Dear Mark: Are Peas and Green Beans Healthy?

For today’s Dear Mark post, I’m going to hold off on doing a big roundup and instead focus on a single question that keeps appearing in my inbox: the suitability of green beans and peas in a Primal Blueprint eating plan. I regret not getting to it sooner, for I can imagine the Vibram-clad pausing in produce aisles across the world, looming over the bright green beans and agonizing over the antinutrient content of the admittedly tasty legumes, dipping their callused hands heavy with barbell stink into the display case full of sweet peas, letting the tiny green pearls cascade through their fingers like Maximus Decimus Meridius caressing the stalks of wheat in Gladiator and thinking of casseroles from days long past. Well, wonder no more. Today we dig in.

Are peas and green beans Primal?


Peas and green beans are, botanically speaking, legumes. And since I generally recommend against the consumption of legumes, it seems to follow that the consumption of peas and green beans is “not Primal.” But hold on. Peas and green beans eaten fresh – not dried – are young seeds picked when unripe. The type of legumes we’re wary of are dried beans – beans that are allowed to dry on the vine until they rattle in their pods. Green beans and fresh peas are picked before they dry. In fact, green beans and peas have been bred to be digestible, palatable, and easily cooked before maturation. No lab-coated genetic modification, just good old fashioned selective breeding – the stuff we’ve been doing for tens of thousands of years.

When you pop them into an online database, the nutritional profile of legumes is pretty decent. They’ve got more protein than grains, fewer antinutrients (and zero gluten!), and a decent amount of minerals. I’ve always advised against making legumes a significant part of your diet, mostly because far tastier and more nutrient dense foods exist out there, but I’ve never said they’re evil, either. I’d much rather you load up on soaked, well-prepared beans than hearthealthywholegrains.

Now, as for why I personally avoid legumes? They don’t agree with my digestive tract. Through years of intensive and occasional culinary dalliance with the legume, I’ve determined that when I eat them in just about any quantity – more than a few bites – I suffer the distinctively rumbling protestations of my gut. And I tend to listen to my gut. He’s pretty astute, and he imparts a lot of wisdom.

But why do I occasionally eat green beans and (less often) fresh (not dried) peas? Because they taste good, make an easy dish to prepare, and make my gut happy. I can, and often do, eat a side dish of green beans (and sometimes peas, though not as frequently) sauteed in butter and tossed with a half cup of bone broth that simultaneously steams the beans and reduces down with the butter to form a viscous sauce that coats the tongue. Add some fresh ground pepper and a half pinch of chunky unrefined sea salt and I’ve got myself a “side dish” that can almost make me forget about the “main dish.” Eating this never makes my stomach rumble (unless it’s out of anticipatory hunger) and it never negatively affects my digestion. By all (of my) subjective measures, green beans and peas are fairly benign.

By most objective measures I was able to dig up, green beans and peas are also quite benign:

  • The green pea lectin (pisum sativum agglutinin) is “much less toxic” than others, according to renowned legume opponent Dr. Loren Cordain’s research.
  • Phytate content of green beans and green peas, which isn’t that high to begin with, was greatly reduced by simple cooking (PDF): green beans dropped from 150 mg phytate per 100 g portion to 52 mg phytate; green peas dropped from 384 mg phytate to 158 mg phytate. Most of the phytic acid was retained in the cooking water, though, so if you’re trying to avoid phytates, discard the water.
  • I couldn’t find solid figures for phytohaemagglutinin (the primary bean lectin) content of green beans, but we do know that uncooked kidney beans are extremely dense with the stuff. We also know that eating uncooked kidney beans will make a person acutely ill from phytohaemagglutinin toxicity, but that eating uncooked green beans will not. I think it’s safe to assume that green beans are therefore pretty low in the lectin, and in any case, cooking at a temperature of 100 degrees C deactivates most of it (enough to make soaked kidney beans safe to eat).
  • Carbohydrate content of both green beans and fresh peas are lower than the dried varieties.

I often say that all food exists on a spectrum of suitability, with the classic example being dairy. Raw, grass-fed, fermented is best, followed by grass-fed, fermented, followed by grass-fed, followed by organic, fermented, followed by fermented, and so on. To malign an entire category of food with impunity and without regard for the subtleties that exist between individual foods within that category is foolish. Wheat is not rice (or oats), bologna is not leg of lamb, the honey-roasted peanut is not the raw macadamia nut, iceberg is not chard, corn oil is not red palm oil, and the green bean is not the kidney bean.

Now I’d like your take on the subject. How do you handle young legume upstarts? Do you yell at them to get off your lawn, or do you welcome them into your home and hearth for dinner? Let me know in the comment section!

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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148 thoughts on “Dear Mark: Are Peas and Green Beans Healthy?”

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  1. I’m with you Mark – I love green beans… they’re delicious and they’ve never given me any digestive problems!

