Green beans are a food item in the same family as black beans and kidney beans. They consist of a green pod with small seeds inside, and both are usually eaten together as a single unit. Green beans are sometimes called string beans or snap beans. The term "string bean" comes from the preparation routine that involves removing a stringy piece of fiber from the back of each bean before cooking. Many newer strains of green beans don't actually have a string anymore, and the only preparation required is snapping off the ends.
The beans are normally eaten fresh, and when purchasing them, it is generally important to choose beans of the highest quality. Most experts say that a bright green color is a good sign, and there shouldn't be bruises or any other noticeable flaws. The beans should generally be firm and crisp, and they should make an audible cracking sound when broken. It is important to store beans in the refrigerator until right before they are cooked, and it is a good idea to wash them before cooking.
Most nutritional experts think green beans are a very healthy food item. They are generally high in important vitamins and fairly low in calories. The green bean is also relatively high in fiber, which can aid in digestion, and they have a lot of vitamin K, which can potentially help a person maintain sturdy bones. Some nutritionists believe that green beans could be very useful in the fight against heart disease. They have several vitamins that help reduce the amount of cholesterol that builds up in the blood vessels.
People generally cook green beans as a side dish or as a small part of a larger dish, and they are rarely used as a main course. In many cases, they are simply boiled in water with very little additional preparation. They are also used in a huge variety of different recipes from soups to casseroles, and different cultures have different approaches to their preparation.
The green bean was first domesticated in the South American country of Peru by native tribes in the area. From there, they spread throughout the New World. In the 16th century, Spanish sailors returning from the Americas finally introduced the green bean to Europe, and it quickly became a popular food item. Eventually, they were spread all over the world. The green bean has gradually become more popular over time, and they are eaten in a wide variety of places.