Melody 2007-09-08 20:21:23
fava beans and Mucuna pruriens Natural L-dopa in the Diet
The Kempster and Wahlqvist study(in the archives) documented that levodopa
responsive Parkinson’s could receive the benefits of the natural L-dopa by
substituting a portion of fava beans in a meal for their regular tablet.
A benefit noted was that the functional effects of the fava meal extends for
up to 5 hours vs the 2 hours for the standard release carbidopa/levodopa.
Another natural occurring L-dopa bean is the Mucuna pruriens found in India.
that abstract follows the fava beans story.
How can it be that fava beans, whose culture is so
ancient that it has no known wild form, whose use is so
widespread that it is considered common fare from China
to England, Iran to Spain, Africa to South America, have
not become part of American cuisine? In China fava
beans have been included in the diet for close tn 5,000
years. Romans consider favas their special province, as
they have since ancient times (Fava, which means bean,
is named after the Fabii, a noble Roman family). In the
south of France fava season is celebrated. Old English
cookbooks refer to the broad bean (its usual name in
most English-speaking countries) as “the common bean.”
On the Iberian peninsula broad beans appear dried,
fresh, and fried and salted — as they do in China,
where they are also sprouted. In a good part of the
Middle East fava beans are the meal or meals of the day.
Although the venerable bean was introduced into this
country in 1602 and hundreds of people from the areas
mentioned above have since made their homes here, the
fava has not. Alice Waters grows it in her garden to
make classy pasta dishes at her restaurants in Berkeley;
Italian mothers and restaurateurs (not mutually
exclusive, mind you) fill shopping bags with the
dramatically large verdant pods when they pop in about
April; curious cooks give them a whirl; but the unique
vegetable remains a specialty item. One reason may be
that the time-consuming cleaning process is daunting for
this nation in a hurry. To properly enjoy the fava, you
must pick the tough skin off each bean, a distinctly
labor-intensive job – though perfect for casual company
chatting. The skinning yields beans of springtime-green
(and occasionally reddish, brown, purplish hues) that
resemble baby Limas, pack plenty of subtle flavor, and
are surprisingly melting in texture, not starchy. It
also produces plenty of refuse (although tender pods can
be eaten). The lack of enthusiasm for the fava may also
be due to the fact that Americans have never developed a
taste for bitterness. Here, bitter is bad, sweet is
good. In many cuisines the two are considered equally
desirable, not negative and positive. And favas often
do have a bitter aftertaste, as fresh as grass.
SELECTION AND STORAGE: Fava beans are harbingers of
spring, although they continue to appear into the
summer. Look for the smallest, crispest, most evenly
green pods, with some discoloration to be expected.
Because there is considerable waste when you shell and
skin favas, buy a good deal more than you would of other
beans. While it is generally recommended that you avoid
the large, heavy pods (they may measure a foot or so)
with slightly yellowing beans, 1 find them delicious,
with a pronounced and appealing cheesy Flavor that is
different from the young beans, but worthwhile. You can
store the beans for a few days in the refrigerator,
spread in a wide dish, but don’t plan to keep the
perishable vegetable longer than that. Once shelled,
blanched, and skinned (see Preparation), the beans can
be frozen in small plastic containers for longer
storage. USE: Most recipes that you’ll see for fava
beans apply to the large dried ones, which have little
in common with the fresh other than being delicious.
The following concerns the in-pod beans only. If you
have favas from a garden at your disposal, pick tiny
beans (2-3 inches) and eat them whole, as they do in
Europe, for an hors d’oeuvre. Or shell baby beans and
eat them raw, with coarse salt, pepper, dry ham, crumbly
cheese, and plenty of vino. I have never found such
delicate specimens in the United States, but I have been
told they exist. Fresh fava beans are a luxury to be
savored alone or with a few choice ingredients. Do not
hide them or overcook them. Gently stew fresh beans in
a little butter, oil, or cream, Lightly touched with
savory, thyme, or sage. Sauteed seafood, veal, and
lightly smoked meats are elegantly embellished by the
addition of favas during the last minutes of cooking.
Or heat the beans briefly with the skimmed pan juices of
roasted veal, chicken, or pork, then spoon over the
meat. Accent fresh pasta or rice with favas and wild
mushrooms. Cook large, heavy beans longer; then crush
to make a puree, adding cream. butter, and a little
lemon juice. Cook pods alone trimmed of strings or with
beans inside, for a sticky, messy, and savory dish. Or
add trimmed pods to soups and vegetable stews.
