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Fava Beans - Interesting New Research

 
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I never thought much about fava beans. But apparently they're a protein powerhouse, growing without nitrogen fertilizer and in fact fixing lots of nitrogen in the soil. But there's a catch -- an enzyme that makes some people sick. Researchers have been working to identify and eliminate that. This has interesting possibilities. Seeds possibly available in 2022.

https://saskatoon.ctvnews.ca/saskatoon-researchers-help-unlock-the-potential-of-the-fava-bean-with-huge-ecological-consequences-1.5501874

Here's the abstract for the published article in Nature: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41477-021-00950-w
 
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It's neat they are doing this.  I'm curious if they are breeding or splicing to get to the end result.  

One of the things I noticed with Favas, is by the time they are flowering the node thingies with the nitrogen are huge but once they are ready to harvest, it's gone.  The crops grown in the same place the next year don't show any added nitrogen.  But when favas are used as green manure, the next year crops have loads more leafy growth.  

Personally, I just eat and grow chickpeas.  
 
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Certainly they could engineer the pathway out of fava beans knowing what they now know from that research.  Nevertheless, they mention that a natural insertion has occurred in the gene making the toxic glucosides, so it's likely that additional parent lines could be found with reduced or absent glucosides in this category.  It would be interesting to see if those varieties with low vicine and convicine are more prone to insect predation or disease susceptibility.  Nice work!....
 
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I love favas, never had any health issues with them. I thought that was only in some people. I like them because they can be overwintered, still working on the timing here, but in the Bay they were amazing. They freeze well. Good to know that they are high protein as I struggle with getting enough protein.

I'm growing chickpeas for the first time here, but I suspect my uses will be different than the favas.
 
John Weiland
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Stacy Witscher wrote:I love favas, never had any health issues with them. I thought that was only in some people.....



Yes, correct.  The following from an NIH website link:  "Fava beans contain the compounds vicine and convicine. These chemicals are metabolized to divicine and isouramil, which are potent oxidizing agents. In persons with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, these compounds cause hemolysis by disrupting the red cell wall."

The bold text suggests that not all people have this deficiency and will tolerate the 'normal' fava bean varieties just fine.  I recall having a similar discussion around the palate for beef liver.....which I can't stand, but my wife loves.  I sometimes wonder why that vote for or against the taste of beef liver runs so sharp dividing a polled population.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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John Weiland wrote: I recall having a similar discussion around the palate for beef liver.....which I can't stand, but my wife loves.



And then there's cilantro. Most people can't get enough, including my dear wife.

To me, it's nasty, disgusting stuff -- who poured stinky soap on my food? My mother and sister strongly agree. It's a genetic thing.

But it won't make me physically ill, only ill-tempered.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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The article linked above says "for an estimated 400 million people worldwide who are deficient in a certain enzyme, digesting fava beans can trigger the blood disorder, known as favism."

This is a substantial subset of the population, and it seems this is why it has never become a mainstream, widely produced food source. Despite its potential environmental benefits, you can't just put it in the supermarkets or in prepared foods. Yet.

 
Stacy Witscher
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It's weird because most people that I've met don't even know that it's a potential problem. It's a pretty standard spring vegetable in fine dining. I wonder how many people we served it to that got sick. Another one that can be problematic is fiddle head ferns.
 
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It is a staple food in many cultures.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Stacy Witscher wrote:It's weird because most people that I've met don't even know that it's a potential problem. It's a pretty standard spring vegetable in fine dining. I wonder how many people we served it to that got sick. Another one that can be problematic is fiddle head ferns.



If I am reading it correctly, it's the mature bean seed that contains the substance of concern. There is no mention of a problem with the greens.
 
Stacy Witscher
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Interesting. I've never eaten the dried beans before, not really a fan of most dried beans, but the fresh are lovely.

R Ranson - That's what I thought, very common in the Mediterranean, called ful medames or other similar names.
 
r ranson
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Pre age of exploration,  favas were a staple in most of post roman empire Europe.
 
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Interesting
As much as I know boiling broad beans for 10 minutes breake down compounds that make people sick. That's what I was told when I was a kid. Luckily I can eat them raw.
Here I am saving seeds from Lothouse's broad beans. That might be a criteria for elimination for next generatiions. A very laborious one, but sure why not.
 
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Neither fava beans nor chianti ever seemed to bother Hannibal Lecter.

