Navy beans or Boston Pea beans are a subspecies of white beans in the Fabaceae family of legumes. The beans are one of the most sought-after in the North America and Europe for their wholesome nutritional properties.
Binomially, haricot beans belong to common bean cultivars in the Fabaceae family, and the genus: Vigna.
Scientific name: Phaseolus vulgaris.
|Navy (Haricot) beans.|
Navy bean is a small bush-type bean plant. It flourishes in well-draining, sandy soil with adequate moisture. Among the other white bean cultivars like Great Northern and white kidney beans, the navy also is a short-duration crop and takes 70-90 days from seedling to harvest.
Each cylindrical bean pod holds about 4-7 seeds. Navy's are small, plump, cowpea-size, oval, slightly flattened beans, encapsulated within a thin white skin. Boiled navy has a fine, buttery texture and a pleasant sweet beany taste.
These large white haricot beans are generally considered the prize of the bean family in France.
100 grams of navy beans carry 354 calories, and 22.33 g or 40% of recommended daily allowance of protein.
Unlike soybeans, haricots contain only small amounts of isoflavones antioxidants. Total value of isoflavones is 0.27 mg per 100 grams of beans; daidzein and genistein at levels 0.01 mg and 0.20 mg respectively. Isoflavones have been found to reduce post-menopausal cancers and osteoporosis.
Haricots carry relatively less amounts of dietary fiber among the white beans. Nonetheless, they carry higher fiber than lentils and some green beans. Dietary fiber works as a bulk laxative that helps to protect the colon mucosa by decreasing its exposure time to toxic substances as well as by binding to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon.
Dietary fiber has shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels by decreasing reabsorption of cholesterol binding bile acids in the colon.
Navy beans do not contain gluten-protein. For the same reason, they preferred as protein rich gluten-free food alternatives in gluten-allergy and celiac disease patients.
Haricot beans are one of the finest sources of many B-complex vitamins like folates, pyridoxine, thiamin (vitamin B-1), pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and niacin. Most of these vitamins works as co-factors for the enzymes in carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism.
Dry navy beans hold 364 μg of folates (94% of DV). Folate, along with vitamin B-12, is one of the essential co-factor for DNA synthesis and cell division. Adequate folate in the diet around conception and during the pregnancy may help prevent neural-tube defects in the babies.
They indeed carry ample amounts of minerals. 100 g of dry navy hold calcium-15%, iron-69%, manganese-62%, phosphorus-58% and zinc-33%.
100 g of beans hold 1185 mg or 25% potassium. It is essential electrolyte of cell and body fluids which helps to counter pressing effects of sodium on heart and blood pressure.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||% of RDA|
|Total Fat||1.50 g||7.5%|
|Dietary Fiber||15.3 g||40%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.744 mg||15%|
|Vitamin A||0 IU||0%|
|Biochanin A||0.02 mg|
Dry as well as canned haricot beans can be readily available in shops across the US and Canada. Choose dry, uniform white beans in packets as it ensures in unvarying soaking and cooking time. Avoid beans with broken, crack, or cuts on the surface as they do not stay-well once boiled or canned.
Dry navy stay well for many months. At home, store dry beans in an air-seal plastic/metallic bin and place them in a cool, dry place away from high temperatures and humidity.
Navy beans are the most sought after among white beans in the USA, Canada, and Europe.
Cooking often requires soaking in cold water for 3-5 hours. They cook easily than other white bean varieties. They can also be boiled simmer for 1 hour or Pressure cooked with soaking for 20 minutes and without soaking for 20-30 minutes. Soaking and boiling also help eliminate anti-nutritional compounds and reduce flatulence.
Here are some serving tips:
|Baked haicot beans
Photo courtesy: Ewan munro
Navy beans feature in famous Boston baked beans recipe and Senate Bean Soup in the US.
Generally navy beans used boiled in dishes and mashed in dips.
The navy (haricot) beans employed in soups, stews mixed with other complementing herbs, spices and vegetables.
Soissons (large navy beans) are also chief ingredients in the slow-cooked casserole (cassoulet), which is made with Toulouse sausage, lamb and preserved goose, topped with a layer of breadcrumbs in the French cuisine.
Consumption of raw, soaked navy beans can cause phyto-hemagglutinin (lectin) toxin poisoning, a condition which may cause clumping of red blood cells in humans. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Cooking in pressure cooker eliminates the toxins and make navy consumption safer. (Medical disclaimer).
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