      1. haha, when I started typing no one had posted yet. You beat me to it! Cool blog, by the way 🙂

  2. Thanks Mark! I was wondering where green beans stood in the spectrum of foods. I’m doing research in Chile right now, where green beans are really popular. While I was shopping with a friend, she encouraged me to buy a bag of frozen green beans. I did, but they’ve been sitting in my freezer for two months because I thought they were just like other legumes and didn’t really take the time to look more into it. Now I know! I’ll pull them out soon and see if they agree with me.

    1. Like someone long ago said, the not-so-good part about the Primal Blueprint is that people start fearing the food at some point – unless they hear “the orders from above”.

      1. That sounds good to me. If I don’t know enough of an issue I usually rely on “above”. It is different when I do my own research, which may or not agree with above. Not a problem for me 🙂

      2. Very true. In my opinion, a strict primal diet is a great idea for everyone for maybe a month to start, but after that I believe everyone should do some experimenting to find what they can tolerate. I feared carbs for a while, but after a little experimenting I found that a bit of a higher carb approach with potatoes and some white rice works great for me. But everyone is different. To me, being in tune with your body’s response to food is key 🙂

      3. I promise you that is a people problem and not a primal blueprint problem. The word “sheeple” didn’t come from nowhere.

        It’s a good point though. I’ve been primal since 2001. What I tell people is “know your enemy”.

        Your enemies are:
        1) CORN!!! Corn syrup, cornbread, corndogs, Doritos, etc. No single food source has done more damage to more people than corn
        2) artificial _____ – You are real. If your food is artificial it will make you less than your ideal self in increasing increments. Your body will also struggle to process it and over sustained periods of consumption will case begin modifying your genetics to try. The end result of this last line of defense is called cancer.
        3) Sugar- the white kind found in copious amounts in so many things, while natural, is still so refined that it can provokes some of the same dangers as the artificials. I still use a small amount of unrefined sugar in my coffee, but by and large just avoid it all. Your body doesn’t want or need it.
        4)Grains – Carbs, insulin resistance, fat. Nuff said. The Cheerios people are lying to you.

        These are the low hanging fruit you need to deal with now. Worrying about a green bean a grain of rice or a chick pea is silly. Once your body is finely tuned, it will let you know what exactly it likes or does not like. If you are avoiding the mass-murderers listed above, you can spare yourself the drama of worrying about these minor things too much. Besides, at the end of the day the choice is yours. Err on the side of caution or throw it into the wind. You likely won’t see results or consequences regardless what you choose to do. I eat green beans all the time and couldn’t live without them…

        1. I agree, those are great points–“know your enemy,” tune/listen to your body, and.. live!

          Analysis is only beneficial until the moment that it becomes excessive with diminishing returns; a stress that can deter you from confidence in your lifestyle. There is value in persistence, but knowing what information you’re looking for and when to stop is important to prevent getting burnt out in the search for a perfected diet.

        2. I really appreciate this reply. My primal nephew questions my choice of protein shake, which is yellow pea based and an anti-inflammatory formula. When I can’t eat raw – this is my convenience vs. the horror of horrors I used to grab on the way to work. Whey protein inflames my joints – as said above- it’s all about getting to know your body. I cut the “mass-murderers” out – am a new and revitalized me. I can continue my intake without feeling that doubt…

  3. This is so strange!!! I went to outback steakhouse for the first time last night, forgoing the loaded baked potato for some seasonal veggies which included green peas in the pod. I stared at them for a full five minutes, contemplating the relative evils of legumes before I just left them on my plate. If they had just been regular ole’ peas out of the pod I probably would have eaten them without a thought…but the fact that the pod was there made me pause(are green pea pods primal? Are they even called green pea pods? I always called them snow peas…)But thanks to you Mark, I will now occasionally enjoy green beans and peas without censure. Which is awesome because one of my favorite veggies is the green bean. Especially raw, outta the produce bag, maybe even before the checkout line green beans. YUM!

  4. Awesome timing for yesterday I bought a bunch of green beans to make with dinner. I did pause and think but I thought you would approve 🙂

  5. I’ve always loved fresh green beans and never seem to give me issues. But staying away from the squishy, preservative-soaked, and metallic-tasting canned varieties of beans and peas is always for the best.

    1. Well, canned beans are technically already soaked and you can always find then either in glass or BPA-free cans.

      1. Do you know of a brand that does NOT have BPA that carries peas or green beans?

        I know for coconut milk its best to go with native forest since they are bpa free but… what about peas and green beans?

        1. Eden Foods (a 100%Organic brand) lines their cans with Ceramic–very cool company–in all ways.

          There are some other Organic companies that do as well–look on the label, they’ll usually say ceramic-lined or BPA-free.

  6. The one thing I haven’t stopped eating is green beans (I was never a pea fan). The main reason was the number of plants my man put in the garden this past summer. But I have no gut issues with the green beans. I can’t say that with any other bean. And they taste amazing sauteed in some butter or bacon fat! Good to know about the phytates after cooking!

  7. Thanks Mark, It’s nice to hear I don’t have to feel guilty about eating peas. I love peas and fresh mint!

      1. All Brits love peas with mint. They even sell frozen peas with mint in Tesco’s.

        Have been avoiding peas but eating green beans because they came in my CSA boxes. Anything I get in the CSA box I eat (carrots, sweet potatoes etc as well as the “good” veg).

