Adzuki beans are brightly coloured legumes that are tasty and nutritious. They are versatile ingredients commonly used in many dishes, sweet or savoury. These beans come in various colours like brown, purple, black, red, green, white, and in unique combinations of these colours. The beautifully coloured coats of adzuki beans are rich in antioxidants. In addition, they have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Moreover, they have a rich nutrient profile and are known for their beneficial role in common lifestyle diseases like diabetes, heart diseases and obesity.
People in East Asia use Vigna angularis or adzuki bean as a part of their traditional foods. Adzuki beans are known as “the red pearl in grain” due to their nutrient content. It is the second most in-demand legume in Japan.
What are Adzuki Beans?
Adzuki bean is also known as azuki bean, red moong bean, red beans and adzuki bean. Red moong beans and adzuki beans are closely related because they belong to the same genus (Vigna). Although each species is different, the red bean can be another name for the adzuki bean. These beans are small and have a nutty and slightly sweeter taste.
Beans Similar to Adzuki Beans
Kidney beans are bigger in size and have a defined kidney shape. In addition, they have higher carbohydrate, protein and fibre content than adzuki beans. Furthermore, they retain their shape and flavour after cooking.
White cowpea, brown cowpea, pinto beans, moong beans, black turtle beans, cannellini beans, and red beans are similar to adzuki beans. However, white cowpea has the highest protein content of them all.
Nutritional Properties of Adzuki Beans
Adzuki beans are full of protein, fibre, iron and B vitamins. In addition, they contain polyphenols, anthocyanins, tannins, flavonoids, and saponins. These components give them their rich antioxidant potential.
The nutritional value per 100g of adzuki beans:
- Energy – 329 Kcal
- Carbohydrates – 63 g
- Protein – 20 g
- Total Fat – 0.5 g
- Dietary Fibre – 13 g
Vitamins And Minerals
Adzuki beans also contain fair amounts of:
- Iron: 27% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 20%
- Potassium: 35% of the DV
- Magnesium: 31% of the DV
- Calcium: 6% of the DV
1. Complex Carbohydrates
Adzuki beans can help in maintaining a healthy weight. That is because they are sources of complex carbohydrates. Unlike simple sugars, they do not break down rapidly in the body. The fibre present in them keeps you full for longer and reduces your tendency to snack often.
2. High-Quality Plant Protein
Vegans and vegetarians generally struggle to meet their daily protein needs. Pulses and legumes are a lifesaver when it comes to increasing protein intake. They contain reasonable amounts of high-quality protein and can help in meeting your daily protein requirements.
3. Low Fat Food
Thanks to their low-fat content, you can eat them without the fear of gaining weight. They also contain healthy fats and can help in reducing the risk of many heart diseases.
4. Low Glycemic Index
Since they contain reasonable amounts of fibre, they have a very low glycemic index. It makes them a perfect low glycemic index food for people with diabetes.
5. High Iron Content
These beans can help reduce the risk of anaemia. That is because they contain high concentrations of iron. So, pair your bean curry with vitamin- C rich foods to enhance the iron absorption from the food.
Adzuki beans contain polyphenols, flavonoids and tocopherols. These substances give them antioxidant properties. In addition, they help reduce free radical damage, improve skin health, prevent inflammation and help in getting rid of toxins from the body.
Health Benefits of Adzuki Beans
1. Improves Blood Sugar Control in Diabetics
High blood sugar can result in many complications such as stroke, heart failure, inflammation and brain damage. Therefore, diabetic patients should monitor their blood glucose levels regularly. Consuming a low glycemic index diet which includes foods with GI lesser than or equal to 55, can adequately control blood glucose levels in diabetics.
Adzuki beans have a glycemic index of 26, making them a low GI food and an essential component of a low glycemic index diet. In addition, since they are rich in fibre, they do not rapidly break down. As a result, they prevent spikes in blood sugar levels after a meal.
A study found that consumption of adzuki beans may help improve blood glucose levels in people with diabetes while assisting them to increase their protein intake.
2. Improves Digestion
Adzuki beans are rich in soluble fibre and starch. Antioxidants present in the beans can reduce gut inflammation and enhance digestion. The fibre passes through the digestive system and regulates the peristaltic movement. Fibre serves as food for healthy gut bacteria and improves gut health. In addition, it enables the proper absorption of nutrients from food.
3. Improves Blood Pressure
Uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to dangerous outcomes like stroke. It can be due to narrow arteries, chronic kidney disease and heart failure. Anthocyanin, a polyphenolic component present in these beans, reduces free radical damage in the body. In addition, some studies suggest that consumption of adzuki beans may increase the production of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide helps relax the walls of the arteries in the heart. By this mechanism, adzuki beans may aid in reducing the systolic and diastolic pressure of the heart.
4. Reduces Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels
A study demonstrates that consumption of cooked or germinated red moong beans may play an essential role in reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body. In addition, consuming these beans may reduce the deposition of lipids in the liver, and they have hepato-protective effects. It is due to the soluble fibres. They bind to the cholesterol and carry it out of the system through excreta.
