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Are Green Beans Primal or Paleo? Do You Eat Them? Are They Healthy For Us?

I LOVE green beans. But, are green beans primal or paleo? Technically they are a legume. Legumes such as lentils, peanuts, black beans, red kidney beans, etc contain lectins which prevents our body from absorbing certain nutrients. And, we apparently did not eat them before the agriculture revolution.

But, is it possible that green beans are a different animal? I mean, they are a “bean” and technically a legume so should one not eat them? Do we have to worry about their lectin content? When you look at the nutritonal profile it is pretty attractive. But, so are other legumes and we don’t eat them. But, green beans are very unique and very different than a traditional bean such as kidney, black, garbonzo, etc.

When you compare by cup, green beans contain only 34 calories whileΒ black beans contain 227 calories. Half of a green beans’ carbohydrate content is fiber, where as a black bean has a lot more starch. All that I’m saying is that a green bean seems to be quite different than a normal legume. So, are they safe to eat?

I say yes. But, why?

Well for starters… Mark Sisson includes them in a recipe from The Primal Blueprint Cookbook. Also, Robb Wolf includes them in a recipe from his book that was released one week ago, The Paleo Solution. I still wanted to make sure so I researched Google and found the following thread on the MDA Forum: Are Peas and Green Beans Okay?

If you scroll down to the end you will see where Fiddlestix said the following…

Sorry to resurrect a somewhat old post, but green beans were just mentioned on Robb Wolf’s podcast “the Paleolithic Solution” and i thought it was worth sharing:

The Paleolithic Solution – Episode 12

He points out that the reason most legumes are off negative is the large amounts of lectin and green beans don’t have that. he calls them “benign” and says he eats them all the time.

i think where paleo gets a bad wrap is when it sounds silly when the only reason people know they don’t eat something is because “it didn’t exist 12,000 years ago” when in actuality there is a real reason related to how that food interacts with your body as to why you shouldn’t eat it.

on the same hand, if a legume is lacking the negative lectins and carb load… it is just fine.

So, there you go. I have not listened to the podcast myself but I believe it is safe to say that Green Beans are okay to eat. Sure, they are a legume but the lectin content is low enough to not worry about it.

I personally love green beans as they are available in abundance at my local farmers market. I think I will have to steam some green beans tonight for Dinner!

What are your thoughts? Do you eat green beans? Will you now if you have avoided them? What other foods do you think are questionable?

photo credit


  1. Glad you brought this up. I thought they were “off limits” so happy to see the evidence prove me wrong.

    My favorite way to make them: After you have prepped them (ends off etc.) place in a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil, toss, then sprinkle with sea or kosher salt, toss again. Spread out on a baking sheet and liberally sprnkle with garlic powder. Roast in a very hot oven(400-450) for 20-30 minutes or until they look done (sorry – not burned, a little brown, soft.) These are the best! I have a hard time even getting some when I make them as my kids go crazy for them.

    • I eat the same, but I need them more quickly than baking. I just place them in a ziplock bag and microwave for 3 mins. Then, I add oil, cumin, soy sauce, and pepper, shake, and eat. They are delicious for lunch at work, etc.

  2. I love tender, fresh green beans, provided they aren’t overcooked, but hated them as a kid (esp the green beans in bagged frozen mixed vegetables).

    Even though green beans are legumes, I never considered green beans off-limits, because unlike the dried mature legume bean seeds, it is primarily the non-starchy vegetable pod we are eating, with only a very small amount of immature bean seed and starch. Green beans are best eaten when young and tender, and very fresh, which is compatible with hunter-gathering.

    Hard, mature, dry legumes, on the other hand, are not a very likely hunter-gather food item, as they require harvesting, drying, shelling, storage/containment, and transporting (if the tribe is moving) and a fair amount of preparation (soaking/cooking/fermentation) before consumption.

    I agree, some of the paleo rational one hears is silly. And it isn’t a matter of “existing” 12,000 years ago, because of course the wild versions of neolithic foods “existed, but rather was it exploited regularly as a food item?

    • Excellent points. The beans inside the pod are so tiny that what we are eating is mostly, well, very nourishing. When we eat black beans we are eating a pure bean. Green Beans are so much different – thankfully!

  3. I LOVE green beans!!! The reason why I avoid certain foods is because they don’t make me feel good, or they have addictive properties, such as bread or pasta. I don’t have any of these issues with green beans! They are awesome and the kids love them too. I like to eat them with butter like
    AndreAnna above, or with a drizzle of olive oil! Yum!

    I also agree with againstthegrain’s comment above.

    • Exactly! I feel great after I eat green beans so why avoid them?! I will be going to my farmers market today and guess what I will be purchasing? Green beans!

  4. I just bought a big pile of green beans at the farmers market today! Mercola advocates green beans as a good vegetable for protein types. For some reason if you add cut up bacon to the green beans it brings the flavor to the next level. Thats always been the family recipe.