        I love the primal approach because it doesn’t advocate all or nothing.

  8. This is great to know, I have been wondering if beans or peas were ok to eat. I kept thinking that anything I can eat straight off the vine or plant should be ok.

    1. yes, especially peas WITH pods, like Snap Peas or Snow Peas–lowers glycemic index ’cause increased fiber. and the pods are juicy, tasty, nutritious.

      1. I’ve read about peas but in the South we have many that aren’t mentioned in the books. And the English language often fails us with the name. Can ya’ll help? What about these fresh frozen types: Field Peas (often come “with snaps), Zipper Peas, Purple Hull Peas, Butter Peas, Crowder Peas, Blackeyed Peas? (I’ve found Field Peas give me flatulence.) These are some I easily find in the stores – Thanks!

  9. Oooh, yes, green beans fried up in bacon fat! It’s a great way to just about guarantee the kids ask for thirds! And how EASY is it to take a bag of frozen green beans, dump them all into a cast-iron pan of bacon fat, and cook till done? VERY!

    Hmmm, now I want some with supper….. 🙂

  10. “I can imagine the Vibram-clad pausing in produce aisles across the world, looming over the bright green beans and agonizing over the antinutrient content of the admittedly tasty legumes, dipping their callused hands heavy with barbell stink into the display case full of sweet peas, letting the tiny green pearls cascade through their fingers like Maximus Decimus Meridius caressing the stalks of wheat in Gladiator and thinking of casseroles from days long past.”

    Dig that gonzo prose. Tom Wolfe, eat your heart out.

    1. I enjoyed this part too, Mark! The whole thing is good. The more I read of this lifestyle, the more I like and am adhering to it. I just happened to be reading the “Happy Feet” part in your book yesterday and have now joined the ranks of the Vibram-clad.

    2. Yeah Mark seems to have gotten a little wacky-poetic with this post 😛 I like it!

  11. I have always loved green beans but I’ve only had them in butter or bacon fat. I gotta try the bone broth method-its making me drool just thinking about it.

    I read somewhere that green beans and snow peas are healthier because they are still in the pod. (And something about them still being in the pod made them more vegetable than seed.) Of course, can’t find where I read it now but does anyone know if that’s true?

  12. Green beans are great. I consider them a negative calorie food because it takes nearly as much energy or more to digest them than the energy they contain.

    1. How did you come about this theory? I’ve never thought about them like this… so I guess leafy greens would most definitely be a negative calorie food if you take the time to chew!

      1. By the time I take the chicken from the cooler, walk it to the cash register, walk it to the car, into the house, prepare it, cut it and eat it, due the the toil earing the money in the wallet; The chicken dinner just became calorie neutral. 😉

  13. We eat fresh green beans in our primal home and have for over a year. We probably have them twice a month and experience no digestive problems, or any other problem as far as we know. We make them in broth and with the butter as Mark described and enjoy them quite a lot.

  14. There is no better treat in the world that the first tender green peas-in-the-pod in the summer.

    The local (awesome) hothouse does shelling peas – because they’re under glass they’re ready usually by the end of May or early June, about a month before anyone else (including my own garden). I always buy a big bag, and take them with me when I pick my daughter up at school. And I hand them out to all the kids and I tell you, you wouldn’t see that much excitement with jelly beans!!! Then when our peas are ready, my daughter loooves being able to just pop outside and grab some. I wouldn’t care even if they weren’t “suitable” food – I’d still grow them, buy them, and eat them!

  15. Green beans are a staple at my house. Raw, cooked, it doesn’t matter, they are all good. So are peas, although I don’t eat as many of them.

  16. Green beans with butter, and garlic powder with diced onion added. Just about the only ‘veggie’ I can get my non-primal wife to eat.

  17. Frozen cut green beans a huge staple in my diet for an easy side dish to pair with meat. I usually saute with herbed butter and dijon mustard beef and sauerkraut. I never really considered them a legume in my mind so this was insightful to read, but I’ll definitely continue to eat them because they agree with my body very well.

  18. I’ve heard this question a lot too because my daughter loves to eat green peas. People ask me if they’re really primal. I have always read that they’re not but that hasn’t stopped me from letting my daughter eat a little bit. Now, I might just let her eat more! Thanks for the info, Mark.

    1. Isn’t it nice to have someone like Mark confirm what you are doing is ok? Not that I do everything that Mark says but I’ve always thought that peas, green beans and sugar snap peas are not as harmful as other legumes.

  19. We don’t eat a lot of peas, but once in awhile, I will make them. I buy the giant bags of frozen gb’s from Trader Joes … perfect for winter, when we don’t have a lot of GOOD fresh produce here in Nebraska!

    1. I buy those super skinny green beans from Trader Joe’s as well; there doesn’t seem to be much “bean”, mostly pod.

  20. Personally I’ve never been a green bean or pea fan. I’ll eat them occasionally a few times per year with some raw grass fed butter on them.

