About a decade ago, there was a bit of a craze surrounding green beans as far as the dog world goes.
It was a diet for overweight dogs that involved swapping out 10% of their food everyday for the same weight of green beans.
The theory being that because of how few calories are in green beans and how much fibre they contain, a dog would be eating fewer calories but feeling as full.
Like all diets, I’m guessing that this one was just a fad- which is just as well because it sounds a little too simplistic..
Now these beans weren’t raw, they were canned.
The focus of my article today will be on raw green beans but I’m not writing about dog diets.
I just want to know how nutritious green beans are for our dogs.
But before I do, let me quickly list all the different names for green beans.
One bean, many names
Green beans are also known as French beans, string beans, snap beans, snaps or even haricot vert- which is French, don’t you know?
That is quite an impressive list, I think.
What is the nutrition in raw green beans?
Actually, I’m a bit disappointed by green beans.
Compared to some of the other vegetables such as celery, broccoli or pumpkin, as far as nutrition goes I think that they are a bit of a let down.
Let me explain.
Normally when I look at the nutrition data for a raw vegetable it has a couple of “headline acts” when it comes to vitamins and minerals in particular.
Yesterday, I wrote an article about broccoli and it has very high levels of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K.
For pumpkin it is vitamin A.
But for green beans? I’m really struggling.
They contain 2.7% fibre which for vegetables is quite high but not astoundingly so.
Neither is there any cholesterol and hardly any calories but that is hardly news when it comes to vegetables.
The biggest vitamin boost that your dog will get from a green bean is vitamin K, which is an interesting vitamin as far as dogs are concerned.
You see, dogs make vitamin K within their own bodies.
I mean a few extra helpings from green beans won’t do your dog any harm at all.
But as a comparison, it is less than half what broccoli contains.
A green bean’s vitamin A content is a tiny fraction of what you will find in broccoli and is the same story with vitamin C.
Copper is the top mineral in green beans and the good news is that it has more copper than broccoli per 100g.
But with all the other minerals such as potassium, phosphorus and manganese, green beans seem to be lagging slightly.
But does cooking green beans “pep” them up or give them a (much needed) “facelift” in any way?
How does that differ to cooked green beans?
The honest answer is that it doesn’t make much of a difference at all.
There are tiny changes for the most part. Carbohydrate, protein, fibre all go up very slightly after a green bean has been cooked.
Cooking beans reduces the amounts of vitamins and minerals present but by very small amounts.
The biggest chance seems to be in vitamin C- in raw beans there are 12.2 mg and in cooked means there are 10.8 mg.
And bear in mind that there are one thousand micrograms (mg) in a gram.
Cooking will change the texture and the taste of a green bean- it will lose some of its crunch and become softer and sweeter.
And of course, cooking the beans involves more time and effort- is it worth it for such minimal effort?
Can dogs eat canned raw green beans?
The first interesting question is whether the green beans that come in cans can be counted as raw.
From what I have read about them they are ready to eat from the can, although they are not fully cooked.
But once you have got over that mental hurdle, you will find that nutritionally they are very similar to fresh raw or cooked variety.
But there is a caveat to this.
If you are going to use canned green beans make sure that you buy cans with “no salt added” otherwise the levels of sodium (salt) in the beans will be through the roof.
For instance, I have just looked at a standard can of green beans from Kroger and from Whole Foods.
The sodium levels in these cans is around forty times higher than fresh green beans.
Little wonder that they are all ready to eat…..
However a can of green beans with no added salt has just over twice the amount of salt that you would find in raw green beans or cooked green beans.
How to prepare raw green beans for my dog?
Should you chop the beans up into bite size chunks, or just give them to your dog whole.
And, what about the ends?
We don’t eat them but should our dog?
Lots of people would suggest that you should chop the green beans into chunks.
By doing that you are reducing the risk of your dog choking on a green bean.
But, that depends on your dog.
If your dog is an “inhaler” of food rather than a “chewer” then you might want to chop them up.
And for these dogs you might want to look at buying chopped green beans in a can (with no added salt) because think how much easier that would be with your dog!
But if your dog tends to eat slowly and savour every mouthful then try them with a whole raw bean first because it is very unlikely that they will choke on one.
Chunks or whole, canned or fresh just make sure that you quickly give the beans a rinse- it will get rid of any dirt, chemicals or brine that might be on the surface of the beans.
How many green beans should I feed my dog?
It is funny that I should start this article discussing a dog diet that involved using 10% green beans.
And the reason that is funny is because 10% is also a recommended amount when it comes to adding vegetables to a dog’s diet.
In fact it is not only vegetables but any food (or treat) which isn’t part of a dog’s complete diet.
Vegetables are on the list because many of them contain a bit of sugar..
But I actually think that the amount of green beans that you feed your dogs should be less than this.
Even for quite large dogs I would only add a few tablespoons, if they are being added regularly.
But the other thing is don’t just think green beans as it is way too restrictive.
I talk about this a bit more in the next section.
What is the best raw vegetable to feed my dog?
As you might have expected, there is no one right answer to this question.
What you need to do is to work out why you want to add the raw vegetable to your dog’s diet in the first place.
Is it because you want them to have more of a certain vitamin or mineral?
For instance, if you are after more iron you might want to try adding kale or spinach to their diet.
Or if you want them to have more vitamin A, you can’t go too far wrong with carrots (or even frozen ones.)
And the easiest place to start is often your own fridge.
What vegetables do you regularly keep?
Just remember that onions, garlic, asparagus and tomatoes, as far as dogs are concerned. are on a vegetable blacklist.
What is the best bean to feed your dog?
Following on from the best raw vegetable, I want to talk about what might be the best bean to feed your dog.
And it might surprise you that I won’t be discussing any that are green.
The best types of beans to feed your dog are probably legumes.
The type that Jack grew his beanstalk from.
These include soybeans, borlotti beans, pinto beans, white beans and …lentils.
These are the best “beans” to add to your dog’s diet because they are packed full of healthy stuff like fibre and iron.
And they are dirt cheap- particularly if you buy them dried.
But you can feed them to your dog (or you) raw, they need to be soaked and cooked (unless they are canned.)
And a side effect of eating beans is that your dog’s farts will become much, much more smelly.
Swings and roundabouts don’t they call it?!
Can dogs eat raw green beans?
Your dog can safely eat raw green beans.
If you have a kitchen garden or an allotment and you grow your own, then feeding them to your dog makes a lot of sense.
Or, if you or your dog struggle with the raw part, cooking them gently will only destroy a few of the vitamins and minerals that are in the beans.
And it will change the texture and taste, which might be a stumbling block for your dog
A green bean’s best feature in my opinion is the amount of fibre that they contain.
Compared to the vitamins and minerals in other vegetables, I think that they are a bit disappointing.
And so if you are thinking of buying them in especially- don’t!