Can you eat runner beans raw?

In this short blog, we will answer the question “can you eat runner beans raw?”. We will also look at the question of what are runner beans, their varieties, the safety of eating them raw, how to eat runner beans, the potential risk and the culinary application of runner beans.

Can you eat runner beans raw?

Yes, you can eat runner beans raw, but must be considered in moderation. Raw runner beans, like many bean seeds, contain trace amounts of the lectin phytohaemagglutinin, which can be dangerous if consumed in excessive quantities. 

Some people are also considerably more susceptible than others, thus some may not have effects on their intake but this is not the same for everyone.

What are runner beans?

Runner beans are a popular garden crop that has been grown for over 2000 years in South America and the United Kingdom. Runner beans have a stronger flavour and texture than green beans, as well as being considerably longer and having gorgeous purple beans inside the pods. 

They are even referred to as Oregon lima beans in Oregon, where they were becoming more popular as a substitute for long-season limas. 

What are the varieties of runner beans?

The runner beans come in several varieties just like many other plant foods. The following varieties have diverse characteristics, however, their seeds can be difficult to come by. On the other hand, the most frequent type, with vivid red blossoms, is Scarlet Runner. Others include:

  • Hestia
  • Kelvedon Wonder
  • Moonlight
  • The painted Lady
  • Prizewinner
  • Crimson Emperor
  • Sunset
  • Tenderstart

Is it safe to eat runner beans raw?

Raw runner beans contain trace amounts of phytohaemagglutinin, a lectin that can be harmful if taken in large amounts. 

Some people are also far more susceptible than others, therefore some people may not experience any negative consequences from their usage, and this is not the case for everyone. However, to be safe, cook your runner beans before consuming them.

How to eat runner beans?

  • You can use the young, tender beans as green beans or wait until they are fully mature before shelling or drying them.
  • Because they are green beans, they are a little tougher and more fibrous than regular snap beans, but cutting and cooking will take care of that.
  • Mature beans can be a little bland on their own, but they go great with heartier flavours like bacon and shellfish.

What are the potential risks of eating runner beans raw?

Raw runner beans, like other beans, contain lectins, a protein that acts as a natural antifungal and pesticide for plants. An excessive intake may result:

  • Lectins are also resistant to digestive enzymes when consumed. As a result, when taken in large quantities, they bind to the surface of cells in your digestive system, causing symptoms such as nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, and bloating.
  • They may also harm your gut cells and negatively impact your gut’s beneficial flora. Antinutrients also obstruct nutrient digestion and absorption, which is why they are known as antinutrients.

Certain beans have more lectin than others, which means that some may be safe to eat raw. While tiny amounts of raw runner beans may be acceptable, it’s recommended to avoid them altogether to avoid any potential toxicity.

What are the culinary uses of runner beans?

Runner beans can be eaten and are also extremely tasty, however, they should be cooked until they are al dente. Some best runner bean dishes you can prepare are salads, pasta dishes, and exotic curries. Here is a list of seasonal dishes to prepare from the beautiful green peas. 

Prosciutto pasta with runner beans

This simple recipe, the epitome of a quick-fix supper with the creamy runner bean & prosciutto pasta is made with just a few ingredients. 

Sri Lanka runner bean curry

This spiced vegan dish is rich and creamy, with a lot of flavours and can be served with rice and rotis.

Paella with runner beans and prawns

The simple runner bean and prawn paella can be enjoyed with the greatest summer flavours. The dish is simple to prepare but spectacular enough for a dinner party or weekend feast.

Ricotta, charred courgettes, and runner beans

To accentuate the flavours, charred courgettes, runner beans, and ricotta are completed with edible flowers, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of sea salt for a colourful veggie side dish.

Runner beans with cacio e pepe

With cacio e pepe with runner beans, you can turn an Italian classic into a light summer pasta dish while using butter, black pepper, and cheese are used to make the basic sauce and a touch of texture and bite to the dish from the runner beans.


In this short blog, we have answered the question “can you eat runner beans raw?”. We have also looked at the question of what are runner beans, their varieties, the safety of eating them raw, how to eat runner beans, the potential risk and the culinary application of runner beans.