  21. Green beans are certified by Robb Wolf as well – at least he put them on his Shopping List for Week 1 on his site. I enjoy mine with pastured butter and a steak. Not AS tasty as a sweet potato, but for variety and a different color on the plate, why not?

  22. I eat peas and green beans almost daily. Green beans in the stirfry, and peas in my guacamole. Yay!

  23. I grow snap peas and green beans in my garden. When your three-year-old twins plant, pick, cook and EAT all of their own garden “veggies”, you don’t get too picky about whether a green bean is optimal or not. You just say, “thank goodness” and let them eat it. The snap peas tend to be eaten sun warm and straight off the vine. Man is that good! I had figured since the pods were mostly vegetable matter and very little seed was actually being eaten that they were probably on the healthier end of the spectrum from dried beans. Glad to know I was right.

  24. Peas and beans from our garden -> eaten while picked faster than picked for the pail. Domestic foraging!

  25. What a coincidence. I just bought a 1 lb bag of fresh sugar snap peas for $2 yesterday. I ate half last night and I’m eating the other half tonight. This article couldn’t have come at a better time. Hell, even if the conclusion was negative, they’re so good I’d be eating them anyway. I love them because they’re low in fiber, and I’m trying to cut the fiber in my diet. More carrots, snap peas, zucchini and mushrooms. Less endive, kale, cabbage and other things that are starting to bind up my gut.

  26. I just avoid legumes (including green beans and peas) (as well as grains of course. I really don’t miss them. I eat veggies, like cauliflower, chard,collars broccoli, cucumbers etc. instead

    1. Raw sugar snap peas are one of my favorite things in the world! I rarely buy them because I just eat the whole bag in one sitting 🙂

  27. I often get green beans in my CSA box, and they are delicious! I always figured a few times a month when they’re in season couldn’t be too bad.

  28. I grow my own in the summer, and it is a treat from the garden!

    The best use of frozen green beans I know off is frying them with eggs (I am guessing they can be first fried with bacon or butter). It makes a big breakfast or a decent super-easy supper.

  29. This didn’t even cross my mind when I devoured a plate of turkey with green beans and mashed kabocha squash on Thanksgiving. Glad it didn’t too, it feels so much better when you stop over-analyzing everything 🙂

  30. I’m learning to listen to my body and trust myself and not CW. Before primal I always made chili with out beans because my body really did not like them. Now I’m just fine tuning my ear for subtle signs of what my body likes and dislikes.

    Green beans, skipping breakfast when I’m not hungry, dairy are fine. Wheat, rice, legumes, eating late at night; not fine!

  31. Where does that leave edamame (immature soybeans) on the suitability scale?

  32. Big thunk on the forehead, accompanied by a “DOH!”

    For some reason I have never considered green beans to be legumes — the fact that all beans are legumes never actually connected in my brain. Perhaps it’s because they are low in calories and taste good.

    I shall happily continue eating green beans — especially trying the sauté’ in butter and add some bone broth recipe. I shall continue to eat snow peas as well. I have never liked green peas.

  33. My son was allergic to eggs and nuts for a long time so I had to find food for him to eat on the paleo diet. I did include the peas and beans in his diet and homemade hummus and peanut butter. However, now that he is healed we gave the hummus and peanut butter a kick in the butt.

    I have a lot of paleo recipes since I had to be creative for 3 years of his life. You can see a collection of them on my website.

  34. Alas, I am allergic to green beans so none for me! Like Mark mentioned they are legumes, which can cause allergic reactions for some. Strangely, I am not allergic to peanuts, which are in the same family, but I don’t eat them anyway.

    Fresh peas every once and a while are OK… not my favorite though!

  35. Good blog. I’ve been wondering about green beans for a while now!

  36. I like a snack of edmame now and then. Doesn’t seem to affect me adversely.

  37. Love beans! And peas too, they add some variety to the menu. I consider them beneficial for myself and they give me a satiating feeling.

  38. green beans wrapped in bacon with coconut oil or butter are outstanding. try them

  39. Well, since we’ve gone mostly primal, my 5 kids eat bowls of peas or green beans instead of bread, biscuits or potatoes with their meals. A good trade off, I think. And since these two items are their favorite “vegetables”, collectively, we’re sticking with them.

  40. Thanks Mark. I knew that fresh legumes were fine but appreciate the full report.

    In the forum, newbies often ask about green beans and peas. Some uniformed member always says green beans = legumes = no primal. I hope this post will reduce that some.

    I frequently eat both green and traditionally soaked legumes, and do fine.

  41. So incredibly bummed to learn that my split pea soup – which seemed like it would be primal – isn’t. Wahh!

    1. Fresh pea soup is much better – just cook in some chicken broth, puree with a stick blender. I add a dollop of yogurt or heavy cream sometimes before pureeing. Really good, fresh flavor. You can also use frozen peas for this. Add some chopped green herbs if you like – mint is particularly good.

  42. My whole family loves them. I cook them up with a few slices of bacon or a little lard and they are delicious.

  43. Yay! I enjoy green beans, but have been hesitant to try pea protein. It seems that I’m sensitive to whey & egg proteins, so pea it is! (any comments on pea protein, btw?)