Excessive accumulation of fat in the liver can lead to oxidative damage to the tissues due to increased free radical formation. It can result in abnormal fats, inflammation and other complications such as fibrosis.
5. Reduces Risk of Obesity and Improve Gut Health
Eating foods rich in simple sugars, trans fats, and saturated fats can disturb the microbial environment of the small intestine.
Adzuki beans may reduce the chance of weight gain by regulating the microflora present in the gut by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria. Since they contain starch and soluble fibre, they pass through the digestive tract undisturbed by the gut enzymes. In addition, they act as food for the good bacteria in the gut.
The fibre present in these beans keep you feeling full for longer and reduces the need to binge on unhealthy snacks. In addition, a study suggests that adzuki beans may reduce obesity and disorders associated with lipid metabolism.
6. Prevention of Kidney Disease
Chronic Kidney Disorders (CKD) can lead to other conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases and fluid accumulation. According to a study, the proanthocyanidins and fibres present in the seed coats of adzuki beans may improve interstitial fibrosis in kidney damage. However, you should soak the beans before eating to lower their sodium and potassium content.
7. Help in Pregnancy And Lactation
Folic acid is an important nutrient essential for babies’ proper growth and development. During pregnancy, folic acid deficiency can result in several congenital disabilities such as spina bifida.
Adzuki beans contain a good amount of folic acid, which may help prevent neural tube defects associated with a folic acid deficiency in pregnant mothers. In addition, these beans have high iron and calcium content and are ideal for stimulating milk production. They also help to balance hormonal activities in pregnant women and young mothers.
8. Antimicrobial Activity
Adzuki beans contain polyphenolic substances that give them their colour. These polyphenols possess antimicrobial properties. In addition, several studies suggest that these polyphenols may inhibit the growth and invasion of microbes by causing damage to the cell membrane and altering their DNA synthesis processes.
Research suggests that the polyphenols present in adzuki beans of various colours may inhibit the growth of eight different bacterias, including E.coli and salmonella.
9. Antioxidant Effects
Adzuki beans are famous for their antioxidant properties due to reasonable amounts of polyphenols, flavonoids and saponins. These components reduce oxidative stress by neutralising the free radicals produced in the body.
Adzuki beans possess anti-inflammatory, anticancer and antioxidant properties due to the presence of these substances. In addition, they also help in preventing cell damage.
10. Anticancer Effects
Research indicates that adzuki beans significantly inhibit the development of cancer cells in the digestive tract, reproductive system, and bones
11. Skin And Hair Benefits
Adzuki beans contain saponins which have foaming properties. Tocopherols and healthy fats present in them can help in collagen formation. In addition, it aids in tissue healing and maintains a young shine to your skin. Studies show that they may also be beneficial in preventing atopic dermatitis. Adzuki beans contain lysine, the formative amino acid. In addition, they contain essential amino acids and carotenoids that are useful for hair growth. The paste of adzuki beans soothes the hair roots, repairs damaged scalp, dry and brittle hair and may provide relief from itching.
12. For Bowel Problems
As these beans contain a good amount of soluble fibre, you can use them to relieve gut issues such as diarrhoea. In addition, consuming them after cooking for at least 30 minutes can make them easier to digest.
Ways to Use Adzuki Beans
1. Add Them to Your Desserts
You can make sticky rice cakes, sweet buns, and ice cream with red bean paste. You can prepare them with cooked adzuki beans mashed into a paste with sugar.
2. Spice up Your Vegetable Curries
The beans are a versatile ingredient that you can utilise in a range of vegan and vegetarian meals. You can cook adzuki beans with garlic, coconut milk, and other curry spices for a sweet and spicy meal.
3. Gives a Hint of Sweetness to Your Savoury Soups
These beans are particularly delicious in soups and stews. They blend nicely with root vegetables and other lentils in soups. In addition, they add a touch of sweetness to them.
4. Flavoured Tea
You may use adzuki beans to make tea by roasting them first and then boiling them in water. Add fruit peels, honey, or sugar and enjoy added flavour and sweetness.
5. Use Them in Your Salads
You can use adzuki beans in various salads, from beans to traditional green salads. Toss cooked and cooled adzuki beans with veggies and a tangy salad dressing for a light lunch or supper. You may also sprout them in the same way as conventional mung bean sprouts.
6. Substitute for Other Beans
Adzuki beans are the best substitute for kidney beans, pinto beans, moong beans, black turtle beans and cannellini beans. You can use all these beans interchangeably in many dishes. It is because they have a similar structure, texture and nutty taste. Although, these beans have a slight hint of sweetness to it.
Remember that kidney beans take more time to soak and cook than adzuki beans due to their large size.
