What is French about the French beans?

by Sanjeev Kapoor

Ever wondered why French beans are called so? I did and I also did try to find out without much success.

What are French beans

These beans are the unripe fruits of any kind of beans, the pods of which are also called string beans. Their botanical name is phaseolus vulgaris. Around four inches in length, they are  slightly pointed at both ends. They are green in colour with tiny seeds held within their pods.

Their history

They are thought to have originated in South and Central America where their cultivation was started around 7000 years ago. When Christopher Columbus returned from his second voyage to the New World around the year 1493, he brought the French beans to the Mediterranean region. At that time French beans were considered rare and therefore expensive but very soon became one of the most commonly used beans. They were introduced to France in the year 1597 by the Conquistadors.

How nutritious are they

They are considered very good for health as they are rich in many vital nutrients which are necessary for proper growth and metabolism of the body. They have Vitamin A, C, D, E, K, Riboflavin, Niacin, Thiamine, Folate and Panthotheinic Acid. They also contain Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium and Zinc. Besides these they are also rich in Amino acids, Carbohydrates, Fibers, Water, Sugar, Proteins and Omega-3 Fatty acids. 

Health benefits

Since French beans are rich in dietary fibers they help in preventing the effects of cholesterol. They are good for the diabetics as they can help prevent blood sugar levels rising immediately after meals.

Being rich in iron, which is an important part of haemoglobin, these beans help in energizing the body whereas the presence of copper helps in proper synthesis of haemoglobin. The presence of Vitamin C helps in improving the immune system of the body. 

Culinary uses

French beans are indeed very versatile and can be used in preparing a number of dishes.  It is widely used in western cuisines as well as in Indian. They can added to stews, pulaos, biryanis, salads, soups, stir-fries, etc. Only remember that they should not be over cooked for they taste a lot better when they have a slight crunch. The possibilities are numerous. Only remember to snap off the two ends and then cut them as necessary for the particular dish you are adding them to.

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.