  44. I tend to think that if you can eat something raw without it upsetting your digestive system then it’s probably OK to eat generally.

  45. Thanks Mark! I always get this question from my mom and now I have an answer 🙂

    Green beans never particularly bothered my digestion, so I still ate them. Delicious sauteed in butter and garlic!

  46. I was raised on fresh pinto beans, as well as fresh purple hull peas, and cream peas among others. Of course, not being able to have the cornbread with them makes them not as attractive!

  47. Green beans and peas are in … maybe a couple of times a month as there are so many other combinations. I tend to include them because they go with something else in the dish.

    I take the raw principle – can the food be eaten raw? Yes, in these cases, and home grown green beans and peas are just so nice. The raw principle doesn’t mean I can’t cook them, just that if I can eat them raw, the chances are they’re going to be good to eat.

    I have a very occasional dish of legumes just to see … I say, “I have”, but it’s been two in about 3 months – once green lentils and recently puy lentils. Neither affected me negatively from observation and I thoroughly enjoyed the food I made with them.

  48. Greener de beaners…yum! With butter or bacon grease…yes please. Peas OK now and then. Fresh young pea pods…yum!yum! Need I say more!

  49. The farm where I work grows both Blue Lake green beans and sugar snap peas. When these are young and tender and at their peak, they seem alot more like a vegetable than a legume. You are mostly eating the pod, and the “seed” is still very tiny. As they mature, the seed gets alot more starchy, tougher and “legume-like”, and not nearly as tasty….

  50. Oooh Mark I have been dreaming of a Spectrum of suitibility! Will you make one? It could be your next book, or an app. You could give food points, or stars or grades, or groks or something. Pleeeeeeease?

  51. This is great to hear. I love to throw peas and snow peas into dishes or have green beans on the side, and there are also a few garden-variety beans that can be eaten fresh (such as burgundy beans, which I guess are a cousin of the green bean)… and boy, there’s not much that’s better than wandering through the garden and snacking on fresh, tender veggies 🙂 Fresh peas and beans knock the socks off of “dry shell” beans. Just looking a few up, it looks like beans vary widely in the amount of phytates/lectins they carry… so I guess it’s just sticking to peas or green beans — and/or know the edibility of what you want to grow or eat!

  52. I made a delicious green bean recipe for Thanksgiving dinner. Parboil the beans, drain. Toss with olive oil and sherry vinegar, crumble bacon and goat cheese on top. i added dried cranberries for the holiday.

  53. Great post Mark. I have been wondering about green beans for quite some time now because we eat them once or twice a week. I love the way you prepare them and will have to try that next time.

  54. Wow.. I too have been agonizing over green beans and peas. Has been hard avoiding black beans, kidney beans, pintos, and yes, black-eyed peas. Glad to know I can eat something from the “bean” family. Thanks!

  55. I never, ever thought of not eating our delicious, organic peas and beans. I sort of thought the paleocommisariat was seriously deluded about these wonderful legumes.

    Our cattle just love clover lucerne and we certainly relish eating them!

    1. “Paleocomissariat” – LOOOL!

      I’ve always had the occasional green bean too; they’re fairly low in carbs anyhow.
      I think the best indicator is the extent of work you have to put in to make a food edible; sugarsnaps and green beans can even be eaten raw, and require minimal preparation if you want to cook them, whereas if you eat raw lima beans you’ll probably end up in the hospital poisoning ward.

  56. Back in 2007, I was on a protein craze, and I made sure I ate a lot of edamame. I chose edamame because it was easier to prepare and eat throughout the day. I could not eat a steak in the middle of class if I got hungry, but I could eat edamame.

    The only thing was that it made my flatulence gas smell HORRID. That was because these beans were being fermented inside of my large intestines which produced this putrid gas.

    Of course, now I know that you cannot get any protein from unfermented legumes, so all that edamame was a futile effort (correct me if I’m wrong). However, I still eat fermented soybeans like tempeh and natto. After fermentation, the nutrients and proteins are available for absorption and most of the anti-nutrients are deactivated, according to Dr. Joseph Mercola. Also, because it has already been fermented, it does not make my flatulence gas smell terrible, and I can get some healthy bacteria to live inside of me from eating fermented soy. Natto also contains nattokinase.

    1. If you read Mercola, it is the vitmain K2 you go for when eating natto. I get K2 from my (huge) cheese load, it is also a fermented food.

  57. I don’t get “grain pains” when I eat grains or legumes. Does this have to do with the fact that I am Chinese?

  58. I’m no expert but have read that Asian guts/digestive tracts are somewhat longer than Caucasian and other races’ guts/digestive tracts. This was in reference to the topic of eating Japanese sea weeds. Apparently, additionally, Japanese people have special micro organisms living in their digestive tracts that aid in digestion of these sea “vegetables.” I read about this in a very interesting Chemical Engineering Magazine article some months ago.