Nutritious Recipes Using Adzuki Beans
1. Adzuki Bean Brownie
Cooking Time: 45 mins
- Adzuki beans (Cooked): 300 grams
- Cocoa powder: 1/2 cup
- Agave syrup: 1/2 cup
- Coconut oil: 1/4 cup
- Salt: 1/4 teaspoons
- Vanilla extract: 3 teaspoons
- Eggs: 2
- Baking soda: 1/2 teaspoon
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Blend all ingredients except eggs. Add eggs after the mixture is soft, and blend again.
- Line the pan with parchment paper and grease with coconut oil.
- Add the mixture to the pan and bake for 30 minutes.
- Slice the brownie after cooling.
2. Traditional Red Bean Paste
Cooking Time: 1 hr
- Adzuki Beans: 100g
- Sugar: 1 cup
- Water: 4 cups
- Salt to taste
- Soak the beans overnight.
- Rinse and drain the adzuki beans. Transfer them to a pot and add 4 cups of water.
- Simmer the beans.
- Cook the beans for 40 minutes or until they are soft.
- Add sugar and salt. Keep stirring while adding the sugar and salt. Turn off the heat when a thick paste starts to form.
- Transfer to a bowl after the paste cools down.
Possible Side Effects of Adzuki Beans
Gas And Stomach Pain
Adzuki beans contain reasonable amounts of dietary fibre. However, while it is beneficial to the body in many ways, it is essential not to go overboard. Consumption of high doses of adzuki beans may lead to flatulence, diarrhoea and stomach disturbances.
Fibre passes undigested through our body until it reaches the intestines. Fermentation of large amounts of fibre in the gut can lead to increased gas causing discomfort.
Indigestible substances present in them, such as raffinose, can cause bloating. Soaking for 12 hours and cooking the beans can remove these substances and prevent gut issues. In addition, adzuki beans contain antinutrients, which reduce the body’s ability to absorb minerals from the beans.
Soaking, sprouting, and fermenting the beans before eating them reduces antinutrient levels and makes them easier to digest.
Adzuki Bean Allergy
Adzuki bean allergy is extremely rare. However, a study found that people with this type of allergy may develop severe skin lesions and urticaria. In such cases, they require immediate medical attention.
Since ancient times, adzuki beans have been popular for their wide range of health benefits. For years, they have been used in many sweet and savoury dishes in different forms. If consumed right, these beans can help prevent many health-related conditions. However, it is essential to include them within safe limits. Too much of anything is good for nothing.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Is adzuki beans the same as red beans?
A. Adzuki beans are also referred to as red beans due to their red colour. Although the most common form of adzuki beans is red, white, black, grey and mottled varieties also exist.
Q. What is special about adzuki beans?
A. The most unique property of adzuki beans is that they come in various colours and combinations of colours. In addition, they are rich in protein, fibre, iron and antioxidant substances. As a result, they have a wide range of health benefits.
Q. How do you eat adzuki beans?
A. Adzuki beans are also suitable for consumption like regular beans. You should soak the adzuki beans overnight and then cook them. You can also add them to soups, curries, salads and desserts.
Q. What beans are similar to adzuki beans?
A. When it comes to nutrition, adzuki beans are similar to black beans, kidney beans, Pinto beans and red beans. But no beans are identical to adzuki beans’ sweetness. In addition, Adzuki beans take less time to cook when compared to other beans.
Q. What is the difference between red kidney beans and adzuki beans?
A. Red kidney beans are kidney-shaped, nutty in taste, larger in size and take more time to cook. On the other hand, adzuki beans are smaller and slightly sweet. In addition, they take less time to cook.
Q. Can adzuki beans be substituted for kidney beans?
A. Adzuki beans and kidney beans can be used interchangeably in recipes as both are similar in texture. But adzuki beans have a slightly sweeter taste. Thus, you cannot use kidney beans as a switch for adzuki beans in desserts.
Q. Do adzuki beans cause gas?
A. Yes, consuming large amounts of adzuki beans can cause gas and stomach pain. It is because of the high fibre content in them. Overconsumption of fibre in your diet may lead to gas and stomach-related issues.
Q. Do adzuki beans cause bloating?
A. Yes, when taken in excess, adzuki beans can cause bloating due to the gases released when the fibres get fermented in the gut.
Q. Are adzuki beans good for kidneys?
A. Yes, they prevent kidney diseases. The antioxidants in adzuki beans make them a great cleanser. As a result, it helps to detoxify our renal organs. Also, the adzuki bean has the same shape as a kidney.
Q. Are adzuki beans good for your skin?
A. Yes, they are rich in antioxidants compounds and healthy fats. As a result, they can improve skin health from both inside and out. Adzuki beans gently exfoliate skin and nourish dry and flaky skin. Adzuki beans are used widely in Asian skincare.
Q. Are adzuki beans high in iron?
A. Yes, adzuki beans contain high amounts of iron and can prevent the risk of anaemia. Consuming (raw weight) 100g of adzuki beans can meet 27% of the RDI of iron.