I was asked recently if green beans were Paleo what with them having the word “bean” in them and all. So I did a little research, to find out (a) why beans are not Paleo and (b) if the green ones are.
Generally, legumes are avoided on a Paleo diet because it has been maintained that they were not part of an ancestral diet. Anthropological evidence however supports the theory that early hunter-gatherers consumed small amounts of legumes. Many varieties were available to the Upper Paleolithic foragers and were undoubtedly consumed as this important food source would not have been overlooked.
Legumes are also avoided because they contain lectins, which can damage the wall of the small intestine, and phytic acid, which binds to important minerals during digestion robbing us of nutrient value. The lectin and phytic acid content of beans, particularly when not adequately prepared, make them potentially detrimental when consumed in substantial quantities. Lectins can be thought of as a plant’s natural pesticide and can lead to intestinal permeability. High phytate diets inhibit the body from absorbing important minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Both should be avoided.
Back to green beans. After all that, why would these be acceptable on a Paleo diet? As immature beans, their lectin and phytate levels are quite low. Also, only very small amounts of beans are being consumed as it is primarily the pod that is being eaten. Consequently, green bean consumption would be in keeping with ancestral foraging, and anti-nutrient exposure would be minimal – comparable to that of eating most other fruits and vegetables.
With that said, here is an awesome way of preparing them:
Ingredients for Grilled Green Beans
- green beans
- olive oil
- sea salt
Preheat grill at high heat.
Wash and trim beans and toss in bowl with olive oil to coat and a generous sprinkling of sea salt, or salt of choice.
Toss beans into a grill wok. If you don’t have one, go get one. Go to Target. Or Cash and Carry if you prefer family owned. You will wonder how you ever lived without one.
Place wok on grill and close cover. Check every few minutes and stir until done to your liking. About 8 minutes for done-with-a-nice-crunch. And note: these will continue to soften for a bit after removing from grill.
I guarantee you will want to make these again!