    The article addressed the advances made in DNA technology and how that was helping identify and take census of the populations of microbes living in and on our bodies. If I remember correctly, our human cells are outnumbered by what lives on and in us by 100 to one! It’s a good thing that most of those microbes don’t weigh much!! Anyhow, we definitely do not live alone in a sterile world and, yes, the races are somewhat different internally as well as externally. Asian people do have longer guts and likely a better ability with grains. I myself am an old Northern European whose ancestors were fishermen in Norway. I love my Cod! I love Greek yogurt too!

    1. I agree, I think the ‘Asian argument’ in favour of grains is oversimplified; you can’t just take a region-specific diet and say its a one-size-fits-all;besides, the traditional Asian diet, despite the rice, probably still has a much lower carb count than the SAD, and as Mark says here
      rice isn’t that bad in the context of a traditional diet replete in meats, animal fats and low in processed foods.
      Grok On 😀

  59. Sometimes the green beans or peas are the only green thing available on the table. That is the best time to go for it, given that there are so many other, better choices when you have more control.

  60. It never even dawned on me that green beans were a legume….How stupid am I?

  61. Who doesn’t like green beans it means he doesn’t know how to eat and i feel sorry for them.

  62. I tried out Tim Ferris’ diet for a few months (think meat+veggies+beans instead of the meat+veggies that I had done for years). I noticed a huge difference switching from black/pinto/kidney beans to green beans. Green beans seem to be fine.

  63. I eat green beans. They are one of the veggies I do like a lot. I don’t like peas though so I don’t eat those.

  64. Oh thank you for this article! I have been longing for my sugar snap peas and missing them. Now I will reintegrate them into my meals without any further anxiety. NOM!

  65. I just high graded a few sugar snap peas on their way to the kitchen from the garden. First of the summer!

  66. We have green beans all the time because it’s a quick and easy side veg. We buy frozen green beans, thaw them in the microwave then drizzle with olive oil and a bit of white vinegar. Spice up with salt, pepper and oregano and even my 3 year old and veggie-hating husband loves them. Add these to a roast that’s been slow-cooking all day and supper is on the table in 10 minutes.

  67. All this time being primal and it never even crossed my mind that green beans might be questioned. Hmmmph
    It’s my go-to veggie. No worries folks!

  68. Wow, we had peas with dinner just last night and I was wondering how primal/unprimal they were. Read my mind MDA!

  69. Mark, Thanks for this.

    I have eaten frozen peas for about 30 years w/o any issues. My raw vegetable suite (lunch 5 days a week) incldudes snap peas raw. Ditto goes for frozen beans that I’ll throw in a 70/30 hamburger casserole (with the fat thrown in as well).

    I don’t know if you have ever done this, but take some frozen peas and let them sit out so that they thaw. Then just eat them. It would amaze you how sweet they are! When it was my turn to cook dinner (and I am so slow at it), I’d put a bowl out on the counter so the kids could munch while dad finally got the dinner cooked (lol). My kids loved to snack on them, and it stopped that awful question of: when are you going to finish making dinner?

    Where we diverge a bit is with peanuts. I love these guys. Eat the “spanish” peanut (red skin on for the resveratrol) with sea salt. I wish you hated them less. And it beats drinking red wine (grin).

  70. I’ve always eaten green peas & green beans. When I started this whole paleo/primal thing I still ate them as they fell in the “if you can eat it raw” rational. I did a Whole30 once & didn’t eat peas then, but still did green beans because, as they stated – they are more pod than bean. My favorite way is sauteed in ghee with diced carrot, coriander, ginger, garlic, & mustard seed. A nice side dish for lamb 🙂 or just sauteed in lard with salt & pepper

  71. Hi Mark and others,

    What do you think of the hypothesis that peas contain m-xylohydroquinine, a potent estrogen and progesterone inhibitor? Many fertility forums say you should never eat peas if you’re trying to conceive, citing the book “The Infertility Diet” by Fern Reiss.

  72. I really like to make split pea soup from yellow dried split peas (soaked 24 hour in water first)

    I don’t eat it every day but maybe once a week..

    Are there any more thing I can do to reduce the lectins and phytates?

    I have a very limited diet due to many food intolerance..

  73. My children LOVE to eat frozen raw peas and green beans. We are on a pretty strict Paleo diet for my son’s Type 1 Diabetes. Should I be cooking them before they eat them. These are the only legumes we eat.


  74. I mixed up the fresh green, white, & wax beans with olive oil, garlic, rosemary and sea salt and bake for about 10 minutes or microwave for 4. They come out delicious and go really well with a nice pork chop.

  75. Cooked green beans agree with my stomach and body and don’t have many side-effects afterwards,

    unlike green PEAS, i tried cooking and eating them every-which-way and even if sometimes they make me feel great in the beginning, they throw me right off the centre and give me insomnia and indigestion in the end, EVERY flipping TiME

    also, even the best of Potatoes are LOADED with anti-nutrients, solanine and chocanine are some of them are they very HEAT-STABLE and are not broken down even at temperatures as high as 280C ,
    so cooking them does Nothing to eliminate it,
    it accumulates, it’s a powerful CNS disruptor and it affects acetylocholine neurotransmitter functions in the brain

    anyways, great article, age-long question !

