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BROAD BEANS  (Vicia faba)

 

It was 7,000 years ago, when the Hoabinhian people utilised the broad bean in their path towards agriculture, as shown by the seeds found in Spirit Cave, Thailand. Broad beans remained prominent and the seeds are mentioned in Hittite and Ancient Egyptian sources dating from more than 3000 years ago as well as in the Bible.

Broad beans can help to control blood sugar levels in those suffering with diabetes, lower the risk of colon cancer, prevent anaemia and reduce the risk of heart disease. Regular consumption can help to maintain the proper levels of iron and calcium in the body and they are very low in fat and cholesterol. To balance the diet, when meat and dairy products are reduce for cholesterol problems, all legumes are a healthy alternative providing the daily amounts of protein needed.

Levodopa is produced in the human body via biosynthesis from the amino acid tyrosine. Levadopa, also called L-dopa, is converted to the neurotransmitters epinephrine (adrenaline), dopamine and norepinephrine (noradrenaline) by the enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase in the brain. Levodopa, phenylalanine and tyrosine are precursors to the biological pigment melanin. Phenylalanine is also used to produce a number of neurotransmitters such as dopamine. Neurotransmitters are chemicals the brain and nerves use to communicate.

Broad beans are a natural source of Levadopa which has shown to be pharmacologically active in patients with Parkinson's disease and can be incorporated into dietary strategies to manage Parkinsonian motor oscillations. L-dopa can help to correct the underlying deficiency of endogenous dopamine release in the striatum. Having sufficient levels of L-dopa can also combat depression and anxiety while enhancing mood and improving the ability to concentrate and focus.

Broad beans are very easy to grow in the garden or a container but need plenty of water and feeding and support using canes and string. Black fly may be a problem and ants often farm black flies protecting them from predators. Food grade diatomaceous earth, flower of sulphur and vinegar can be used to repel ants as can peppermint plants or a few drops of peppermint essential oil in a water spray. This can help to remove their pheromone trails and discourage them from visiting your broad beans. Vinegar diluted in a water spray will also remove the black flies.

Broad beans can be frozen for use during the winter months.

Significant nutrients in broad beans:

Significant minerals in broad beans

 

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broad beans

Highest sources of tyrosine in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Chlorella (dried) 2600 mg

  • Spirulina (dried) 2584 mg

  • Sesame seed flour 2100 mg

  • Whelks 1518 mg

  • Caviar (fish roe) 1121 mg

  • Salmon 1100 mg

  • Lamb’s liver 1090 mg

  • Quail 1048 mg

  • Chicken 1047 mg

  • Calf’s liver 1044 mg

  • Peanuts 1006 mg

  • Beef (lean mince) 829 mg

  • Shrimp and prawns 810 mg

  • Pheasant 799 mg

  • Mackerel (tinned) 783 mg

  • Rabbit 776 mg

  • Pumpkin seeds 770 mg

  • Mussels 762 mg

  • Sesame seeds 710 mg

  • Sunflower seeds 666 mg

  • Turkey 660 mg

  • Soya beans 630 mg

  • Crayfish 532 mg

  • Pine nuts 509 mg

  • Eggs 500 mg

  • Squid 498 mg

  • Almonds 452 mg

  • Walnuts 406 mg

  • Wheat 400 mg

  • Rye 339 mg

  • Black beans 250 mg

  • Spinach 215 mg

  • Goat’s milk 179 mg

  • Mustard greens 119 mg

  • Cows’ milk 152 mg

 

Broad bean and salmon risotto

This healthy lunch or snack will provide sufficient amounts of the nutrients Levodopa and tyrosine mentioned above and is only around 311 calories per portion.

Ingredients

  • 300g (10oz) small new potatoes, halved

  • 250g (8oz) podded broad beans, fresh or frozen

  • 200g roasted artichoke hearts in oil, drained (reserve the oil)

  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

  • 4 spring onions, trimmed and sliced

  • 2 raw salmon fillets (about 300g/10oz)

  • Handful of mint leaves (about 10), cut into slivers

  • 100g (3½ oz) wild rocket or watercress

  • Grated zest of one lemon

  • One lemon, cut into wedges or slices, for serving

  • Large handful of pumpkin seeds

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Ground unrefined sea salt or Himalayan pink salt crystals

Method

  • Cook the potatoes in boiling water for 10 mins, add the beans and cook for another few minutes until the vegetables are just soft (fresh broad beans will take about 5 minutes; frozen, about 3 minutes).

  • Drain, then rinse under cold running water to cool them.

  • Take out the potatoes and put in a salad bowl, mixing in the oil from the artichokes, if any, or a tablespoon of the olive oil. Set aside to finish cooling.

  • Add the artichoke pieces (cut into smaller chunks if you prefer), sliced spring onions, lemon zest, seasoning and the rest of the olive oil to the beans then mix together and set aside.

  • Heat a small pan until hot, add the fish, skin-side down, and cook for about 3 minutes.

  • Turn fish over, cover and cook over a lower heat for another 2-3 minutes, until just cooked through.

  • Leave for 5 minutes in the pan until cool enough to handle, then skin the fish and flake it (discarding any bones) into the bean mixture.

  • Add the mint and rocket, and toss well.

  • Spoon on top of the potatoes in the salad bowl then sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and serve with lemon wedges or slices while the fish is still warm.

Associated subjects

"Nature cures not the physician..." Hippocrates 460 BC

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