Fava beans, also known as broad beans, are native to the North African and South Asian regions. They’ve been part of the Mediterranean and Asian diet since ancient times along with other legumes like lentils and peas. Fava beans are boiled, stir-fried, roasted, soaked and prepared in a multitude of traditional dishes from Greece to Nepal.
This really isn’t surprising as these beans offer a lot of proteins and minerals. For example, a hundred gram serving of fava beans contains 26 grams of proteins. The same serving can also provide 50% of your body’s daily need for iron and magnesium.
Unfortunately, some individuals with a particular genetic deficiency and those taking a certain type of medication will not be able to take advantage of this nutritious legume. Read on to discover the negative effects of fava beans (and be sure to also check out recommended soak times for beans, grains, legumes, nuts and rice).
Risks of Fava Beans:
Favism is a relatively rare medical condition where eating the beans causes acute hemolytic anemia. What basically happens here is that red blood cells are destroyed at a rate that the body can’t easily replace. It’s a genetic disorder. The body lacks the normal ability to deal with the substances in fava beans that cause the anemia.
The name of the condition is derived from the name of the beans. Among other types of legumes, fava beans seem to be the type that consistently triggers the negative reaction. These beans have the disadvantage of containing vicine and covicine. These substances are called glycosides, sugar combined with a non-carbohydrate compound. Once they enter the body and are transformed, they can break up the membranes of red blood cells or produce hydrogen peroxide, a separate substance that produces the same damaging effect.
Under normal circumstances, the body is able to produce an enzyme that counters the effects of these substances. This enzyme is called glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD). Its function is to provide the body with enough glutathione, which in turn keeps harmful oxidants like vicine, covicine and hydrogen peroxide in check.
However a person afflicted with favism is deficient in producing G6PD enzyme. There are varying degrees of this condition. Fava beans and other types of legumes might have to be excluded in the most severe cases. In milder conditions, certain legumes might be okay but consumption may have to be significantly reduced.
Beans are generally considered to be good sources of protein. But there is one particular amino acid in fava beans, called tyramine, which can be problematic. The trouble happens when food rich in this amino acid is eaten while also taking a pharmaceutical drug called monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). This is antidepressant medicine.
As the name of the drug states, MAOI’s inhibit the monoamine oxidase enzyme. One of the functions of this enzyme is to regulate the levels of tyramine in the body. With this drug in the system, the body loses the ability to control this amino acid. The result is a dangerous increase in blood pressure. Thus people prescribed with this medication are always advised to go on a low-tyramine diet. The restriction includes fava beans, as well as aged cheeses, cured meats and fermented products.
In the next post, I’ll tell you the negative effects of soy beans and why you should avoid them to succeed in your quest to Become Superhuman.
In the meantime, if you care to jump ahead, here is a complete listing of the grains and legumes on Superhuman Food Pyramid:
• GMO Corn
• Soy Nuts
If you have questions, comments or feedback about the negative effects of fava beans, the Superhuman Food Pyramid, this website, or other aspects of Becoming Superhuman, then leave your thoughts below, as well as any tips you have on the negative effects of fava beans.