Bean down the ages!! Literally…!
'Beans, beans, the magical fruit!
The more you eat, the more you toot.
The more you toot, the better you feel,
So eat some beans at every meal!'
This may not be the best rhyme about beans but here are some facts that may surprise you. Beans have had one longest history of been cultivated as a vegetable by humans.
Beans are one of the oldest plants to be cultivated by humans. Broad beans have been cultivated since at least ancient Egypt and common beans have been grown by humans over six thousand years ago in the Americas. Most of the beans we eat fresh come from the Americas and were first discovered by Christopher Columbus.
Since beans are literally grown all over the globe, they are known by a great variety of names. At least 11 types of beans have four or more names and certain species like the fava bean and navy bean have over 10 names.
Other names for the fava bean include broad bean, butter bean, Windsor bean, horse bean, English bean, fool, foul, ful, feve, faba, haba and habas. The navy bean is also known as Yankee bean, white pea bean, pearl haricot, Boston bean, Boston navy bean, pea bean, haricot blanc bean, small white bean, haricot bean and fagioli. You may have often thought you never tried a type of bean while it it may well be that actually you just heard one of its alternate names.
Multiple cultures associate eating or planting beans on certain days with good luck. Certain areas of Europe consider it to be lucky to plant beans on Good Friday. In Nicaragua, newly weds eat a bowl of beans for good luck.
New Year’s Day involves a number of superstitions, and in the Southern United States, Malta, Brazil and Italy eating beans or lentils is considered to bring increased prosperity in the next year.
Toxicity in Beans:
Some beans, especially those that are red in color, contain harmful toxins that can only be removed through cooking. Strangely, eating these beans when they are undercooked may be more toxic than eating the beans raw. This may be because; undercooking activates these toxins and their properties slightly. The toxicity will usually not result in death, but can result in severe nausea and diarrhea.
Beans can make you toot (f.a.r.t) and that is the whole truth! The reason is that many beans have sugar molecules that cannot be digested by us. The bacteria in our large intestine however digest this sugar. This digestion produces increased gas as a by-product. Soaking the beans in water for a few hours can help reduce this problem, so will the induction of certain other enzymes, like those found in Beano.
No Beans for the Greeks:
The followers of Pythagoras, on top of being vegetarians had also refused to eat beans. The reason is unclear, but many people believe it was due to flatulence, while others believe it was because they look like female genitalia. The most commonly accepted reason though is that the beans and humans were said to be created from the same material. Another alleged reason is that Pythagoras and his followers believed that certain beans can be toxic when consumed raw.
There is an inherited condition known as “favism” that can result in nerve damage, coma and even paralysis when beans are consumed. It is more common in people who live around the Mediterranean.
So the next time you throw together a bowl of rice and beans for a healthy meal in a hurry, ponder over the interesting history and facts over this amazing veggie and ‘Bean It On’!!