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FAVA BEANS: THE LATEST SUPERFOOD

FAVA BEANS: THE LATEST SUPERFOOD

Fava beans - also known as broad beans - are one of the hottest things to eat this summer. High in protein and fibre, tasty and versatile to cook – there is something special about this often overlooked, tender little bean.

WHAT ARE FAVA BEANS?

The fava bean is one of the oldest cultivated crops in the UK and has been a Mediterranean mainstay for centuries.  In fact, fava was a most nutritious bean that fed ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.  And we all know there are many benefits to eating the Mediterranean way.

 After falling out of fashion for years in the UK, the nutritional benefits of  fava beans means they are making a comeback. In fact, all pulses are now health heroes, after the UN officially named 2016 as the International Year of Pulses.

WHAT’S SO SUPER ABOUT FAVA BEANS?

  • Abundance of nutrients. Fava beans are a nutrient-dense food, like all legumes. They are a rich source of vitamin A and provide good amounts of vitamin B1, magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorus, and potassium. 
  • Mood booster. Fava are a happy bean!  High levels of an amino acid called L-dopa (dopamine) will help boost your mood and resist depression.
  • Controls hunger. One cup of fava beans contains just 200 calories and 13g of protein, making it a snack that will help keep you fuller for longer between meals. A pot of simple broad bean hummus with some breadsticks or flatbreads is a great lunchbox option for work.
  • Meal variety. We don’t eat a lot of them and they’re in season only between March and June. So take the opportunity to keep your meals fresh and interesting. Eating seasonably and locally is also good for the soil, the economy, and your wallet!

COOKING AND EATING FAVA BEANS

Yes, you do have to shell them (unless you go the minimal-effort route and buy frozen ones) but the freshness is worth the effort.  Put them in a pan and cook in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Plunge the cooked beans into cold water. When cool, slit the side of each pod and slide the bean out. You can eat them whole with their skins on, but they’re much nicer without!

The bean has a creamy texture and slightly nutty taste, making it ideal to use in salads, stews, pastas and soups. Here are three delicious and healthy fava bean recipe ideas for you to try:

Jamie Oliver’s broad beans, garlic & feta bruschetta

 Salad of new potatoes with pancetta, broad beans & mint

Broad bean salad

the author

Kath Webb

Kath is a contributing writer for Hussle. Football, running, weight training, yoga and walking are her forte, along with cooking tasty, nutritious food - with a regular batch of cake chucked in.

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