Greece is blessed with a mild and excellent climate. The land is fertile and produces highly nutritional products. Many Greek products have been honoured with the distinction of Protected Designation of Origin.
Beans, a beneficial legume, has been growing in Greece since ancient times. Many varieties have been labeled as Products of Geographical Indication, such as the variety “elefantes” Prespon, the megalosperma Prespon, and the giants from Kastoria.
Dried beans (giants) are a nutritional treasure, as they are rich in calcium (123mg/100g), phosphorus (352mg/100g), magnesium (171mg/100g), potassium (1483mg/100g), fibres (15g/100g) and proteins (the 100g can offer to the organism 7g of proteins, the same amount as we get from 30g of chicken or fish). Therefore, a frequent and systematic consumption of beans can contribute significantly to the health of bones and teeth, to regulate blood pressure and to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels.Furthermore, it is low in fat and salt. Due to their high content of soluble fibre they can help fight constipation and in weight control. This is because when you consume them,the beans generate an intense feeling of fullness and therefore you feel fuller for a longer amount of time. Also, their calorific value is relatively low since 1 cup of cooked beans yields to about 260 calories.
The way of cooking legumes is very important, since the addition of vegetables, grains and herbs can help in a better absorption of nutrients. The most basic instruction is that we combine them with foods that are rich in vitamin C, such as tomatoes, peppers, lemons in order to increase the absorption rate of plant iron which in legumes is tied with oxalates and other acids, which are not entirely absorbed by our system. By adding these foods, iron is released from them and its absorption is increased (tripled).
Also, when cooking legumes, if herbs are added, such as celery, onion, bay leaves, fennel, garlic, thyme, is the right procedure, because the herbs activate gastric juices in the stomach and therefore the legumes are digested more easily.