CAN I FEED MY DOG FAVA (BROAD) BEANS?
A Google search of this question highlights there is a lot of misinformation surrounding this topic.
Fava beans (
Many plant-based ingredients contain 'anti-nutritional' factors.
Antinutrients are most abundant in grains, beans, legumes, and nuts, but they can also be found in the leaves, roots, and fruits of some plant varieties. Phytates, tannins, lectins, oxalates, and other antinutrients found in plant-based foods are the most common. Antinutrients in vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts are only a problem if a diet consists entirely of raw plant foods.
Anti-nutrients can be found in the following foods - Legumes (soya, lentils, chick peas, peanuts, beans), Grains (wheat, barley, rye, oat, millet, corn, spelt, kamut, sorghum), Pseudo-grains (quinoa, amaranth, wheat, buckwheat, teff), Nuts (peanuts, almonds, hazelnut, cashew, pignola, pistachio, brazil nuts, walnuts, macadamia, etc.), Seeds (sesame, flaxseed, poppy seed, sunflower, pumpkin etc), Tubers (carrot, sweet potato, Jerusalem artichoke, manioc (or tapioca), yam) and Nighshades (potato, tomato, eggplant, Pepper)
Antinutritional factors are common food compounds that are particularly difficult to avoid for those who follow a predominantly plant-based diet, such as vegans and vegetarians. ( 1) Looking at the list above you would be forgiven for thinking all plant-based foods posed a considerable risk to health when quite the opposite is known to be true!
Many of these antinutrients have beneficial health effects.
Phenolics are often encountered in these foods and exert beneficial health effects related to their antioxidant activity, chemopreventive effect and anticarcinogenic potential, among others. ( 2)
Back to fava beans and their appropriateness in a dog's diet.
The majority of anti-nutrients are found in the hulls (skins, pods) of legumes. For this reason we use dehulled fava beans in our food.
A lot of the misinformation surrounding the alleged health impact of fava beans relate to phytohemagglutinin or PHA. PHA is a lectin usually found in legumes. In high concentrations, it can cause stomach problems. PHA and other compounds like vicine and tannins are removed during thermal processing – similar to how bacteria are destroyed when animal food is cooked at the right temperature.
The inclusion rate of dehulled fava beans in our recipe is just.3.5%, significantly less that the 10%, 20% and 30% inclusion rate found to be well tolerated by dogs in this research conducted in 2020.
Another of the myths surrounding fava beans and dogs is about favism. Favism is a blood condition caused by condensed tannins in Fava beans’ seed hulls. There are no known cases of favism in dogs. Favism exclusively occurs in people with G6PD (Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase) deficiency who either consumed fava beans or who were exposed to the pollen of the Fava plant.
Anti-nutrients are also significantly reduced through both the cooking and mechanical shearing involved in the cold extrusion cooking method used to produce Bonza. ( 3)
A study, 'Use of low-temperature extrusion for reducing phytohemagglutinin activity (PHA) and oligosaccharides ..' concluded 'that extrusion processing at relatively lower temperature can be effective in eliminating lectins and reducing oligosaccharides' with lectin analysed as phytohemagglutinin activity (PHA), and the oligosaccharides, raffinose and stachyose.
Research published in 2020 evaluated fava beans as an ingredient in dog food and concluded 'that processed Fava Beans were a safe ingredient to be used in dog foods.' ( 4)
In the latest research on fava beans (and high protein meat based diets) the following conclusions were reached by the study, 'Most importantly, fava bean–based diets did not cause haemolytic anaemia and did not alter glucose handling in dogs after 7 days of feeding, thus fava beans appear safe as a dog food ingredient. In contrast, the high-protein grain-free commercial diet adversely altered blood chemistry compared with the normal protein, grain-containing commercial diet we tested. Moreover, the normal protein, grain-based diet appeared to cause excess sympathetic tone, a trend that if it were to continue with long-term feeding, might lead to adverse changes in cardiac health that are distinct from DCM.' (5)
Bonza includes dehulled fava beans in our recipe at a low inclusion rate of 3.5%, that are further treated using a cold extrusion process further reducing the anti-nutrient levels whilst protecting the important health-giving nutrients they provide your dog.