Green beans are a staple in countless cuisines around the world. They are considered one of the most popular side dishes of holiday meals.
On the one hand, green beans are rich in fiber, but on the other, legumes are known for their high carbohydrate content.
Here you’ll find out, based on science, whether green beans are allowed for low carb diets like the keto diet.
Are Green Beans Keto?
Green beans are also known as garden beans, pole beans, string beans, bean pods, or runner beans. They belong in the family of legumes (Fabaceae).
Green beans most likely originated in Peru, where they have thrived for about 7,000 years. Although the common bean is grown worldwide, its largest producers are Indonesia, India, and China.
There are over 130 different varieties of green beans, with a distinction made between bush and pole beans.
While pole bean varieties grow tall and need to be supported or tethered, bush beans grow on small plants that do not require support.
A significant advantage of common beans is that, unlike many other vegetables, they can be frozen without losing significant nutritional value.
In addition, they are widely available. That’s why you can buy green beans year-round at your local farmer’s market or supermarket. Nevertheless, they are in season from summer to early fall, so their quality is the best during this period.
Potential Benefits of Green Beans
Contrary to popular belief, they are not a good source of protein, with 1.8 grams of protein per 100 grams of green beans (*).
The nutrient density in green beans is manageable. Nevertheless, they can score above average in the following minerals and vitamins (*):
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
However, the latter can only be converted into active vitamin A (retinol) to a minimal extent, and some people simply can’t. According to one study, it can absorb only 2.25% of beta-carotene and convert only 0.03% into retinol (Hickenbottom et al. 20021).
If we now look at the negative aspects of green beans, it becomes clear that it is not an exceptionally healthy superfood.
Drawbacks of Green Beans on Keto
Although bloggers and marketers only ever report the benefits of green beans, they also have their drawbacks.
Any legumes contain a large number of antinutrients that cancel out many of their health benefits.
Phytic acid is a bioactive substance contained by, for example, grains, seeds, and legumes.
Accordingly, chickpeas also contain this antinutrient. Since phytic acid can insolubly bind minerals in the digestive tract, it significantly limits their absorption (Gibson et al. 20102).
For this reason, we can absorb the magnesium, iron, or zinc in chickpeas only in small amounts.
Plants also defend themselves against predators. To ward off pests, insects, and microorganisms, they produce large, sticky proteins (Dolan et al. 20103).
Although we do not digest these antinutrients, they can sneak into the bloodstream through the gut.
These so-called lectins hide in seeds, grains, leaves, barks, and hulls. Their concentration is exceptionally high in legumes, such as chickpeas. Moreover, green beans include both seeds and pods.
Lectins bind viruses and bacteria and help them to cross the intestinal wall and reach organs (Dalla Pellegrina et al. 20094).
In addition, lectins can cause inflammation (Freed 19995).
Furthermore, lectins can bind to insulin and leptin receptors, ultimately leading to weight gain (Shechter 19836).
The bottom line is that the supposedly healthy plant is not so healthy at all – especially if you want to lose weight.
However, how well green beans are suited for the keto diet is determined by their net carbs.
Carbs in Green Beans
Legumes are known to be rich in carbohydrates. Can the young bean pods possibly be the exception?
How Many Carbs Are in Green Beans?
100 grams of chickpeas provide the following average nutritional values (*):
- Energy: 31 calories
- Protein: 1.8 grams
- Fat: 0.1 grams
- Carbs: 7.1 grams
- Dietary fiber: 3.4 grams
- Net carbs: 3.7 grams
So they have a fat to net carbohydrate ratio of about 0.03.
Here, we don’t even have to compare to see that carbohydrates dominate in green beans. Moreover, they are almost fat-free.
Thus, on paper, green beans are high- rather than low-carb foods.
Are Green Beans Keto-Friendly?
Due to the decidedly unfavorable ratio of fat to net carbohydrates, at first glance, green beans do not lend themselves well to a ketogenic diet.
Nonetheless, the absolute amount of net carbohydrates in green beans is low.
If we look at a maximum serving size of 150 grams as a side dish, we get only 5.6 grams of net carbohydrates (*).
Thus, the average tolerance limit for maintaining ketosis of 25-50 grams of carbohydrates per day can by no means be exceeded.
For this reason, green beans can be pretty keto-friendly – especially if you fortify them with healthy fat.
In the case of garden beans, this is why it’s a good idea to toss them in grass-fed butter. The classic bacon coating is therefore also quite suitable for a ketogenic diet.
In addition, green beans harmonize with garlic and large amounts of cheese, as the following recipe will show us.
