Broad bean entrepreneurs

Broad bean entrepreneurs must be experienced gardeners who can supply those suffering from Parkinson's disease with a regular supply of organic green legumes.

I guarantee you have not ever seen broad beans, also known as favas, in the greengrocer; not for many years anyway. The reasons are many, but it is a tragedy.

Folk do not like them because by the time they get to the consumer they are usually old and starchy; seed is often not available.

Green fava beans in shells.

If you are banting, all legumes are strictly off-limits, which is why we have modified the diet.

Broad beans have one very important phytochemical that you cannot easily get from any other natural source; it is called levodopa. This compound is utilised by a part of the brain called the Substantia Nigra, and the gut, to produce dopamine.

Actually lima beans do also have some L-dopa.

Researchers have found that many, but not all, sufferers from Parkinson’s disease benefit greatly from ingesting broad beans to boost their supply of dopamine; it does not have any of the side-effects of the drug and the influence is smoother and lasts longer.

There are many caveats though, and it is advisable that if you have Parkinson’s disease that you only start eating broad beans after discussion with your doctor; it is generally recommended that you begin with two tablespoons every day, working up to half a cup.

As with those with diabetes who start banting immediately having to halve their insulin, so those suffering from PD must reduce their medication or they may have increased dyskinesias and nausea.

Young broad beans, and their pods and even the young leaves, are the richest source of levodopa; half a cup may contain as much as 100mg of L-dopa. That’s how much we enjoy between us every day; they are simply delicious straight from the garden.

They are also a rich in vegetable protein and an excellent source of minerals such as iron and zinc, and many vitamins.

All very well you say, but what is the point if you cannot purchase any fresh, young broad beans? The whole world urgently needs entrepreneurs who will start growing them, planting a row each week for much of the year; they don’t like hot weather, so you would have to freeze some for midsummer.

Or simply eat the seedlings which have 20-times as much as the beans themselves.

Of course, he or she would have to build his business, find his clients, and arrange to supply them with fresh young broad beans each week; perhaps even daily. Parkinson’s medication is extremely expensive; it could be a very profitable venture.  

I made a small estimate; five pods produced 25 young seeds, weighing about 20g, roughly two tablespoons or a 1/4 cup. So, to begin testing yourself, you would need 30 - 40 every week. I would not give you the time of day for old broad beans.

In fact, the pods of young broad beans have even more dopamine; then you wouldnnot have to shell them.

Planted directly in the ground we had difficulty persuading them to germinate, but kept moist in a warm dark place between sheets of newspaper, they sprouted very quickly.

Alternately, if you are suffering from PD you could grow them yourself, if you can find the seed. We luckily had kept back some of the pods last year.

Just a thought for someone who is out of work and loves to till the earth and enjoy its benefits.


Broad bean seedling.

Many researchers have shown that broad beans improve the clinical features of Parkinson's disease, often far better than medication. However the seeds are not readily available during the whole year. The solution is to grow seedlings.

The L-Dopa content of broad bean seedlings is 20-times greater than in the fruit[1].

Young broad bean plants.


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Aphids and black fly particularly love broad beans. The entrepreneur must be watchful or he may lose his whole crop.

Their is an organic solution; it is known as white oil.

He will also need to become a white oil manufacturer, as it is very easy to make at home; washing-up liquid plus a light cooking oil.

Broad bean entrepreneurs

Broad bean entrepreneurs are needed to grow the legumes for Parkinson's patients; and of course for those who are looking to eat less red meat and need legumes for protein.

Organic red meat is difficult to get and expensive; and frankly you are never really sure that it is what is claimed, unless you know the farmer personally. I know that for a fact.

Of course, it is exactly the same for honey and most foods. Shopping at your local farmers' market or Reko is the solution; get to know the supplier and even ask if you can visit them so you can see for yourself.

If your potential cliets are sceptical, persuade them to try fava beans with cream and thyme. It can be made in only fifteen minutes using young pods.

A caution

An oversupply of dopamine to the brain has bizarre side effects on Parkinson's patients; they may develop impulsive behavioural traits such as gambling and shopping sprees.

Whilst adding broad beans to the diet can be marvellous of those suffering from the disease, medication has to be gradually reduced and even eliminated. This needs to be done in collaboration with the family and their doctor. Read more at Parkinson's pill shock[3].

This case history confirms that Parkinson's patients can be well controlled with the L-dopa from broad beans, however the authors caution against overconsumption, particularly if also taking medication[2].

Poached eggs on fried sourdough bread can be quick and healthy; it's perfect to add a few lima or broad beans.

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56 Groenekloof Rd,

Hilton, KZN

South Africa