Eating the broad bean (fava bean) is perfectly safe for the majority of humans but not so good an idea if you are amongst those with severe glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency. This is because the glycosides vicine and convicine once broken down to their aglycone hydrolysis products divicine and isouramil respectively can induce life threatening haemolytic anaemia. There is actually some evidence that in 80% of those with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency you might be best taking the beans when you get malaria as there seems to be a synergistic protective action. The beans also contain levodopa and tyramine in unpredictable amounts which mean again they have a minority contra-indication as they are not a good idea to take if you are on MAOIs.
The old world fava bean Vicia faba has been domesticated in the Middle East since at least 7000 BC and is a dietary staple worldwide, reflected in its important dietary contribution until the New World was discovered. New World beans are much more diverse but were also dietary staples before European colonisation.
- ↑ Ginsburg H, Atamna H, Shalmiev G, Kanaani J, Krugliak M. Resistance of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency to malaria: effects of fava bean hydroxypyrimidine glucosides on Plasmodium falciparum growth in culture and on the phagocytosis of infected cells. Parasitology. 1996 Jul; 113 ( Pt 1):7-18.