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Can You Eat Fava Bean Skin?

Kristie Leong M.D. is a family practitioner who believes in the power of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle to prevent and fight illness.

Fava bean skins aren't harmful, but the outer coating is bitter and tough.

Fava bean skins aren't harmful, but the outer coating is bitter and tough.

Can you eat fava bean skin? Fava beans aren't as popular in Western countries as they are in Mediterranean regions where chefs and home cooks use them in various dishes. These beans have a mild, slightly sweet flavor that makes them a tasty addition to a variety of recipes.

Fava beans make a delightful addition to bean salads, soups, and stews. But if you're sitting at a table with a bowl of fava beans in front of you, you might wonder: Can you eat fava bean skin? Or should you remove the outer skin before munching on these fiber-rich beans?

Can You Eat Fava Bean Skin?

Fava beans are encased in a thick outer coating that protects their soft, starchy insides. You might wonder whether skin or covering is safe to eat. Fava bean skins are edible—but you might not want to eat them.

The skins aren't harmful but the outer coating is bitter and tough. That’s why most people shell or remove the outer skins before cooking them. Doing so improves their taste and makes eating them more enjoyable.

How to Remove the Outer Skin

The simplest way to remove the skin from fava beans is to boil them in water for a minute. Then, remove the beans and drop them into ice water. This loosens the skins so you can easily remove them.

Are They Healthy?

Yes, fava beans are healthy. They're high in vitamins and minerals which makes them a healthful addition to your diet. They also provide manganese, magnesium, copper, zinc, and iron, as well as many B-complex vitamins, including thiamin (B1), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), and riboflavin (B2) and also contain some vitamin C. The beans are also a good source of phosphorus, protein, and dietary fiber.

In addition, fava beans, like other beans, contain antioxidants that fight free radicals that damage cells and contribute to disease and aging.

They Are Versatile

You can eat fava beans raw or cooked. They have a mild, slightly sweet taste that makes them easy to include in a variety of dishes.

Despite their health benefits, fava beans can cause digestive upset. Some people are sensitive or intolerant to fava beans and have problems digesting them. These folks develop symptoms like abdominal pain, gas, or bloating within hours of eating them.

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Those who are allergic to fava beans can experience lightheadedness, dizziness, or abdominal pain within minutes of eating them. If you have a severe reaction to the proteins in the beans, avoid eating them altogether.

Certain People Should Not Consume Fava Beans

People who have a condition called GSD IV (glucose storage disease 4) cannot consume fava beans because they lack an enzyme called glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) they need to break down compounds in fava beans. People with this condition develop hemolytic anemia when they eat them. But for most people, fava beans are a healthy food.

How to Eat Fava Beans

Whether you remove the outer skin of these beans or not, you need to know how to prepare them. Fava beans, also called broad beans, are a popular seasonal vegetable in Mediterranean cuisine.

They're similar to edamame and lima beans, but they have a more hearty, earthy flavor. There are many ways to enjoy these tasty legumes, including as an appetizer or side dish.

Fava beans pair well with Mediterranean dishes such as hummus or babaganoush, but you can also use them as a garnish on other foods.

You can also cook fava beans with olive oil and garlic for a simple side dish or add them to salads for added texture, fiber, and nutrients.

Here's another idea. Top toast with fava beans and goat cheese for a quick snack or sprinkle them on scrambled eggs or omelets. Fava bean skins pair well with hummus and baba ganoush for a unique twist on classic dips.

More Ways to Eat Them

  • Boiled: Boil until tender but still firm enough to eat whole. Then serve them cold with lemon juice and olive oil dressing.
  • Fried: Fry until browned on both sides (this will take about 3 minutes per side). Drain on paper towels before serving hot or cold with lemon juice and olive oil dressing
  • Sauteed: Sautee in olive oil and serve them as a side dish with salt and pepper.
  • Pureed: Puree and add to your favorite hummus recipe for a boost of protein and fiber.

How to Buy and Store Fava Beans

You can buy fava beans at most grocery stores. They come in pods or as shelled beans. Both are edible but will taste better if you remove the outer skin before eating them. It's also helpful to soak fava beans overnight and discard the water they soaked in. This reduces compounds that make the beans harder to digest.

Can You Eat the Skin?

The skins are edible and nutritious, though, and contain fiber but you may find the beans more enjoyable if you remove their skin. Regardless, you'll get a healthy dose of nutrients and fiber. Enjoy!

References

  • Puertollano MA, Puertollano E, de Cienfuegos GÁ, de Pablo MA. Dietary antioxidants: immunity and host defense. Curr Top Med Chem. 2011;11(14):1752-66. doi: 10.2174/156802611796235107. PMID: 21506934.
  • "10 Impressive Health Benefits of Fava Beans." 06 Dec. 2018, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fava-beans.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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