Adzuki beans | Learn about the benefits of the adzuki bean
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It’s All About Adzuki

4 April 2018

The Adzuki bean is not very well known here in South Africa, in part, it’s due to the fact that it is widely grown in East Asia and the Himalayas. As some of us may know, legumes are loaded with antioxidants, and the adzuki beans are no exception. Just one cup of cooked beans provides 4.6 mg of iron (~25% RDI), 119.6 mg of magnesium (~30% RDI), 1.223 g of potassium (~25 % AI), 4.0 mg of zinc (~25% RDI) and 278 µg of folic acid (~70% RDI)

The adzuki bean is a tiny, reddish-brown bean with a cream coloured seam and sweet, nutty flavour. It is particularly popular in Asian cooking, most often used for sweet dishes including soups, desserts and as a dim sum filling. Adzuki beans are regarded as the king of beans in Japan and are prized for their health-giving properties: reputedly benefitting the liver and the kidneys. In Japan and China adzuki beans are often cooked, puréed and mixed with sugar to make a chocolatey paste which is used to fill cakes and desserts.

Health Benefits

Fibre

Like most bean varieties, adzuki beans are high in dietary fibre, one of the key elements of digestive health. Fibre stimulates peristaltic motion, moving food through the digestive tract and enabling the smooth intake of nutrients from food. Fibre also helps to eliminate constipation, and we all know that a healthy digestive system means you are much more likely to be healthy in general.

The dietary fibre 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 diabetes patients.

Folate, potassium, magnesium, and dietary fibre all combine into a powerful cardiovascular boost in adzuki beans. Dietary fibre helps to balance cholesterol levels, while potassium relaxes blood vessels and increases blood flow, thereby reducing blood pressure and strain on the heart. This can help lower your chances of developing atherosclerosis, which means protecting you from heart attacks and strokes.

Protein

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.

Weight Management

Many people in Asian countries and abroad turn to adzuki beans and other bean varieties for weight loss. The dietary fibre 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.

Besides all these interesting facts, they are also incredibly delicious and very easy to prepare

Preparation: Soak beans overnight in water. Drain and simmer in water for an hour. Alternatively, pressure cook the soaked beans in 2 cups of water for 5-9 minutes at high pressure. If you don’t have time to soak the beans, pressure cook for 15-20 minutes.

If you are making a dish and want to retain the colour, shape and aroma of the bean, then you should not soak before cooking.

Recipe: Zesty Adzuki Bean Salad

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup dried adzuki beans
1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 cup basil, finely chopped
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
Pinch cayenne
1 tablespoon Soya sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 cup grated carrots

Method:

Put beans in a large bowl, cover with water and set aside to let soak for 8 hours or overnight.

Drain beans and put in a large pot with 8 cups water or vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Drain and rinse gently under cold water. Set aside to let cool completely.

Put oils, ginger, garlic, basil, vinegar, cayenne, tamari and lime juice into a large bowl and whisk to make a dressing. Add cooled beans, green onions and carrots and toss gently to combine.

Nutritional Info:

Per Serving: 220 calories (60 from fat), 7g total fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 190mg sodium, 32g carbohydrates, (6 g dietary fibre, 3g sugar), 9g protein.

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