Fava beans nutrition

Fava beans nutrition is noteworthy for its high vegetable protein content, and dopamine precursors.

You are an exceptional person if you are reading this page, because the subject is of little interest amongst people scouring the web; perhaps it is because they are using the other name for favas, namely the broad bean.

Yet at times it rises to being the fourth most popular page at this site.

You have arrived here probably for one of two reasons. Either you have Parkinson's disease and are looking for a natural form of treatment, or you are planning to reduce the red meat in your diet; both are perfectly valid.

This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 10th August, 2020.

Green fava beans in shells

Favas are probably the most hated bean in the world and for good reason. I disliked them so much myself in my youth that I avoided them for over fifty years. The reason is simple; dried, or old and starchy, they are perfectly horrid and their nutrition is lessened too.

But once, a few years back, when I was served fresh baby fava beans at a dinner, I realised how for half a century I had been avoiding one of nature's delights.

There are three good reasons to grow and enjoy fava beans regularly; they do not thrive as well in the summer heat by the way, so you may need to freeze them if you want some for year round nutrition. I hate to recommend the dried ones; I do not like them either.

However, this year we have grown them through the summer and they have done remarkably well.

Health benefit of fava beans

  • They have the highest amount of vegetable protein of all legumes; nearly a quarter of the seed.
  • They taste absolutely delicious enjoyed young.
  • They are a far better source of dopamine for those suffering from the neurodegenerative diseases than the very expensive drugs, which have awful side effects.
  • Less likely to get macular degeneration.

Fava beans nutrition

Fava beans nutrition is about the treatment of Parkinson's disease, and I would suggest perhaps the prevention of it, though I could find no research confirming that.

The reason is that they contain large amounts of two chemicals, L-dopa and carbidopa, that are absolutely vitally needed by the body. Ask any person suffering from the disease and they will tell you that life without these two substances is not worth living.

This is all quite complex biochemistry, so we will leave it until last; if you have the disease and want to reduce or go without the medication then brace yourself, and get ready to have your brain stretched. It is important. And start looking for either a packet of seeds to plant in your garden, or a source of the fresh, young bean.

Vegetable protein

Whether we like it or not, within a few short decades, humans beings are going to be getting most of their protein from vegetables; more specifically, from legumes.

There are four reasons.

  1. Meat is going to become inordinately expensive; in fact it is already.
  2. It takes one tenth of the water to produce the same amount of protein from legumes as from animals.
  3. Climate change from the waste produced by animals rising into the atmosphere is going to destroy the planet; it is already.
  4. That waste is also going to pollute our water supplies, already in seriously short supply.

For many that is a problem for another day and the next generation to sort out; for the present we will continue to enjoy predominantly meat in some form for our protein.

But perhaps you like I have a tender conscience, and do not want your children stomping on your grave and cursing the way you contributed to the destruction of the planet; after all they will inherit it from us. Then it is time to start making a place for vegetable protein in your food, and there is no better place to start than with fava beans nutrition. 

Therein lies the rub; it will mean you have to start growing them yourself, unless you live in a place like Morocco and parts of England where they are available in the market place. It is not the slightest bit difficult.

Dried, or old and starchy, they are perfectly horrid. How to plant broad beans is not rocket science, but it will take you down new and enticing paths like getting your garden soil ready. In fact, most folk reading this page, have probably also already considered the subject and are even practising it.

Just how much protein we should be eating each day is a controversial subject, not to be discussed here, but as a rough guide, the average person needs about 50g per day, and a cup of fava beans would provide almost all of that; add an egg and you are home and dry.

Getting your garden soil ready is all about the virtues of humus and composting.

There is a lot of potential merit in minimally processed vegetable protein, if it actually means less red meat consumption.

However there is plenty of contention concerning the highly processed extracts that are being sold today.

Absolutely delicious fava beans

Fava and lima beans

The second reason I propose to enjoy fava beans is that they are absolutely delicious; if you can get them young and fresh. Otherwise, forget it, and stick to lentils and chickpeas.

I am writing here from a standpoint of practical experience. Ever since that day when I was deceived into eating young favas, not knowing what they were, we have been growing and enjoying them for over two thirds of the year.

During the hot summer months, we rely on pole beans and late in the season limas, another favourite legume. Year round vegetable protein is our goal. Not that we are vegetarians, but with so much metastatic disease about in our meat-loving family, I am determined to go down the road less travelled.

Broad bean pods

And I will add, that if you are prepared to take the time to grow and cook your own, fava beans are absolutely delicious; and you only have to simmer them for about five minutes; it is so easy.