  76. the only good greain is WHiTE, non-glutonous RiCE,
    such as non-aged Basmati or Jasmine

    and properly prepared Buckwheat,
    which is then soaked in boiling water for 5 mins and rinsed very well in a steel strainer with a silicon stirring spoon,
    then boiled for 5-10mins (:


  77. Stay away from ALL Vegetable oils, especially coconut oil and olive oil, etc

    the only good and sometimes essential fat/oil to use in a diet is an organic unsalted cultured (grass-fed if you can get it ) Butter

    also STAY AWAY from all opiate receptor affecting foods such as dairy, gluten, spinach, heroin, etc

  78. I LOVE green beans and stopped eating them as I thought they weren’t primal ok’d. So, I’ll go back to a light ‘boil in a skillet with a bit of water, then olive oil and butter to finish them off, and slivered almonds toasted in the pan… so, so delish! Can’t wait… Thanks for this.
    I’ve never been a fan of green peas, so no loss, there. Can’t wait to pick up some green and yellow beans, though!

  79. But of course! I’ve had nagging indigestion and gas since I had canned sweet peas with dinner. I’ve never been big on peas, but the novelty sounded good, and like most side dishes they took well to butter and seasoned salt. Well, never again. I haven’t had any ill effects from food like this since going primal with my diet, and as soon as my stomach started bothering me I started researching what it could have been. I feel pretty crappy. This must be one of those rare things that I’m actually sensitive to. I can have as much dairy and chocolate as I want, but half a can of any legumes including peas really noticeably bothers my system. Oh well, here’s to knowing oneself better and learning how to nurture one’s unique needs.

  80. I figure skinny green beans are 95-99% pod and the rest bean. So I eat ’em and love ’em. Since going primal, I’ve switched from green peas to snow peas, for the same reason, i.e., I’m really eating pods, not peas. Is this logical? If I eat a vegetative part of the plant, am I eating a legume at all? Is the whole plant a legume?

  81. Hi Mark,
    Thanks for answering this question. I just asked this exact question on your facebook page. We like to grow peas and green beans in the garden, but we avoid all dried beans. I’m happy to know your thoughts on it.

  82. i suffer from gastritis and have just recently started cooking some veg. normally when i’m forced into hospital ie sectioned for being the messiah! i tend to eat any foods and plenty of vegetables because i’m not the one having to prepare, steam or boil them, i’m normally good with most veg “when sectioned” especially carrots peas and swede. i prepared some carrots and swede and it’s increased acidity and wind and really wasn’t worth eating the 20kcal portion! however i tried the green beans separately and noticed a slight decrease in stomach acidity and an immediate alkaline effect even though the first ones i prepared were undercooked! making digestion harder but still not too bad. earlier i had swede and carrots and just now i tried doing some french cut green beans and noticed little peas growing in the bean which would technically make the new born peas unripe and more acidic than when ripe! making the bean more acidic yet apparently green beans have a slightly more alkalising effect than peas even when full grown ripe peas are ready ive read green beans are slightly more alkalising. are those new baby peas classed as seeds or peas? are they acidic unripe peas?
    i found a fairly detailed alkalising chart here’s the link it’s where i found out green beans are slightly more alkalising than peas

  83. Mark, THANK YOU SO MUCH for posting this blog. I had dropped ALL legumes after reading Cordain’s The Paleo Diet, but I still bought them (less frequently and with some guilt) for my daughter because they’re a quick, easy to prepare veg that she’ll actually eat. Since falling pregnant, though, my diet has morphed into one of consuming what I could stomach at any given mealtime. My “rules” have gone out the window, and most of my beloved veggies have fallen by the wayside (isn’t that crazy? You’d think that during pregnancy, of all times, you would crave things that are GOOD for you/baby…), but green beans have remained palatable to me (in small doses). I’ve been feeling guilty about the frequency with which I’ve been buying & eating them, & we all know guilt is not a healthy state! Thanks for helping ease a pregnant lady’s mind!

  84. our favorite green bean dish: lightly steam 3-4 cups fresh green beans for 1-3 min. Heat 3-4 Tbsp olive oil in skillet, medium high.Add handful of walnuts, and 1-2 tsp of turmeric and stir/cook for 1-2 min. Add green beans and stir fry just til crisp-tender, about 3-4 min. optional, add fresh garlic and ginger, minced, with the walnuts.

  85. I have so many parameters around food with my kids that I give them free range in the fruit/vegetable/meat section of the store. If they want to eat green beans and peas–Huzzah! Jicama? Sure. If they pick it, they’ll eat it. I also grow them in our garden because they’re fun and again, the kids like the harvesting them and eating them fresh. I figure if I can grow it in our garden it’s better than what someone else grew, harvested, dried for eons, ground up into a flour, formed into cracker or cereal shapes (after adding some extra vitamins and minerals for good measure), placed in a box and shipped half way around the world to sit on a grocery store shelf for perhaps another few months.