  5. I had been avoiding them because I thought they were bad like their other bean friends, but am happy to hear they’re not. So, thanks, I am going to get cracking with the beans slathered in butter.

    • Enjoy the green beans! Remember this… if you feel great after eating something then it is probably safe to eat!

  6. How auspicious! I was just discussing this with my wife tonight! I’m so happy to hear that green beans are good to go!

  7. I had the same question in my head since I started living primal. I was avoiding them, cool to know they are OK!! Just wondering, what did they say about peas?

    • I haven’t looked up anything about peas. I would avoid peas but sugar snap peas or snow peas might be ok… not sure though. You make the ultimate decision however!

        • I have no information on the lectin content but I personally avoid peas as they are a legume and don’t have a “pod” surrounding them like a green bean.

          • Actually, peas do come in a pod; apparently you’ve never picked peas fresh? That’s how the expression “two peas in a pod” came about. Peas aren’t legumes.

          • Ah, yes. I have seen peas in the pod before. So do you eat peas? Are you primal?

  8. I have never avoided them…and never will. They are my Low Carb staple, and always will be! You just cant beat fresh green and yellow beans straight from the garden. They are something I could eat every day.

  9. I agree with Fiddlestix. I have read that info from Robb Wolf’s podcast where he mentioned the low lectin count in greenbeans.

    So- here’s my answer: Technically speaking, green beans are still not paleo or primal. They are a legume, BUT one of the interesting ideas within the paleo community is that eating paleo isn’t about imitation of ancestry, it’s about optimizing your metabolism in a healthy way. If green beans have low lectins (so there’s little toxicity), why not eat them? I mean, who doesn’t like green beans cooked in bacon fat….mmmmm…..

    • Well said Ben. If you eat a primal/paleo diet then you avoid legumes but green beans are different… so may one eat them as you wish!

  10. I don’t eat beans because I hate the taste of them. But the paleo rule of thumb is if you can eat it raw it’s probably ok and you can eat green beans raw and therefore…..

    • You hate the taste of green beans? Well, if you smother butter or coconut oil on them then they become pretty damn good! I like them raw on there own myself πŸ™‚

  11. I love green beans. I do not currently follow the Paleo Diet but have cut certain things out of my eating (such as EVIL gluten) and really try to restrict grains. I am glad to hear that Cave Men would have approved! Nicely written article by the way, I look forward to reading more.

    • Hey Steve – welcome to my blog! Thanks!

      Have you ever considered eating a paleo diet for just 30 days and seeing how you felt? Its always worth a shot!

  12. Well, now I can go back to eating them, thank you so much! They were a huge part of my intake until a few weeks ago when someone pointed out they were a bean.. duh! LOL. Good to know that I can include them without the same issues as other legumes.

    • You’re welcome! You are one of many who ate green beans, then dismissed them just because they were a bean, and are now going to add them back in! I am sort of in that group as I just always went for other veggies instead but now will eat them with zero guilt.

  13. I haven’t eaten beans in almost a year. I am starting to experiment with food and find out how it makes ME feel, if it’s “allowed” or not is not a concern for me. For example, I know milk and wheat products are a big no, no for ME, I can not handle even a small amount (except beer). We must guard ourselves so we don’t end up like vegans and say some food is not “allowed”, or “don’t hurt the beans they have feelings”…

    • Haha right on! One must decide themselves how a certain food makes them feel as we are all different.

    • Spot on, Aaron.

      All these paleo ‘rules’ are becoming more and more like a dogma lately. The paleo/primal scene is heading the vegan way it seems.

      Lots of paleo dieters seem to be thinking that paleo is low-carb by definition (not evidence based).
      The rule “if you can eat it raw, it’s probably ok” is becoming “if you can’t eat it raw, it is not paleo” (cooking is a lot older than homo sapiens).

      …or even the question ‘is this paleo’ everywhere on the forums is stupid. I’d rather ask ‘is this healthy’ or ‘is this optimal’. Looking for food in the snow, being cold and hungry, is also paleo, but not necessary optimal.

      I do not consider myself paleo or primal. I do have an evolutionary view on health and diet. But I like it to be evidence based. πŸ˜‰

      Probably most of you would consider my diet primal, however. πŸ˜‰

  14. I love green beans so much that I can eat the cold from a can. Seriously.

    Unfortunately, I do react to them with bloating and inflammation. I tolerate legumes *really* poorly, and it’s not as bad as that, but it’s undeniably a problem.

    • Haha, I can too! I enjoy the fresh ones more though. That’s too bad though – but there are countless other awesome veggies out there!

  15. I love green beans,either stir fried or doused in olive poil or animal fat roast in a 500 oven for 10 minutes.

  16. I also love fresh peas in the pod. One of the few things I put effort into growing because nothing compares to picking fresh snow peas and eating them right there in the garden.

    • Sugar snap peas are a favorite of mine too. I did a post on those as well.

