The green bean originates in Central and South America. The green bean was domesticated in ancient times, but researchers can’t say exactly where, although seeds of cultivated forms were found in deposits from Callejon de Huaylas, Peru with a radiocarbon dating of 7680 B.P. and from 7000 B.P. in Tehuacán, Mexico, although atomic mass spectrometry dating contests this dates by measuring the age as only 2, 285 ± 60 B.P.
The green bean was introduced to the Mediterranean upon the return of Columbus from his second voyage to the New World in 1493. In Columbus's diary from November 4, 1492 he describes lands in Cuba planted with faxones and fabas "different than ours." Later he encounterd fexoes and habas that were different than the ones he knew from Spain. Faxones was probably the cowpea and fabas and habas was the fava bean. The beans Columbus found were undoubtedly what is now designated Phaseolus vulgaris .
The earliest depiction of a New World bean in Europe is thought to be the woodcut in the herbal published by Leonhart Fuchs in 1543. The bean spread into the eastern Mediterranean and by the seventeenth century was cultivated everywhere in Italy, Greece, and Turkey. In a 1988 study of the phaseolin structure of the common bean researchers traced the beans now grown in the western Mediterranean as ones originating in the Andes.
The phaselus and phaseolus beans mentioned in the Roman authors Virgil and Columella are now believed to be another leguminous plant in the genus Dolichus , that is, the hyacinth bean. Phaseolus is a New World plant and all the so-called phaseolus from the Old World have been re-classified as vigna .
There are four major cultivated species: P. vulgaris , P. coccineus (scarlet runner bean), P. lunatus (lima or sieva bean), P. acutifolius var. latifolius (tepary bean). A fifth species, P. polyanthus , is cultivated in the New World, but it is not found in Mediterranean cultivation. There are today many cultivars of green beans, more than 500, with variations in pod, texture, or seed color, for example the yellow wax beans. - Clifford A. Wright
Green beans may be a particularly helpful food for providing us with the mineral silicon. This mineral — while less well known that minerals like calcium and magnesium which are very important for bone health and for healthy formation of connective tissue. Green beans have recently been shown to stack up quite well against other commonly-eaten foods as a good source of absorbable silicon. - Worlds Healthiest Foods
Green beans and other green vegetables are a very good source of vitamin K, which plays an important role in bone health and the prevention of osteoporosis. Several studies have demonstrated that vitamin K deficiency is associated with low bone mineral density, and an increase in bone fractures. Vitamin K supplementation and an increase in consumption of vitamin K rich foods such as green beans have been shown to improve bone health. In one 3-year double blind placebo controlled study, 181 healthy postmenopausal women showed reduced bone loss of the femoral neck after vitamin K supplementation. - Elements For Health
The major health benefit of common beans is their ability to lower cholesterol due to their rich source of fiber. Studies have shown that the high fiber contained in beans prevents blood sugar levels form rising too rapidly after a meal. This makes beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance, or hypoglycemia. - Every Nutrient
Zeaxanthin is an important dietary carotenoid in the green beans that is selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea in the eyes where its thought to provide antioxidant and protective UV light filtering functions. It is, therefore, green beans offer some protection in preventing age related macular disease (ARMD) in the elderly. - Nutrition & You