Australia’s Fava-ourite Beans

When it comes to adding beans into our diets, it may conjure up images of the stalwart beans of our childhoods, such as lentils, green beans, and even canned baked beans. But nowadays there seem to be an ever increasingly amount of healthy, protein and vitamin rich beans on the market for us to choose from. One of the bean varieties that has grown in popularity in Australia over the last few years is the Fava or Faba bean, a green legume that comes in a pod and has a slightly sweet flavour. These ancient beans originated from the Middle East during the pre-historic period (we’re not exaggerating on the “ancient” part) and have become a popular and sustainable commercial crop in Australian soils since the early 1980s.1

How are Fava beans grown?

Fava beans are known to be a fairly low maintenance crop to cultivate but require a few key elements to be in place in order to flourish and product a healthy yield for commercial production. They thrive in cool weather, are usually planted in Autumn months so that they can be picked and enjoyed in Spring,2 and the best soils are primarily those that are alkaline neutral, deep, and with a high clay content.3 Interestingly, some growers even use these low maintenance fava plants as a cover crop which can help to improve soil fertility and quality, prevent erosion and suppress weeds.4 Quite an  impressive little bean.

Why are Fava beans good for you?

But don’t let their low maintenance fool you – when it comes to vegetables, fruits or legumes that can offer a vitamin rich punch without breaking a sweat, Fava beans can hold their own. Described by health experts as dense with nutrition, fava beans offer us an option that swaps cholesterol and saturated fat for high doses of selenium, copper, vitamin K, potassium, vitamin B6, thiamin, protein, folate, magnesium and zinc.5 For these reasons, it’s no surprise that many Australia healthy snack food organisations, such as The Happy Snack Company, have chosen these little beans as the basis of a range of healthy snacks for adults and children.

In addition to the vitamins and minerals on offer, a small serving of fava beans comes with loads of soluble fibre, which has been shown to help with digestion and lower cholesterol levels overall.6

If we’re still not convinced on the benefits of fava beans, there are health studies that show how these small powerhouses of beany-goodness can assist in improving our overall health and diet to prevent illness and disease. For example, some health practitioners advise that regularly consuming fava beans may help to aid in weight loss as the high levels of protein and fibre found in fava beans, along with their low caloric rating, improve our likelihood of feeling full and may help to dissuade us from that second helping.7

So whether it’s having them in a pre-bought snack or including them in your evening meal, Fava beans have proven themselves to be an excellent source of vitamins, fibre and protein, and a great reason to branch out and include this powerhouse bean as part of a healthy diet.