  17. I just wanted to say I love green beans! I love to pressure cook Green beans with bacon, simply the best and fast!

    πŸ™‚ Sara

  18. it seems to me that green beans are mostly fleshy ‘pod’ and very little ‘bean’

  19. I just started trying to eat Paleo a week ago… basically threw everything out in my cupboards, went to my farmers market today and bought all sorts of great stuff. I’ve been snaking all afternoon on raw green beans.. then it hit me, their beans!! Oh no! I LOVE green beans.. they can’t be on my “no list”
    Raced to my computer to “google it”.. whew! I’m so happy to find out I can continue to eat them guilt free! πŸ™‚

    • Welcome to the community! Yes, please do enjoy your green beans. It is best to experiment yourself. Avoid the foods you know are doing harm and add back in foods that you want to eat and that you think you do great on… green beans is one of these foods! Enjoy!

  20. Unlike other legumes, green beans don’t require hours of soaking to make them edible. Plus, you’re eating more pod than beans.

    Haricot verts is SO good when sauteed in coconut oil.

  21. I’ve been eating green beans the whole time–my whole family loves them (so much so that my daughter used to always grab hanfulls of them at the grocery store to munch on while I shopped…) and they are edible raw so not as bad as other legumes. Same thing with snow peas and sugar snap peas–even Melissa of “WellFed” uses them in stir-frys. And this past month, I even threw a few peas into my stews. Why? Because even though they’re sugary and a bit starchy, they can be eaten raw, they have existed forever, we probably did eat something similar way back in ancient times-fresh, not dried- and since they aren’t the main/staple veggie on my plate, why not? Funny enough, most varieties of native/wild pea and bean are toxic, so I wonder who’s bright idea it was to crossbreed it and make it edible and tasty? They must’ve found a species that wasn’t toxic somewhere on this earth…

    • Yes, sugar snap peas are in the same boat as green beans. I eat peas too! They don’t make me toot while other legumes do! Mark Sisson has a few recipes in his most recent cookbook with peas.

  22. I’ve been Paleo /primal for over 1 yr never had green beans thinking they were not approved… A sudden craving for them came about so I googled my question… And so happy to find this answer and specially coming from a great reliable source whom I’ve been following for a long while πŸ˜‰ Thanks!!

    • Glad you found me! Most folks find out sooner or later that green beans are awesome!

  23. Green bean pods are also said to have an influence on regulating insulin levels as well. Sometime try them in saute in good dark sesame oil and sweet red pepper strips and some cayenne flakes and toasted sesame seeds on top. (I know, I know — a nightshade. I draw the line at giving up red peppers. We all have our one friendly toxin.)

  24. Hidden amazon affiliate links.. really? Did you know that’s against their TOS?
    I was ready to jump on board till I saw that. You’re just another internet putz trying to con people. Thank goodness for sites like Mark’s Daily Apple… that never do that shit to people.

  25. Thank you for answering that question for me! I am new to paleo/primal eating – that is the EXACT question I googled and your response was first on this the list. Talk about synchronicity.

  26. I get green beans and snow peas being ok because they are immature legumes and lower in lectins than mature versions. What about snake beans? (Also called Chinese runner beans, asparagus beans, yard-long beans) My mom gave me a big handful she just harvested from the garden today. I looked them up and nutrition-data-wise they are close to green beans in carb and fiber content, no clue on lectin content. Also, they are closely related to black-eyed peas.

    Any thoughts?

    • Give them a taste and listen to your gut! πŸ™‚

      Think about green beans and sugar snap peas… both can be eaten raw. Black beans, pinto beans, etc. are not edible raw. So can you eat snake beans raw? If yes then perhaps they are similar to sugar snap peas and green beans. If you can’t, then I’d still try them myself. It’s local food πŸ™‚

  27. Thanks for this article. Green beans is one of my favorite because they are readily available in my farmers market. I am on paleo for a couple of months now, but I am not that “closed” minded on eating strictly eating a caveman diet. I carefully read about green vegetables that can somehow pass as paleo which brought me to your site today. Now I can have my green beans without “ruining” my diet regimen. πŸ™‚

    • Good luck! Please don’t ever become dogmatic about Paleo. I love the framework. High quality dairy is accepted, especially butter and cream. I was never a huge fan of legumes so that doesn’t mean much to me. And the way we eat grains in America is ridiculous. BUT none of those food groups are “bad.” Context matters πŸ™‚

  28. I am a housekeeper, and my employer ( and now me) eats paleo . i was unsure if green beans were paleo friendly, most of the sites i had found were on the fence. Thank you for breaking it down and explaining in a way that makes sense. (i’ve only been cooking paleo for 3 weeks.) to be on the safe side though i sliced all the pods and removed the seeds. then roasted with garlic and almonds.

    • Most importantly, green beans are YUMMY and make me feel great and most other people too. And they are nutritious and fun to crunch on raw. πŸ™‚

  29. What’s up with everyone putting butter on their green beans? I thought dairy was a no-no… ?

Comments are closed.


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