Keto Green Beans Casserole Recipe
Green bean casserole is one of the most popular holiday recipes. It is mainly on the table in the United States at Thanksgiving. The best part is that this recipe is also great for a ketogenic diet:
Keto Green Bean Casserole
- 1 lbs green beans cleaned and cut into pieces
- 3 tbsp grass-fed butter
- 1 cup mushrooms
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 3/4 cup chicken broth
- 6 oz creme cheese
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 5 oz cheddar cheese grated
- 1 tsp pink Himalayan salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper ground
- 4 oz Parmesan grated
- 6 oz bacon cubes
- 1 tsp grass-fed butter melted
- Preheat the oven to 350° and grease medium sized casserole dish with grass-fed butter.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add green beans. Boil for 3-5 minutes until they are crunchy soft. Remove beans from water and set aside.
- Heat grass-fed butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. When butter is melted, add onions. Sauté onions for 3 minutes, then add garlic and mushrooms.
- Sauté mushrooms and garlic for another 3 minutes. Pour in chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Reduce heat to medium and stir in cream cheese, Dijon mustard, cheddar, salt and pepper until cream cheese is melted.
- Stir in green beans until coated, then turn off heat.
- Spread mixture in prepared baking dish.
- For the topping, place bacon cubes, Parmesan cheese and melted butter in a small bowl and mix through. Sprinkle the topping over the casserole.
Finally, String Beans Are Keto-Friendly
If you are on a low-carb or ketogenic diet, you must always be careful about eating beans. In contrast, green beans make the exception among legumes.
On the keto diet, you should eat a maximum of 50 grams of net carbohydrates a day – often much less. However, since garden beans have less than 4 grams of net carbohydrates per 100 grams, they are allowed on Keto.
The bottom line is that green beans are suitable for low carb. However, since they, like all legumes, also contain antinutrients like lectins and phytic acid that inhibit nutrient absorption, you shouldn’t use them as an everyday side dish.
In any case, they can be on the table at festive times.
Carbs in Green Beans on Keto FAQ
Are green beans good for a low carb diet?
Since they have a relatively low net carb content, green beans are ok for a low-carb diet.
Can you eat green beans on keto?
Although carbs dominate in them, they bring less than 4 grams of net carbs to the table. Therefore, green beans are keto-friendly.rüne Bohnen enthalten wesentlich mehr Kohlenhydrate als Eiweiß.
What vegetables have no carbs?
The vegetable that contains the least amount of carbohydrates and is ideal for low carb and keto is celery.
Do green beans have carbohydrates in them?
Yes, green beans are food in which carbohydrates are the primary macronutrient.
Studies Click to open!
1Hickenbottom SJ, Follett JR, Lin Y, Dueker SR, Burri BJ, Neidlinger TR, Clifford AJ. Variability in conversion of beta-carotene to vitamin A in men as measured by using a double-tracer study design. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 May;75(5):900-7. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/75.5.900. PubMed PMID: 11976165.
2Gibson RS, Bailey KB, Gibbs M, Ferguson EL. A review of phytate, iron, zinc, and calcium concentrations in plant-based complementary foods used in low-income countries and implications for bioavailability. Food Nutr Bull. 2010 Jun;31(2 Suppl):S134-46. doi: 10.1177/15648265100312S206. Review. PubMed PMID: 20715598.
3Dolan LC, Matulka RA, Burdock GA. Naturally occurring food toxins. Toxins (Basel). 2010 Sep;2(9):2289-332. doi: 10.3390/toxins2092289. Epub 2010 Sep 20. Review. PubMed PMID: 22069686; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3153292.
4Dalla Pellegrina C, Perbellini O, Scupoli MT, Tomelleri C, Zanetti C, Zoccatelli G, Fusi M, Peruffo A, Rizzi C, Chignola R. Effects of wheat germ agglutinin on human gastrointestinal epithelium: insights from an experimental model of immune/epithelial cell interaction. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2009 Jun 1;237(2):146-53. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2009.03.012. Epub 2009 Mar 28. PubMed PMID: 19332085.
5Freed DL. Do dietary lectins cause disease?. BMJ. 1999 Apr 17;318(7190):1023-4. doi: 10.1136/bmj.318.7190.1023. PubMed PMID: 10205084; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC1115436.
6Shechter Y. Bound lectins that mimic insulin produce persistent insulin-like activities. Endocrinology. 1983 Dec;113(6):1921-6. doi: 10.1210/endo-113-6-1921. PubMed PMID: 6357762.