Bean". and in Nahuatl "ayocotl" or in Spanish...

    • lunatus or lima bean
      Lima bean
      Phaseolus lunatus is a legume. It is grown for its seed, which is eaten as a vegetable. It is commonly known as the lima bean or butter bean.-Origin and uses:...

    • vulgaris or common bean
      Common bean
      Phaseolus vulgaris, the common bean, is an herbaceous annual plant domesticated independently in ancient Mesoamerica and the Andes, and now grown worldwide for its edible bean, popular both dry and as a green bean. The leaf is occasionally used as a leaf vegetable, and the straw is used for fodder...

       (includes the pinto bean, kidney bean, caparrones
      Caparrones
      Caparrones is a Spanish stew made of caparrón, a variety of red kidney bean, and a spicy sausage chorizo, both of which are local specialties of the Spanish La Rioja region. The shape of caparrón bean is shorter and rounder than common red kidney beans...

      , and many others)
  • Glycine
    Glycine (plant)
    Glycine is a genus in the bean family Fabaceae. The best known species is the soybean . While the majority of the species are found only in Australia, the soybean's native range is in East Asia. A few species extend from Australia to East Asia Glycine is a genus in the bean family Fabaceae. The...

    • max or soybean
      Soybean
      The soybean or soya bean is a species of legume native to East Asia, widely grown for its edible bean which has numerous uses...

  • Psophocarpus
    • tetragonolobus or winged bean
      Winged bean
      The Winged bean , also known as the Goa bean and Asparagus Pea and Winged Pea, is a tropical legume plant native to New Guinea. It grows abundantly in hot, humid equatorial countries, from the Philippines and Indonesia to India, Burma, Thailand and Sri Lanka. It does well in humid tropics with high...

       
  • Cajanus
    Cajanus
    The genus Cajanus is a member of the family Fabaceae. There are 37 species, mainly distributed across Africa, Asia and Australasia.Species include the Pigeon pea The genus Cajanus is a member of the family Fabaceae. There are 37 species, mainly distributed across Africa, Asia and...

    • cajan or pigeon pea
      Pigeon pea
      The pigeon pea , also known as tropical green pea, toor dāl or arhar dāl , ತೊಗರಿ ಬೇಳೆ kadios , or Congo pea or gungo pea , pois Congo , gandul , gunga pea, or no-eye pea, [Cajanus...

  • Stizolobium
    • spp or velvet bean
  • Cyamopsis
    Cyamopsis
    Cyamopsis is a genus of the family Fabaceae. Its species are distributed across Africa, Asia and the Pacific....

    • tetragonoloba or guar
      Guar
      The guar/guwar/guvar bean or cluster bean is an annual legume and the source of guar gum. It grows best under conditions with frequent rainfall, but tolerates arid conditions well. About 80% of world production occurs in India, but, due to strong demand, the plant is being introduced into new areas...

  • Canavalia
    Canavalia
    Canavalia is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family and comprises approximately 70-75 species of tropical vines. Members of the genus are commonly known as jack-beans. The species of Canavalia endemic to the Hawaiian Islands were named āwikiwiki by the Native Hawaiians...

    • ensiformis or jack bean
    • gladiata or sword bean
  • Macrotyloma
    • M. uniflorum or horse gram
      Horse gram
      Horse Gram is one of the lesser known beans. The whole seeds of horse gram are generally utilized as cattle feed. However, it is consumed as a whole seed, as sprouts, or as whole meal by a large population in rural areas of southern India. Medical uses of these legumes have been discussed...

  • Lupinus or Lupin
    • L. mutabilis
      Lupinus mutabilis
      Lupinus mutabilis is a species of lupin grown in the Andes for its edible bean. Vernacular names include tarwi, tarhui, chocho, altramuz, Andean lupin, South American lupin, or pearl lupin....

       or tarwi
    • Lupinus albus
      Lupinus albus
      Lupinus albus, commonly known as the white lupin, is a member of the genus Lupinus in the family Fabaceae. It is a traditional pulse cultivated in the Mediterranean region.- Description :...

       or lupini bean
  • Erythrina
    Erythrina
    Erythrina is a genus of flowering plants in the pea family, Fabaceae. It contains about 130 species, which are distributed in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. They are trees, growing up to in height...

    • E. herbacea or Coral bean
      Coral bean
      Erythrina herbacea, commonly known as the Coral Bean, Cherokee Bean, Red Cardinal or Cardinal Spear, is a flowering shrub or small tree found throughout the southeastern United States and northeastern Mexico; it has also been reported from parts of Central America and, as an introduced species,...


