FoodFava beans: Nutritional powerhouse or hidden dangers?

Fava beans: Nutritional powerhouse or hidden dangers?

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19 June 2024 12:38

The fava bean season is in full swing. Many people love its unique taste, and this popular legume has loads of nutritional value. However, fava beans are not good for everyone. Sometimes, it is necessary to avoid them completely.

Fava beans offer many benefits. First and foremost, they are an excellent source of fibre, which helps keep our digestive system running smoothly. Thanks to the fibre, we no longer feel hungry and can avoid snacking between meals. Fava beans also have a lot of protein, folic acid, and vitamins and contain no fat. Nevertheless, there are situations where they can be harmful.

Favism. What is it?

Eating or even just the smell of fava beans can lead to dire consequences for people with favism, also known as bean disease or fava bean disease. Fortunately, this is a rare condition. It is caused by a genetic mutation that leads to an enzyme deficiency, causing red blood cells to have a significantly shorter lifespan. This can lead to anaemia. In people with favism, after eating fava beans, symptoms such as vomiting, headaches, pain in the lumbar region, abdominal pain, jaundice, and anaemia can occur.

Who should not eat fava beans?

There are several other conditions for which it is recommended to remove fava beans from the diet.

Gout. Fava beans contain many purines, which are dangerous for this condition. Purines can increase the production of uric acid, which, when deposited in tissues and joints, causes permanent damage.

Diabetes. Raw fava beans have a glycaemic index of 40, but after cooking, it rises to as high as 80. Therefore, larger quantities of fava beans are not recommended for this condition.

Uric acid kidney stones. In this case, the reason is the same as with gout. The high content of purines in fava beans can result in deposits in the urinary tract, leading to the formation of crystals and stones.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Eating fava beans can cause bloating and gas even in healthy individuals. This effect is due to the high amount of fibre, oligosaccharides, and fructose. For digestive system conditions, fava beans are contraindicated.

Hypothyroidism. Fava beans contain goitrogens—substances that can affect the functioning of the thyroid. They can disrupt hormone production by blocking iodine absorption.

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