Green Beans: Low in Carbs and High in Nutrition

Health Benefits, Nutrition Info, and Low-Carb Recipes

Basket of green beans
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Green beans, string beans, snap beans—no matter what you call them, they're all the same thing, and they have a lot to offer us in the way of nutrition for a very low amount of carbohydrates. Yellow string beans aren't quite as nutritious as the green type but are still low in carbs.

Green Beans are Actually Legumes

Green beans legumes, just like the beans that we usually eat cooked or canned, such as kidney beans and pinto beans.

The difference is simply that the pod of green beans is edible so it can be picked earlier. If you are growing green beans in your garden and don't pick them in time, you can leave them on the plant and they will mature and dry. After that point, you can cook and eat the beans just as you would any other dried bean.

Carbohydrate, Fiber, and Calorie Counts for Green Beans

Green beans are low in carbs and can add some fiber to your diet.

  • ½ cup of raw green beans (or about 10 4" beans): 2.3 grams of effective (net) carbohydrates plus 1.5 grams of fiber and 17 calories
  • ½ cup of cooked green beans: 3 grams of effective (net) carbohydrates plus 2 grams of fiber and 22 calories
  • 1 cup of ½ " pieces of raw green beans: 4.3 grams of effective (net) carbohydrates plus 2.7 grams of fiber and 31 calories

Glycemic Index for Green Beans

Green beans have a low glycemic index (15), which makes them a good choice for people with diabetes or on a low-carb diet.

Health Benefits of Green Beans

Green beans are a very good source of fiber, vitamin K, and beta-carotene (and other carotenoids); an excellent source of vitamin C, and a good source of folate and manganese. They also contain fair amounts of many other nutrients including potassium, iron, lutein, and B vitamins, as well as many phytonutrients such as antioxidant flavonoids.

Green beans have a similar nutrient profile to leafy greens, so if you're tired of leaves, try green beans for a change.

Selecting and Storing Green Beans

Choose beans that are firm and smooth without brown spots or soft areas. Ideally, you should feel a "snap" when you break them (hence the name "snap beans"). Store them in the crisper compartment of your refrigerator, where they should keep up to a week. Don't wash them until right before you prepare them to eat. If you don't think you'll be able to eat them before they go bad, you can wash and freeze them.

Low-Carb Recipes with Green Beans

If you're tired of eating the same plain green beans, there are many green bean recipes that fit into a low-carb diet, including  Green Bean Casserole with Onion ToppingLow-Carb Four-Bean SaladRainbow Soup, and  Chicken (or Turkey) Pot Pie. Cooking them with some onion and sprinkling them with a little lemon pepper is also a tasty way to change them up.  

Sources:

California Consortium of Cardiologists. Digestion 101: Glycemic Index of Foods.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28, 2016.

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