We try quite hard to eat two different legumes fresh from the garden every day; okay, I will admit it, I am a bit of a fruitcake. Call me neurotic if you will but perhaps if you have witnessed first hand what malignancies can do to your family, then you will understand. In that pot above is a mixture of fava and lima beans. I will be turning that into eggs Hilton.

I will admit, legumes generally do not have much flavour; we add plenty of chilli and garlic and mix them with other vegetables like broccoli and spinach; and always with onion. 

Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's disease and fava beans nutrition are intimately linked; they are the only natural source of L-DOPA. Thus they can be used successfully in the treatment of the condition in many but not all cases. There are however numerous caveats.

  1. You will have to reduce the amount of medication taken.
  2. You will need a continuous supply of favas, also known as broad beans.
  3. The dose is difficult to manage, and you will need to weigh the beans and be prepared to experiment.

On the plus side, the medication is very expensive, and has nasty side effects. Those who use fava beans nutrition claim the effect is much longer lasting and there are far less of the dystonias.

There is another big plus. Fava beans nutrition are also a natural source of C-DOPA; more about that below.

My strong recommendation is that you first decide how you are going to grow them yourself so that you can pick them every morning from your garden, as I do, or find someone who can supply you daily or at least several times a week. We enjoy eggs Parkinson's disease daily.

Spring: green peas and fava beans.

Midsummer: Pole beans and the remnants of the favas if you are lucky.

Autumn: Pole beans, limas and favas.

Winter: Limas and fava beans.

Read more at how to plant broad beans.

GDNF

Researchers have reported that infusing a protein called GDNF directly into the brain resulted in major changes in a key area of the brain affected by Parkinson's disease.

Alas the treatment failed to improve the symptoms of the disease.

Enjoying a steady supply of fava beans nutrition also delivers L dopa, in a form which can cross the blood-brain barrier and have immediate access to the part affected by Parkinson's disease. Moreover, research shows there is immediate benefit and lessening of symptoms.

Pharmaceutical companies of course would far rather you took their very expensive but less effective drugs.

Ulcers and fava beans

A plentiful supply of dopamine, at least half of which is synthesised in the colon, also gives protection against gastro-duodenal ulcers.

The happy tum is now being called the second brain by researchers; it is profoundly important for the prevention of the neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson's disease.

Macular degeneration

Patients with Parkinson's disease taking dopamine medication are much less likely to get macular degeneration; it is the most common form of adult onset blindness. L-dopa from your fava beans gives profound protection for your eyes too.

Lutein[3] is one of two phytochemicals that help prevent the onset of age related macular degeneration.

The other is zeaxanthin.

The biochemistry

The biochemistry of Parkinson's disease is complex, but you will at least need to grasp some of the underlying processes. Here is a very simplified version.

L-DOPA is an amino acid; it is the precursor of several extremely important neurotransmitters. Since it is rarely found in the diet, only in those parts of the world where fava beans nutrition is the norm, it is synthesized normally in the brain from another amino acid; it is called tyrosine and is fortunately found in many protein foods such as dairy, fish and fowl, nuts and lima beans.

In a part of the brain called the Substantia Nigra, L-DOPA is converted into a neurotransmitter called dopamine which is then supplied to many other parts of the brain called the basal ganglia, one of the functions of which is inhibition to several motor areas. Without it the various dystonias of speech, lips and limbs occurs; there is loss of precise control of voluntary movement affecting the gait and causing tremors.


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Vitamin B6, pyridoxine, is required in the conversion of L-DOPA to dopamine.

The dopamine produced by the Substantia Nigra has many other functions in the brain too; the neurodegenerative Parkinson's disease has a wide ranging effect on the patient, since the dopamine-producing cells are destroyed.

Nitrates used as preservatives in bacon for example, and reheated cooking oils in fast food restaurants have been fingered as two causes of the disease.

On the other hand, regularly eating the spice turmeric(1) and coloured foods rich in flavonoids(2) protects the Substantia Nigra.

Parkinson's disease affects roughly one in five hundred people.

Carbidopa

L-dopa is converted to dopamine both before and after it enters the brain. Large amounts of dopamine in the muscles would cause involuntary writhing movements. In the normal healthy person, this carbidopa, also found in large amounts in fava beans, inhibits the conversion of L-dopa to dopamine before it reaches the brain preventing these spasms.

Like L-dopa, carbidopa cannot enter the brain proper, and thus does not affect the conversion of L-dopa to dopamine in the Substantia Nigra.

