The Great Northern Bean is one variety of Navy Beans which are also sometimes called pea beans or haricots. Most often used in baked beans, pies and soups, these have been shown to lower total cholesterol levels. Navy beans contain saponins which have been shown to exhibit antibacterial and antifungal activity and have also been implicated in inhibition of cancer cell growth.
These beans also contain ferulic acid and para-coumaric acid - both of which have been shown to be is a strong antioxidants. FA has been shown to have anti-cancer, anti-apoptotic (prevents cell death) properties. Both are often used in topical preparations that contain Vitamin E and C.Interestingly, white beans, in Costa Rica are used only and exclusively in pork dishes. Navy beans are the most abundant source phosphatidylserine (PS) known. PS is a phospholipid that is found in cell membranes. PS has been used extensively in sports nutrition as it has been demonstrated to help speed recovery, prevent muscle soreness and improve endurance. Most recently, PS supplementation has been indicated to have some benefit in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Two fun facts about these robust beans - they were a huge part of the U.S. Navy diet during the second half of the 19th century - hence the name. And the Navy Bean is the official vegetable of Massachusetts, the Baked Bean State.