Toxins

Some kinds of raw beans, especially red and kidney beans, contain a harmful toxin (lectin
Lectin
Lectins are sugar-binding proteins that are highly specific for their sugar moieties. They play a role in biological recognition phenomena involving cells and proteins. For example, some viruses use lectins to attach themselves to the cells of the host organism during infection...

 phytohaemagglutinin
Phytohaemagglutinin
Phytohaemagglutinin is a lectin found in plants, especially legumes. PHA actually consists of two closely related proteins, called leucoagglutinin and PHA-E. The letters E and L indicate these proteins agglutinate Erythrocytes and Leukocytes...

) that must be removed by cooking. A recommended method is to boil the beans for at least ten minutes; undercooked beans may be more toxic than raw beans.
Cooking beans in a slow cooker
Slow cooker
A slow cooker, also known as a Crock-Pot or Slo-Cooker , is a countertop electrical cooking appliance that is used for simmering, which requires maintaining a relatively low temperature compared to other cooking methods for many hours, allowing unattended cooking...

, because of the lower temperatures often used, may not destroy toxins even though the beans do not smell or taste 'bad' (though this should not be a problem if the food reaches boiling temperature and stays there for some time).

Fermentation
Fermentation (food)
Fermentation in food processing typically is the conversion of carbohydrates to alcohols and carbon dioxide or organic acids using yeasts, bacteria, or a combination thereof, under anaerobic conditions. Fermentation in simple terms is the chemical conversion of sugars into ethanol...

 is used in some parts of Africa to improve the nutritional value of beans by removing toxins. Inexpensive fermentation improves the nutritional impact of flour from dry beans and improves digestibility, according to research co-authored by Emire Shimelis, from the Food Engineering Program at Addis Ababa University. Beans are a major source of dietary protein in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Nutrition

Beans have significant amounts of fiber and soluble fiber, with one cup of cooked beans providing between nine and 13 grams of fiber. Soluble fiber can help lower blood cholesterol
Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a complex isoprenoid. Specifically, it is a waxy steroid of fat that is produced in the liver or intestines. It is used to produce hormones and cell membranes and is transported in the blood plasma of all mammals. It is an essential structural component of mammalian cell membranes...

. Beans are also high in protein
Protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

, complex carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates may refer to:*oligosaccharides, a saccharide polymer containing a small number of component sugars...

, folate, and iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

.

Flatulence

Many edible beans, including broad beans and soybeans, contain oligosaccharides (particularly raffinose
Raffinose
Raffinose is a trisaccharide composed of galactose, fructose, and glucose. It can be found in beans, cabbage, brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, other vegetables, and whole grains. Raffinose can be hydrolyzed to D-galactose and sucrose by the enzyme α-galactosidase , an enzyme not found in the...

 and stachyose
Stachyose
Stachyose is a tetrasaccharide consisting of two α--galactose units, one α--glucose unit, and one β--fructose unit sequentially linked as galgalglcfru. Stachyose is naturally found in numerous vegetables and plants.Stachyose is less sweet than sucrose, at about 28% on a weight basis...

), a type of sugar molecule also found in cabbage
Cabbage
Cabbage is a popular cultivar of the species Brassica oleracea Linne of the Family Brassicaceae and is a leafy green vegetable...

. An anti-oligosaccharide enzyme
Enzyme
Enzymes are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. In enzymatic reactions, the molecules at the beginning of the process, called substrates, are converted into different molecules, called products. Almost all chemical reactions in a biological cell need enzymes in order to occur at rates...

 is necessary to properly digest these sugar molecules. As a normal human digestive tract does not contain any anti-oligosaccharide enzymes, consumed oligosaccharides are typically digested by bacteria
Bacteria
Bacteria are a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals...

 in the large intestine. This digestion process produces flatulence
Flatulence
Flatulence is the expulsion through the rectum of a mixture of gases that are byproducts of the digestion process of mammals and other animals. The medical term for the mixture of gases is flatus, informally known as a fart, or simply gas...

-causing gases as a byproduct. This aspect of bean digestion is the basis for the children's rhyme "Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit
Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit
"Beans, Beans, The Musical Fruit" is a schoolyard saying and children's song about the capacity for beans to contribute to flatulence. The song is also variously known as "Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit", "Beans, Beans, the Miracle Fruit", and "Beans, Beans, the Wonderful Fruit"...

".

Some species of mold
Mold
Molds are fungi that grow in the form of multicellular filaments called hyphae. Molds are not considered to be microbes but microscopic fungi that grow as single cells called yeasts...

 produce alpha-galactosidase, an anti-oligosaccharide enzyme, which humans can take to facilitate digestion of oligosaccharides in the small intestine. This enzyme, currently sold in the United States under the brand-name Beano
Beano (dietary supplement)
Beano is an enzyme-based dietary supplement that is used to reduce gas in the digestive tract, thereby improving digestion and reducing bloating, discomfort, and flatulence caused by gas. It contains the enzyme alpha galactosidase that breaks down oligosaccharides such as raffinose...