PREPARATION- The way you prepare the beans will depend
on their age and how you will cook them. Unless you are
planning to stew the whole pod, I find it is necessary
to remove the skin from the beans, no matter how young.
Many authorities consider peeling to be unnecessary, but
I have yet to find favas that do not benefit from the
removal of the bitter layer. See for yourself. To
shell favas cut the tips from the pods, then press open
the seams. Pull out the beans from the cushioned plush
sleeping bag, where they are so neatly nestled, removing
the little stems if necessary. Drop the beans into
salted, boiling water. Boil 30 seconds (more than a
minute and they mush when you try to skin them). Drain
and drop in ice water. When they are cooled, slit each
skin with your nail and pop out the bean, working
carefully so they don’t break. If you are going to cook
the pods (for this they must be quite small and tender;
sample before cooking), with or without the beans
inside, you’ll want to pull off the strings on both
sides. If resistant, zip them off with a vegetable
NUTRITIONAL HIGHLIGHTS: Fava beans are low in
calories-about 80 per cup, cooked. They are relatively
high in protein, iron, and fiber, are good sources of
vitamins C and A and potassium, and contain modest
amounts of the B vitamins. Note: Favism, an extremely
rare inherited enzymatic deficiency that occurs in some
Greeks, Italians, and what I have seen referred to
collectively as Semitics, Mediterranean Jews, and Jewish
Kurds, causes severe hemolytic anemia. This potentially
lethal allergy can be caused by eating fava beans or
inhaling the pollen from the flowers.
Rajyalakshmi P. Geervani P.
Department of Foods and Nutrition, Andhra Pradesh Agricultural University,
Rajendranagar, Hyderabad, India.
Nutritive value of the foods cultivated and consumed by the tribals of
Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. 46(1):53-61, 1994 Jul.
Twenty five foods cultivated and consumed by the tribals of Andhra
Pradesh, India, comprising cereals/millets, legumes, tubers and
miscellaneous foods collected seasonally from 20 tribal villages were
analysed for proximate composition, vitamins and minerals. The major
findings of the study were as follows: Protein content of cereals/millets
ranged from 6.8 to 11.8 g per 100 g and that of legumes from 20 to 23.8 g
per 100 g. The uncommon legume, judumulu (Vigna sp.) grown by the tribals
had the protein content of 22 g per 100 g. A wild legume, Mucuna pruriens,
had the highest protein content of 27.9 g per 100 g. Mineral contents of
the foods showed greater variations. Two varieties of ragi and horsegram
grown in the area had an iron contents of 38 mgs per 100 g. Among the wild
tubers analysed, Diascorea hispida and D. bulbifera had about 134 Kcal per
100 g. In vitro starch digestibility (IVSD) analysed in the raw tubers
ranged from 8.7 to 11.5 percent and caryota palm pith had IVSD 5.9
percent. Among the miscellaneous foods analysed, rajkeera seed (Amaranthus
paniculatus) had protein content of 22 g per 100 g. Amylase inhibitor
units of the wild tubers varied from 80 to 400 A/U and that of caryota
palm pith was 712 A/U.
Pras N. Woerdenbag HJ. Batterman S. Visser JF. Van Uden W.
Department of Pharmacognosy, University Centre for Pharmacy, Groningen
University, The Netherlands.
Mucuna pruriens: improvement of the biotechnological production of the
anti-Parkinson drug L-dopa by plant cell selection.
Pharmacy World & Science. 15(6):263-8, 1993 Dec 17.
Routinely grown cell suspension cultures of Mucuna pruriens L. (Fabaceae)
were able to endogenously accumulate the anti-Parkinson drug
L-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-dopa) in the range between 0.2 and 2% on a dry
weight (DW) basis. The green colour that developed in light-exposed
cultures, appeared to be a suitable marker to select cells with an
increased L-dopa biosynthesis and/or phenoloxidase activity. For this
purpose, saccharose concentrations from 0 to 4% (w/v), and light
intensities of 1,000 and 2,000 lux, were involved in the selection
procedure. After 6 months, photomixotrophic callus cultures with a rapid
growth and a high L-dopa content of 0.9% (DW) were obtained on 2%
saccharose and under 1,000 lux. The cell suspensions, derived from these
calli, accumulated up to 6% (DW) L-dopa, which was the highest stable
content ever measured in cultures of M. pruriens. An L-dopa yield of
approximately 1.2 g/l was calculated after 6 days of growth. In contrast,
compared wtih the standard-grown parent cell line, the phenoloxidase
activity, and consequently the bioconversion capacity as measured after
entrapment in calcium alginate, of these high-producing cultures was
approximately threefold lower.
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