Parkinson's patients must either get their carbidopa from fava beans nutrition or as a drug to reduce the conversion of L-dopa to dopamine in the peripheral muscles of the body.

Pyridoxine

Once the L-dopa has entered the Substantia Nigra, the dopaminergic cells as they are known, convert it to dopamine; for this to happen correctly vitamin B6, or pyridoxine is required.

Both normal people, and those suffering from Parkinson's disease, must have adequate amounts of pyridoxine in their diet; without it all the fava beans nutrition in China will not help a scratch.

Luckily, and those who have read Fearfully, and wonderfully made, would agree that it is no coincidence that fava beans nutrition are also a good source of pyridoxine. The good Lord made them all. It is also widely distributed in various grains, meat, eggs and vegetables; nevertheless, circulating levels in the blood are low in many folk.

Chickpeas are the richest source of pyridoxine; we get plenty in the hummus I make twice a week. Vitamin B6 and frailty syndrome makes for an interesting read.

Take home

The take home from this is that the brain must have both L-dopa and C-dopa, otherwise it is unable to produce dopamine in the Substantia Nigra, as normally happens in the healthy brain. The Parkinson's patient can either get them from medicines or, if they are lucky, fava beans nutrition may be able to supply all or part of their needs. 

Either way, living without dopamine is almost impossible.

  1. Bernard Preston
  2. What are legumes
  3. Fava beans nutrition

Prevention of Parkinson's disease

I have been unable to confirm, or even suggest really that fava beans nutrition would help prevent Parkinson's disease. It is common sense that it would, but sometimes our logic can be quite erroneous.

In any case, eggs Parkinson's disease makes a wonderful breakfast; we have it daily for much of the year.

There are many other reasons confirming that those who frequent fast food restaurants on a regular basis, and those who eat processed meat full of nitrates are on the road, not paved with good intentions, but destined to suffer from serious disease; one of them is Parkinson's.

There is also evidence that an unhealthy colon, deficient in the microbiota, is also the source of many of the problems causing the neurodegenerative diseases. Taking a probiotic, or enjoying these kefir benefits is the solution.

We agree with Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, when he said let your food be your medicine. Amen.

Aquafaba

After cooking legumes such as fava beans or chickpeas, you will be left with a viscous, brownish and frankly smelly liquid. Usually it is discarded, but it in fact does have protein, carbohydrate and other plant compounds.

Exactly why it is called aquafaba rather than aquafava, I have no idea; perhaps because it comes from all legumes.

What is particularly interesting is its use as a emulsifying and foaming agent, and for thickening for example, instead of using cornstarch which is nasty stuff.

It can be used instead of egg white; I confess I have not tried it yet but plan to next time I make ice cream.

According to Wikipedia, use 2 tablespoons of aquafaba to replace the white of one egg. It takes a little longer to blend apparently.

My one initial concern, is that the phytates in your fava beans are reduced by the cooking and rinsing process; are we putting them back into our food? They reduce the absorption of minerals.

Keto and banting diets

I do not believe in diets; it is a dirty four-letter word and should be expunged from our thoughts and speech. Strong research shows that none of them work; after a year only 5 percent have lost weight and many have actually put on extra unwanted pounds.

However the keto and banting diets do have some merit; except that they prohibit the use of legumes because of their carbohydrate content. By turning us away from the protection of beans and peas like favas, and forcing us to eat more meat for protein, they are setting us up for other diseases, while lessening those associated with obesity.

Personally I would rather die from a good clean heart attack from too much starch and fat in the diet than from a nasty neoplasm that killed me slowly because I ate too much red meat.

So I have come up with the modified Banting diet which allows legumes but strictly limits all refined carbohydrates; those are the real devil when it comes to obesity. Type it into the site search function in the navigation bar at the top of this page.

Fava beans are listed as having a high glycemic index but that I believe is because, left to become too mature, they are double-podded; they are in fact refined.

Central to whether you can enjoy them is to understand the glycemic response to fava beans.

I am prediabetic and will test my blood glucose after a meal of fava beans when we have a plentiful supply in winter.

It is a choice between fresh legumes, dried beans and even minimally-processed plant protein.

Fava beans with cream and thyme

It interesting that fava beans are grown in all four of the Blue Zones of the world where vigorous old age is the norm. So we think up many ways of enjoying them.

This fava beans with cream and thyme recipe is incredibly delicious and can be rustled up in only ten minutes. If they are old and woody, forget it; in fact grow them yourself, it is not difficult.

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