, can be added to food or consumed separately. In many cuisines beans are cooked along with natural carminative
Carminative
A carminative, also known as carminativum , is a herb or preparation that either prevents formation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract or facilitates the expulsion of said gas, thereby combating flatulence...

s such as anise
Anise
Anise , Pimpinella anisum, also called aniseed, is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia. Its flavor resembles that of liquorice, fennel, and tarragon.- Biology :...

 seeds, coriander
Coriander
Coriander is an annual herb in the family Apiaceae. Coriander is native to southern Europe and North Africa to southwestern Asia. It is a soft, hairless plant growing to tall. The leaves are variable in shape, broadly lobed at the base of the plant, and slender and feathery higher on the...

 seeds and cumin
Cumin
Cumin is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae, native from the east Mediterranean to India. Its seeds are used in the cuisines of many different cultures, in both whole and ground form.-Etymology:...

.

Other strategies include soaking beans in water for several hours before mixing them with other ingredients to remove the offending sugars. Sometimes vinegar
Vinegar
Vinegar is a liquid substance consisting mainly of acetic acid and water, the acetic acid being produced through the fermentation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria. Commercial vinegar is produced either by fast or slow fermentation processes. Slow methods generally are used with traditional...

 is added, but only after the beans are cooked as vinegar interferes with the beans' softening.

Fermented beans will usually not produce most of the intestinal problems that unfermented beans will, since yeast can consume the offending sugars.

Production

The world leader in production of dry bean is Brazil, followed by India and then China. In Europe, the most important producer is Germany.
Top Ten Dry Bean Producers — 11 June 2008
Country Production (Tonne
Tonne
The tonne, known as the metric ton in the US , often put pleonastically as "metric tonne" to avoid confusion with ton, is a metric system unit of mass equal to 1000 kilograms. The tonne is not an International System of Units unit, but is accepted for use with the SI...

s)
Footnote
3,330,435
3,000,000 F
1,957,000 F
1,765,000 F
1,390,000 F
1,150,808
535,000 F
435,000
328,249
320,000 F
World 19,289,231 A
No symbol = official figure, P = official figure, F = FAO estimate, * = Unofficial/Semi-official/mirror data, C = Calculated figure A = Aggregate (may include official, semi-official or estimates);

Source: Food And Agricultural Organization of United Nations: Economic And Social Department: The Statistical Division

The world leader in production of Green Bean is China, followed by Indonesia and then Turkey.
Top ten green bean producers — 11 June 2008
Country Production (tonne
Tonne
The tonne, known as the metric ton in the US , often put pleonastically as "metric tonne" to avoid confusion with ton, is a metric system unit of mass equal to 1000 kilograms. The tonne is not an International System of Units unit, but is accepted for use with the SI...

s)
Footnote
2,485,000 F
830,000 F
499,298
420,000 F
225,000 F
215,000 F
187,190
105,000 F
100,000 F
100,000 F
World 6,371,333 A
No symbol = official figure, P = official figure, F = FAO estimate, * = Unofficial/Semi-official/mirror data, C = Calculated figure A = Aggregate (may include official, semi-official or estimates);

Source: Food And Agricultural Organization of United Nations: Economic And Social Department: The Statistical Division

See also

  • Common bean
    Common bean
    Phaseolus vulgaris, the common bean, is an herbaceous annual plant domesticated independently in ancient Mesoamerica and the Andes, and now grown worldwide for its edible bean, popular both dry and as a green bean. The leaf is occasionally used as a leaf vegetable, and the straw is used for fodder...

  • Pulses
    Pulse (legume)
    A pulse is an annual leguminous crop yielding from one to twelve seeds of variable size, shape, and color within a pod. Pulses are used for food and animal feed. The term "pulse", as used by the Food and Agricultural Organization , is reserved for crops harvested solely for the dry seed...

  • List of edible seeds
  • Baked beans
    Baked beans
    Baked beans is a dish containing beans, sometimes baked but, despite the name, usually stewed, in a sauce. Most commercial canned baked beans are made from haricot beans, also known as navy beans – a variety of Phaseolus vulgaris – in a sauce. In Ireland and the United Kingdom, a tomato...

  • Fassoulada
    Fassoulada
    Fasolada or fasoulada is a Greek and Cypriot soup of dry white beans, olive oil, and vegetables, sometimes called the "national food of the Greeks".The Arabic version is called fasoulia and is found in Egypt, Yemen and the Levant...


External links

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