Because green beans should only be eaten well cooked

In Germany, the consumption of vegetables is growing, but consumers are often not attentive to the right methods of cooking various foods

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In Germany, the consumption of vegetables is growing with a view to a healthier diet. But consumers are often not careful about the right cooking methods for various foods and risk serious health consequences. 

Green beans are part of the legume family and can easily be found on supermarket shelves during the summer months. They are a source of proteins and vitamins and offer many benefits for our health. But be careful to always consume them after having them well cooked, if you do not want to run the risk of 'intoxication'. 

Indeed, in the past year alone, poison centers in Germany received an unexpectedly high number of requests for help in relation to the intake of green beans. The change in eating habits in homes due to the pandemic wave may have had this side effect. In fact, various studies show that people in Germany have started consuming more vegetables and cooking more often at home than they did before the pandemic, but not always adopting the right cooking methods.

Unlike other types of vegetables, green beans cannot be eaten raw - explains the professor Andreas Hensel, president of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung, BfR). - Raw green beans contain lectin, a protein which can be harmful to human health even in small doses, and which can only be destroyed at high temperatures.

In modern recipe books, more delicate cooking methods are preferred, such as steaming or stewing, which keep the vegetables crunchy and cause them to lose few vitamins. Green beans, however, need to be cooked for a long time and at high temperatures: if the lectin is not broken down during cooking, it can cause abdominal pain and nausea; in severe cases, bloody diarrhea, fever and low blood pressure can. These symptoms appear two to three hours after taking raw or undercooked green beans.

Particular attention should be paid to children, who may unwisely ingest some raw green beans and who are particularly exposed to these risks given their very low body weight. In case of accidental ingestion the BfR recommends taking the child to a poison control center.

However, let's not demonize this food which, if cooked correctly, is highly digestible and contains many nutrients useful for our well-being. Here are some recipes to consume green beans in a tasty and healthy way.

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Source: BfR

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