Slender-stemmed, annual climber growing to 13 ft (4 m). Has pointed oval leaflets, curly tendrils, clusters of white or lilac flowers, and a bean pod containing kidney-shaped seeds.
Habitat & Cultivation
French beans are thought to have originated from South America. Today, varieties are cultivated all over the world. The ripe beans are gathered in summer.
Bean pods, beans.
French beans contain lectins, saponins, flavonoids, allantoin, amino acids, and sugars.
History & Folklore
French beans have been used since antiquity to treat diabetes. In A Modern Herbal (1931), Mrs. Grieve records that “because of the seed’s close resemblance to a male testicle… [ancient Egyptians] made it an object of sacred worship and forbade its use as a food.”
Medicinal Actions & Uses
In addition to being an important food in many parts of the world, French beans, and beans in general, offer several health benefits. As part of a balanced nutritious diet, they help to lower high blood pressure and raised cholesterol levels.
They are hypoglycemic and promote more stable bloodsugar levels. Like soy (Glycine max), they are estrogenic and will help reduce menopausal symptoms. The pods act as a medium-strength diuretic, stimulating urine flow and the clearance of toxins from the body. Powdered beans may be dusted onto eczema to ease itching and dry skin.