Snap Beans, Green Beans, or String Beans...Whats the Difference?

Snap beans, green beans, or string beans…no matter which name you prefer, they are one and the same and in season! Green snap beans are categorized into two different groups, bush or pole beans, based on growth characteristics. If the bean plant needs support to grow, they are classified as pole beans; if the beans can grow on their own without added support, they are classified as bush beans. Spring and fall crops can be planted but the spring crop generally yields larger quantities. Also, it should be noted that the fall snap beans, although lesser in quantity, are often of a better quality than the spring beans. In Louisiana, Provider and Contender are some of the recommended varieties for bush snap beans and Kentucky Blue and McCaslin are some of the best varieties to grow for pole snap beans. Snap beans should be picked when they reach a length of 4-5 inches long and before the developing seeds begin to bulge on the bean. They should also snap when broken to indicate turgor and freshness of the bean.

The nutritional quality of snap beans is high due to a number of reasons:

  • low caloric density, only 31 calories for 100 g when raw!
  • very low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium
  • high levels of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients
  • high in fiber and protein

Snap beans are found to be a good source of some B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and some phytonutrients (lutein, zeaxathin, beta-carotene, etc.). They are also considered a very good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and manganese.

Here are some of the benefits of consuming snap beans:

  • promote weight loss and overall body health
  • reduce blood cholesterol levels
  • reduce risk of overall disease by decreasing free radicals in the body
  • can play a role in slowing the aging process
  • help to keep a healthy blood pressure
  • promote normal DNA synthesis and cell division
  • provide some protection against infectious agents
  • promote healthy bone development

Here are some ideas on how to incorporate snap beans into your daily diet:

  • Add them into a stir fry dish
  • Steam some snap beans, cauliflower, peas, and carrots for a quick easy side dish
  • Mix raw snap beans with some olive oil, garlic, feta cheese, and slivered almonds for a tasty side
  • Add to curries or soups
  • Grill some tomatoes, snap beans, and seasonings in tin foil on the grill
  • Make rice pilaf and include snap beans
  • Sauté green beans and mushrooms
  • Add snap beans into your own innovative dish or check out this recipe!

Green Bean Pasta Salad

Recipe Yield: 4 servings

Serving Size: 1 cup

1 can (16 ounces) green beans, no salt added, drained
2 cups cooked pasta (elbow or macaroni or other type of short pasta)
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup shredded cheese
3 tablespoons vegetable relish
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon mayonnaise, light
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon basil (optional)

1. Combine beans, pasta, onions, and cheese in a large bowl.
2. Combine the remaining ingredients and pour over vegetables and pasta. Stir gently.
3. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.
4. Enjoy!

Sources of information:
LSU AgCenter: Louisiana Vegetable Planting Guide
LSU AgCenter: Louisiana Home Vegetable Gardening
Self Nutrition Data, Search raw snap beans
Power your Diet, Search green bean nutrition facts
LSU AgCenter Smart Choices Recipe Book

4/13/2012 2:13:20 AM
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