Raw legumes are recurrent in many diets and are the main component of the raw vegan diet. While it is recommended to cook beans, there are many beans that can be eaten raw, including green beans, garbanzo beans, and more.
Let’s discover how safe it is to eat raw beans and which beans can be safely eaten raw. We’ll also go through the health concerns associated with eating raw beans and how beans can safely be eaten raw.
Is Raw Food Good For You?
You should always ask this question before you try any new type of food. Raw legumes can be eaten safely, but not all of them.
Since many health risks are associated with eating raw and undercooked beans, you should be extra careful when deciding to do so. Many beans aren’t meant for raw consumption and can cause health issues. Even those that can be eaten raw need to be properly prepared so they can be safe to eat.
What Beans Can Be Eaten Raw?
Before we go through the different types of beans, you should know that most beans are not at all safe to eat raw. Beans are rich in glycoproteins called lectins which can be toxic when the beans are raw. When the beans are cooked, the active lectins are destroyed and the beans become safe.
Raw green beans, also called string beans or French beans, are by far your best bet if you want to go for raw beans. They are the least likely to cause health issues and can be included in various raw dishes with no problems. With that being said, raw green beans do contain lectins and can be dangerous to eat if not washed properly. We’ll explain how you can safely eat green beans raw in a later section.
Other types of beans such as garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, black beans, and fava beans can also be eaten raw, but they come with a greater risk compared to raw green beans.
Many dried beans such as kidney beans, cannellini beans, and broad beans can be very harmful when they’re raw. They contain a particularly toxic lectin called Phytohemagglutinin which can lead to a serious foodborne illness, especially in high concentrations.
Kidney beans, both red and white, are the most dangerous raw beans. It is highly recommended that you avoid consuming them raw. We’ll explore the risks associated with eating beans raw in more detail later on
Are Raw Green Beans Safe To Eat?
Green beans are mostly safe for raw consumption, assuming they are properly washed. Even then, it is advised that you eat them in small quantities. Raw green beans do contain lectins, which can cause intoxication if consumed excessively.
It should be perfectly fine to add a small number of green beans to salads or soups, among other things. If you’re planning to eat lots of green beans, cooking them is certainly the safest option.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Raw Green Beans?
Both cooked and raw green beans offer many health benefits and are packed with essential nutrients, although cooked green beans contain slightly more nutrients.
Green beans are significantly rich in fiber which helps with many bodily processes such as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels. It can also reduce the risk of many types of inflammation and improve heart health.
In addition, green beans contain protein which is beneficial to muscle and bone growth as well as hair and skin health.
Green beans are rich in several vitamins, including:
- Vitamin K, helps to maintain bone metabolism as well as regulate calcium levels in the blood.
- Vitamin C, is essential to the development and maintenance of body tissues by producing collagen.
- Vitamin A, helps with cell growth and improves the immune functions of the human body.
- B vitamins, notably vitamin B-6. B vitamins are important for cognitive functions and help prevent mood disorders.
Several minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, and sodium are also found in green beans. These are essential to various bodily functions and improve overall health because of their high antioxidant content.
All in all, raw green beans can be a great and healthy supplement to a diet. However, to ensure you enjoy your raw green beans without risking your health, it is recommended that you do so in small amounts to keep your lectin intake low. And cooking green beans is the way to go if you are worried about them. Simply add beans to your slow cooker with some olive oil and they will be ready in an hour.
What Are The Risks Of Eating Raw Beans?
Some beans can safely be consumed raw, while others come with significant health risks. While you can eat green beans raw with no issue, other kinds can make you sick and may lead to serious complications.
The lectins present in raw and undercooked beans, especially raw sprouts, are very harmful and can lead to food poisoning and cause various unpleasant symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, stomach ache, as well as digestive system issues.
Kidney beans are the most dangerous to eat raw, and can be comparable to raw eggs. Their raw sprouts contain the highest concentration of lectins and can cause serious and life-threatening illnesses, especially when consumed in large amounts.
In most cases, symptoms caused by eating raw beans can go away after a week or so for healthy individuals. However, people with certain health conditions are highly advised to stay away from raw beans to prevent damage to their digestive systems which can cause health complications.
How To Eat Raw Beans Safely
There are a couple of ways to reduce the risk of eating beans raw. It’s worth noting that these won’t be enough for particularly harmful beans such as kidney beans. However, by following one of these two procedures, you can safely eat raw green beans and black eyed peas and other beans that are low in lectin.
You can make raw green beans safe to eat by leaving them in cold water for a day or two. This will eliminate most toxins and harmful compounds. It’s important that you replace the water every few hours and rinse the green beans in the process. The next day, the beans will be significantly softer; you can finally remove them.
If you want your raw beans to be easier to chew, sprouted beans are definitely the way to go. You can sprout the beans directly, but we recommend that you soak them first to remove toxins.
After the green beans are rinsed, put them in a clean jar and seal it tightly. Beans can easily develop mold, so they should be regularly rinsed. Once sprouts appear in the beans, they should be rinsed again and will be ready to eat.
Can You Eat Canned Beans Raw?
You can definitely eat canned beans directly, although they will not taste quite as good as when they’re cooked. However, you should keep in mind that they are never raw in the first place.
Canned beans are always pre-cooked and do not fit in a raw diet. The canning process involves cooking the beans at high temperatures to neutralize the toxins.
Some fresh, raw beans can go well with your healthy eating habits and help you to lose weight. However, their lectin content presents a considerable health risk. Many types of raw beans are particularly dangerous and should be avoided altogether. Some others, especially raw green beans, need to be properly soaked or sprouted before you can enjoy them as a main meal or side dish.