Strange stuff about beans.

Dangerous Beans?

Okay, so they aren’t going to grow out and strangle you in your sleep — although they do grow very fast — but there are a few beans that are commonly consumed that, if not prepared right, can really hurt you!

Some beans are rather poisonous if not cooked. Yes, poisonous. Kidney beans, both white and red, (not green beans obviously, or we would have a lot of sick people) contain a compound called Lectin Phytohaemagglutinin- yeah I can’t pronounce it either — that stops you from digesting things correctly, causing severe digestive upset and severe cramps! Make certain you use the correct type of beans when making sprouts, please.

Photo courtesy of sashafatcat at

Also, Fava beans (vicia spp.) contain chemicals that can react with MAO inhibitors! Don’t eat these beans if you’re taking MAO inhibitor drugs. Broad or Fava beans can also cause a dangerous condition known as Favisim. This condition is common among Mediterranean and African ethnic groups, sometimes affecting as much as 15% of the population.

Beans, beans, the musical fruit…

Everyone during their childhood has probably heard this particular musical number. (If you haven’t, we are glad to be the first site you visited after climbing out from under your rock.) Yes, beans give you gas, but why? The extra pressure comes from a type of complex sugar called oligosaccharide and found in the beans that people can’t digest on their own. Notice, I said “on their own” because a type of bacteria that lives in our big intestine just loves this sugar and happily digests it for you.

Unfortunately, the little critters don’t have a intestinal version of the EPA to regulate their emissions, so they leave the “disposal” up to you! Well, that’s real nice of them isn’t it? Luckily there are several over-the-counter products made just for this situation. They help you digest the stuff before it gets out of control. Also, thoroughly cooking beans will help with this problem. Epazote may also help, although this may be just fiction.

Mexican jumping bean
No this isn’t a bean, it’s a yucca seed that has a worm inside it. It “jumps” to get out of the hot sun and escape predators. Not edible, although who would eat it?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sally 06.28.09 at 2:30 am

Can you eat baby lima beans green?

Nathaniel Harris 05.29.10 at 12:43 pm

Baby lima beans are edible when green and one of the better tasting of the bean varieties. I, being a Southerner and partial to black-eyed, field, and crowder peas, usually mix equal parts of green baby lima beans with them. However, they are just as good and tasty on their own!. Enjoy!

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