  86. The idea that people today in this obese, fast food, junk food world would fret so deeply over eating a green bean and or peas grieves me to no end, for a number of reasons.

    I spent my days teaching two little twin boys how to shuck fresh peas and enjoy freshly picked green beans. They would rather drink green smoothies than eat cookies. Even if they decide upon a Paleo lifestyle, I doubt they will sit in a restaurant and stare at peas and green beans as if some kind of poison was placed on their plate. How did we get to this?

    Thank for you bringing some sensible science to this.

    I’ve shunned veganism for its dogmatic and misguided approach to health. This mass fear of green beans is no better. What is worse, this tells me that it’s reflective of how families eat. Grown men fearing green beans tells me that they probably grew up eating in a car at a drive through, that no one cooked at home, that healthy food was not plentiful and now they can’t determine what’s good for them until some expert says “you can eat a green bean.”

    In my whole long long life, I’ve never heard of anyone (outside of food allergies) unable to eat a pea or a green bean. These were never food from the enemy.

    What’s next in the next trend? This is what happened to eggs and red meat, and I never bought into that either.

    I’m not new to eating a Paleo friendly diet, but I am new to Paleo community. I’m seeing a whole new level of fear regarding food that floors me. Additionally, it’s a turn off.

    This is why I like Chris Kresser so much, and why I come here. I need to hear voices of reason (with real science) and the flexibility to morph and evolve.

  87. What is your opinion on pea protein supplements? I’m considering adding it to post workout smoothies…specifically the Warrior Blend by Sun Warrior where it is the first ingredient. Hummus and frozen peas do agitate digestion.

    1. Funny, I was recently at a Whole Foods and there was a salesperson promoting a newer “energy drink” that had decent amount of protein: pea protein. I’d be interested in hearing the answer to this, too.

  88. Have always enjoyed peas; came to love fresh-made green beans much more than the canned or frozen, which is what I always had when I was a kid. Just ate some peas in an otherwise fairly healthy salad! I’m happy to see them on the safer side of the spectrum and am all about where it makes sense.

    1. About *moderation* where it makes sense. And I believe the things discussed and investigated on this site promote moderation where it is warranted by the signals our own bodies give us, which is why I am such an ardent fan!

  89. Everything you eat will kill you.

    The best strategy to extent your life is to get by on as little food as possible.

  90. Glad to hear your story.I’m so grateful that people take time out of their busy schedules to respond to this space, so replying back to each person is the least I can do.

  91. Primal Newbie here!

    Found this post while searching for info on Green Beans. I’ve been eating Primal for about 2 months now. I’ve noted many positive changes in my overall health and ‘feel’. During a recent market forage session I bought a kilo of fresh green beans and prepared them the next day. Boy were they tasty! I’ve always liked green beans though. The interesting thing was I noticed something about eating Primal that I had not noticed before. Once switching to Primal eating I no longer feel bloated after a meal, ANY MEAL, ever. This fact had simply not occurred to me…UNTIL… You guessed it. Green Bean night. I was bloated for almost 3 hours to the point of having a distended abdomen.

    It was at this point that things came into sharp focus. The other parts of my meal were things that I had been eating regularly for the past 2 months, and found myself amazed at the fact that I hadn’t once noticed that I never got bloated until of course I got bloated. Bloating was such a normal part of eating for me that I never really though much about it. I eat, I loosen the belt in a couple of hours things get back to normal and tomorrow I evacuate and all is well with the world. Not being bloated is such a marvelous feeling. To be full and not be bloated or have to loosen the waistband is the way it’s supposed to be. So why was I bloated after 2 months?

    The only thing different that I ate that night was Green Beans. I googled it and sure enough found out that some people have digestive issues with them because of that indigestible sugar that requires a Bacterial Fermentation process to eliminate. Oh Yeah and one of the by products of this process is the release of Hydrogen Gas which of course is what causes the bloating and gas associated with Legumes.

    The take away, for me at least, is that Legumes don’t agree with me digestively speaking. So as much as Love green beans (all beans and peas actually) I think I’ll have to pass in the future. I would be curious to know if anyone has any data on French Cut vs regular cut though. Since the actual “Bean” part is absent in French cut and you’re ONLY eating the Pod are the indigestibles still present? Is the concentration lessened? Is the nutrient value less?

  92. i am so happy to know about green beans and peas . Green beans was the only (vegetable)i ate, i am allergic to all fruits and vegetable except lemons . I have been eating potatoes and white rice and my meats, though poultry is giving me problems of bloating just like vegetables

    thanks so much

  93. I love both green beas and peas. That said, I have noticed that when I eat very large quantities of peas in a meal, I get bad gas afterwords.

  94. Hello,
    Thanks for that info. Do you happen to know the phytate content of yard long beans and also pigeon peas? i read they are very anti-inflamatory foods…. especially pigeon peas have been used medicinally for their anti-inflamatory properties by different cultures. I am on an AIP (Auto Immune Protocol) diet. Like paleo, they say you are not supposed to eat legumes on that diet, but those 2 legumes dont seem very bad. I started growing my own food and those are easy to grow but I am worried that they may not be good for me