Green beans, also known as French beans, string beans, snap beans, or Phaseolus vulgaris L. (for us science nerds) are odd-ball members of the legume (Fabaceae) family. Compared to most other legumes, green beans (and fresh peas) are harvested for their fresh pods, as opposed to dried seeds as in other legume varieties such as lentils or black beans. As such, their “seeds” are soft when raw, and due to their unripe or immature state, are lower in mineral binding phytates.
This veggie originated in Central and South America, and has been cultivated in Peru and Mexico going back thousands of years. After being introduced to North America, Native Americans planted beans with corn and squash, dubbed the “Three Sisters” since these plants thrive together much like inseparable sisters (well, in some families!). The corn stalks provided support for the beans, while the low-growing squash shaded the ground to prevent moisture loss and discourage pests. The beans made nitrogen readily available for the other plants, completing the perfect balance of companion planting. Today 24 million tons of beans are grown world-wide!
Nutrivore Score for Green Beans – 605
Green beans have a Nutrivore Score of 605, making them a high nutrient-dense food! Plus, they are a low-carb and low-calorie-density food; the calorie count of green beans is just 31 calories per cup!
Per serving, green beans are an excellent source (20-50% daily value) of vitamin K; and a good source (10-20% daily value) of carotenoids, dietary fiber, and vitamin C.
Green Bean Nutrition Facts
One serving of green beans is standardized to 1 cup, chopped or about 100 grams (3.5 ounces). A typical green bean (4″ long) weighs 5.5 grams, which means: one serving of green beans is approximately equivalent to 18 green beans (4″ long). When you cook green beans, they reduce in volume: 1 cup raw green beans is roughly equivalent to a little more than 3/4 cup boiled green beans.
|Green beans, raw||Nutrivore Score: 605||Nutrient Density: High|
|Serving Size: 1 cup, chopped (100 grams)||Protein: 1.8 grams||Net Carbohydrates: 4.3 grams|
|Calories: 31||Total Fat: 0.2 grams||Dietary Fiber: 2.7 grams|
|Vitamin A||35.0 μg RAE||4% DV|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||82.0 μg||7% DV|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||104.0 μg||8% DV|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.7 mg||5% DV|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)||0.2 mg||5% DV|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||141.0 μg||8% DV|
|Vitamin B7 (Biotin)||0.7 μg||2% DV|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||33.0 μg||8% DV|
|Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)||0.0 μg||0% DV|
|Vitamin C||12.2 mg||14% DV|
|Vitamin D (D2 + D3)||0.0 μg||0% DV|
|Vitamin E||0.4 mg||3% DV|
|Vitamin K||43.0 μg||36% DV|
|Choline||15.3 mg||3% DV|
|Calcium||37.0 mg||3% DV|
|Copper||69.0 μg||8% DV|
|Iron||1.0 mg||6% DV|
|Magnesium||25.0 mg||6% DV|
|Manganese||216.0 μg||9% DV|
|Phosphorus||38.0 mg||3% DV|
|Potassium||211.0 mg||4% DV|
|Selenium||0.6 μg||1% DV|
|Sodium||6.0 mg||0% DV|
|Zinc||0.2 mg||2% DV|
|AMINO ACIDS & PEPTIDES|
Green Bean Nutrition Varies With Cooking and Processing
The Nutrivore Score of green beans varies depending on the method of preparation and processing. For instance, frozen and canned green beans are convenient options available year-round at your local grocery store. These are great options since green beans are highly perishable and have a limited shelf-life.
|Green beans, canned, no salt added, drained solids||576|
|Green beans, canned, no salt added, solids and liquids||676|
|Green beans, canned, regular pack, drained solids||588|
|Green beans, canned, regular pack, solids and liquids||661|
|Green beans, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt||516|
|Green beans, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt||513|
|Green beans, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained without salt||513|
|Green beans, frozen, cooked, boiled, drained, with salt||517|
|Green beans, microwaved||622|
|Green beans, raw||605|
Health Benefits of Green Bean Nutrients
Let’s take a closer look at all of the best and excellent source of nutrients found in a 1-cup serving of green beans and see how they benefit our health.
Green Beans Provide 36% DV Vitamin K
Green beans are an excellent source of vitamin K, providing 36% of the daily value per 1-cup serving!
Vitamin K is actually a group of fat-soluble vitamins with a similar molecular structure, existing as K1, multiple isoforms of K2, and the synthetic form K3. This nutrient plays a vital role in coagulation, due to serving as a cofactor for proteins needed for blood clotting; it’s also essential for bone metabolism, cellular function, and the prevention of soft tissue calcification. Getting enough vitamin K2 can help protect against cardiovascular disease, may improve bone mineral density and skeletal health, and may even support endocrine function and brain health; there’s also some limited evidence it has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Learn more about vitamin K here.
How Much Green Beans Should We Eat Per Day?
It’s not easy being green, but this veggie makes it look like a “snap”! Delicious, nutritious, and versatile, green beans are a worthy addition to our plate.
Every serving of fresh, whole vegetables or fruit we eat daily reduces the risk of all-cause mortality by 5% to 8%, with the greatest risk reduction seen when we consume eight or more servings per day. In fact, consuming 800 grams of vegetables and fruits daily reduces all-cause mortality by 31% compared to eating less than 40 grams daily. A 2017 meta-analysis showed that 2.24 million deaths from cardiovascular disease, 660,000 deaths from cancer, and 7.8 million deaths from all causes could be avoided globally each year if everyone consumed 800 grams of veggies and fruits every day.
Eating vegetables and fruit in abundance lowers risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, chronic kidney disease, osteoporosis and bone fragility fractures (including hip fracture), cognitive impairment and dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease), neurodegenerative diseases, asthma, allergies, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, depression, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory polyarthritis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, acne, seborrheic dermatitis, and lowers markers of inflammation. Learn more in Importance of Vegetables and Fruit.
Covering half of your plate with a variety of vegetables (and three quarters of your plate if your starchy food is a root vegetable or winter squash) at each meal is a simple way to easily achieve the goal of 800 grams daily (about 5 to 8 servings depending on the vegetable).
Green beans have been classified in the top 10 common vegetables when it comes to antioxidant content and activity and have been shown to help lower cholesterol, and reduce the risk of stomach and prostate cancers. It’s always best to mix up the veggies you eat day to day (aiming for a wide variety of different vegetables and fruits throughout the week), and green beans definitely have a place at the table.
Expand to see all scientific references for this article.
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Frida Food Database. National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark: Beans, green, raw
Phenol-Explorer: Green bean, raw
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USDA Food Central Database: Beans, snap, green, raw
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