Broad beans, or fava beans, are among the world's oldest cultivated beans. In their fresh form, they come with multiple beans in a large outer pod. Each individual bean also comes in a pod of its own that you can remove after boiling it for three or four minutes. Fava beans are used in recipes from a wide range of cultures, from Italy to Egypt to India to China. They also offer important health benefits.
Broad beans are rich in L-dopa, an amino acid that is instrumental in the creation of dopamine, a substance that is critical for the pituitary gland's production of human growth hormone. L-dopa, unlike dopamine, can pass easily through cell walls, enabling our bodies to use it. People whose pituitary glands are not producing sufficient amounts of dopamine can try to correct this condition by eating foods such as broad beans that are high in L-dopa, stimulating their systems to create dopamine.
Broad beans are also rich in potassium, which can have beneficial effects on blood pressure. Potassium is the third most important mineral in our bodies. Potassium deficiencies lead to lethargy, irregular heart function, and irritability and stress. But an excess of potassium can be dangerous as well, so doctors often hesitate to prescribe potassium supplements even when they believe a patient is suffering from a potassium deficiency. Potassium derived from foods like broad beans is a much safer alternative for maintaining healthy potassium levels.
Broad beans, like most other beans, are high in fibre. Fibre is an important digestive aid, making stools softer, bulkier and easier to pass. Beans are high in soluble fibre, which can have beneficial effects on cholesterol and triglyceride levels by cleaning out particles in the blood that contribute to the risk of heart disease. In addition, fibre helps to regulate blood sugar levels, therefore helping patients to control diabetes. Fibre may help to lower cancer risk as well by moving foods through the body faster and preventing build-up of carcinogenic substances.