The most unique and important health benefits of adzuki beans include their ability to aid in weight loss, prevent and manage diabetes, optimize digestion, contribute to growth and repair, increase energy, lower blood pressure, reduce birth defects in infants, and detoxify the body.
What are Adzuki Beans?
These small beans are native to East Asia and the Himalayan region and are commonly eaten in Japan, China, Korea, and other Asian nations, although they can be found in other parts of the world due to exportation. The name adzuki comes from the Japanese language, although the pronunciation often sounds like “azuki”. These beans are primarily red in color, but white, black, and mottled cultivars can also be found in certain areas. The scientific name of the beans is Vigna angularis, and they grow annually.
These beans are primarily used for sweetened culinary applications in Asian nations, such as in the preparation of natto in Japan. When adzuki beans are boiled and sweetened into a red bean paste, the applications are endless, in savory dishes, sweet desserts, sushi, candy, cakes, or as a topping for waffles, biscuits, or bread. It can even be used to make ice cream. Most people think of beans as savory, but adzuki beans are meant to be sweet.
Health Benefits of Adzuki Beans
Besides the unique flavor, the nutrients of adzuki beans are also quite important; let’s take a look at the health benefits of adzuki beans.
Like most bean varieties, adzuki beans are high in dietary fiber, one of the key elements of digestive health. Fiber stimulates peristaltic motion, moving food through the digestive tract and enabling the smooth intake of nutrients from food. Fiber also helps to eliminate constipation, diarrhea, and bloating, as well as more serious conditions like colon cancer.
The dietary fiber in adzuki beans has a second purpose, regulating the activity of insulin receptors in the body to ensure that blood sugar levels remain normal. This can help prevent the onset of diabetes or manage the symptoms and prevent those spikes and drops that are so dangerous for diabetics.
Improved Heart Health
Folate, potassium, magnesium, and dietary fiber all combine into a powerful cardiovascular boost in adzuki beans. Dietary fiber helps to balance cholesterol levels, while potassium relaxes blood vessels and increases blood flow, thereby reducing the blood pressure and strain on the heart. This can help lower your chances of developing atherosclerosis, which means protecting you from a heart attack and stroke.
Growth & Repair
There is a significant amount of protein in adzuki beans, which is a crucial element of our diet, particularly for vegetarians and vegans who don’t get protein from animal sources. Proteins break down into essential amino acids that our body needs to create new cells, tissues, and organs for both growth and repair. Foods like adzuki beans can also provide us with an energetic boost due to that high protein content.
Many people in Asian countries and abroad turn to adzuki beans (and other bean varieties) for weight loss. The dietary fiber and protein content sates the appetite and makes you feel full, without contributing a sizable amount of calories. 115 grams of adzuki beans (1/2 cup) is only equivalent to 150 calories, which means that you can get a whole lot of nutritive benefits without packing on any pounds.
Adzuki beans contain a unique mineral known as molybdenum in quite high concentrations. This is a trace mineral and is not found in many foods, but it plays a crucial part in the detoxification of the liver. Even a half-serving of adzuki beans provides 100% of the daily recommended intake of molybdenum.
Prevention of Birth Defects
The high content of B vitamins, particularly folic acid, can prevent the development of birth defects in unborn babies. Neural tube defects are a direct result of a folate deficiency, so the high content in adzuki beans can ensure a healthy delivery.
Better Bone Health
If you want to prevent osteoporosis and delay the onset of “old age”, adding minerals like zinc, copper, and magnesium to your diet can seriously boost your bone strength and prevent bone demineralization. Adzuki beans also contain these important minerals to keep you feeling young.
How to Cook Adzuki Beans
These beans are quite easy to cook with, here’s how:
Step 1: Sort the beans to remove any bad ones.
Step 2: Place the beans in a strainer and rinse under water.
Step 3: Once washed, place them in a large pot and cover with enough water so they have room to expand.
Step 4: Refrigerate the pot.
Step 5: Let the beans soak for a minimum of 8 hours, if not a full day. You can also boil the beans for 2-3 minutes and let them sit for a few hours. This way, the sugars that cause digestive distress are reduced.
Step 6: Drain the beans, and refill the pot with three parts of water for one part beans.
Step 7: Boil and then lower the heat to let simmer.
Step 8: Check on the beans after 45 minutes by sinking a fork into one bean. If the bean can be cut easily, the batch is done. If not, continue to cook until tender.
Step 9: Turn off the heat when done, and drain the water. The beans are now ready to be added to any dish of your choice.
Word of Caution: Red bean paste is often an acquired taste, and many people are disgusted by the smell. However, other people find it to be very pleasant. If you are the former, try a different bean, but if you’re the latter, then enjoy! Adzuki beans are not known as an allergenic food.