JOhn S
PDX OR
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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It seems that cooking does not destroy the compound involved in favism. I suppose that's why there is reluctance on the part of food manufacturers -- liability issues. Hence the research.

A couple of interesting reads from Wikipedia:
Fava/broad beans: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicia_faba

Favism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glucose-6-phosphate_dehydrogenase_deficiency

I know, I know, Wikipedia isn't the last word on any subject. I do appreciate how it frames the parameters of the debate, allowing me to ask good questions.
 
s. ayalp
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Douglas Alpenstock wrote:It seems that cooking does not destroy the compound involved in favism. I suppose that's why there is reluctance on the part of food manufacturers -- liability issues. Hence the research.

A couple of interesting reads from Wikipedia:
Fava/broad beans: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicia_faba

Favism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glucose-6-phosphate_dehydrogenase_deficiency

I know, I know, Wikipedia isn't the last word on any subject. I do appreciate how it frames the parameters of the debate, allowing me to ask good questions.



Definetly. It helps a lot.

That being said, when an age old info comes up I dont discard it even if it does not make much sense. When I was a kid I loved to run under ladder (I dont know why I did that, just doing it) My grandmother told me it is actualy a veery big sin. I didn't check it and I was 25 years old when I learned that there is no such thing What I am tring to say is there is usually some truth or a reason behind any age old info. This age old made up "sin" probably helped saving someone breaking his arm/leg.

About fava beans - And I really dont want this to turn it into here is an info, see this article type of discussion - nor permies is a place for that (we dont like that here).
I checked and came up with this article : https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924224419301992

where it says:
"Vicine and convicine are thermostable, but their concentration can be greatly reduced by soaking the seeds in water or in a weak acid solution (Hegazy & Marquardt, 1983; Jamalian & Ghorbani, 2005) prior to cooking. Thermal processing such as boiling, roasting, microwave irradiation, and frying can reduce the v-c content in faba bean seeds (Hussein, Motawei, Nassib, Khalil, & Marquardt, 1986; Ganzler & Salgó, 1987; Muzquiz et al., 2012; Cardador-Martinez et al., 2012). In addition, the combination of enzyme treatment with fermentation (Pulkkinen et al., 2019) or of alkaline extraction with acid precipitation can reduce v-c content by more than 99% (Vioque, Alaiz, & Girón-Calle, 2012). However, removal or destruction of v-c by dry milling for protein concentration on an industrial scale is problematic because air classification of faba bean protein (Tyler, Youngs, & Sosulski, 1981) concentrates the v-c up to nearly four-fold in the protein fraction (Fig. 1). Pitz, Sosulski, and Hogge (1980) reported a similar trend. Wet processing methods for protein purification, e.g., isoelectric precipitation, can remove anti-nutritional factors such as v-c from protein fractions, but these methods are costly and energy-intensive (reviewed in Singhal, Karaca, Tyler, & Nickerson, 2016). The best solution for the reduction of v-c is breeding for low v-c faba beans, and the discovery of a low-v-c accession with up to 95% reduction in v-c content compared to wild type has enabled the transfer of the low v-c trait to faba bean cultivars by sexual crosses (Duc, Sixdenier, Lila, & Furstoss, 1989)."

Long story short, at the end we reach to the same conclusion I will continue to boil beans for the time being - till we have some seeds of low v-c beans

Does low concentration of those coımpounds make people with favism sick? Frankly I have no clue.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Good article, thanks! I haven't come across any information on the effect of low concentrations either.  
 
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I primarily eat the leaves in spring fresh off the plant. They also make a good pesto.

My understanding is the nitrogen they fix is largely put into the beans themselves (as proteins and amino acids that are Nitrogen based), hence their use as green manure being the primary way to get their N into the soil.
 
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G6PD deficiency is a genetic (inherited) issue and relatively common in areas where malaria is common.  With the migration from these areas, it is reasonably common now to see this trait popping up in wider communities.  The big issue with this deficiency is that taking drugs such as Primaquin causes the red blood cells to break down, which is potentially life threatening.  G6PD is designed to protect red blood cells but where it is deficient, there is not enough to do its job.  So with fava beans doing this too, it is best if you have a heritage originating from an endemic malaria area, steer clear unless you know for sure you are not G6PD deficient.

I agree with R. Ranson, stick to chickpeas.  Just because it is natural does not mean it is good for you ........... arsenic and cyanide are the oft towed out examples.
 
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