Thank you Michele for this question on the All About Green Beans post.
Supposedly the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” implied that you were supposed to eat the whole apple, seeds and all. Did you know that apple seeds contain trace amounts of cyanide? Apparently, a little poison was thought to keep the doctor away, perhaps the poison would kill germs. I wonder if trace amounts of toxin found in raw green beans could do the same? Check out Shannon’s response below, she’s done some research and it seems unnecessary to repeat that process…
It turns out that beans contain a protein called phytohemagglutinin (PHA). Kidney beans seem to be the ones that contain the most of this toxic protein, and can actually hurt you if you eat them raw. I think why it’s not common to hear about PHA is that these beans are pretty much exclusively served cooked. Boiling beans for at least 10 minutes breaks down PHA and allows these beans to be safe for you to eat.
I found this post from Dave’s Garden blog to be a good resource in answering this question further, if you wanted to take a look.
Regarding green beans, I couldn’t find much information to support that they were toxic to eat raw. In fact this article on Livestrong claims that eating raw green beans “can help you reap the full nutritional benefits.” I know many people who eat green beans raw, and needless to say they are still alive.
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