When it comes to wholesome plant-based foods that offer ample nutrition and are also high in protein, legumes undoubtedly feature as one of the best options. While rajma or kidney beans and chana i.e. garbanzo beans/chickpeas are well-known varieties in all parts of India, another nutritious food in this category is adzuki beans, commonly called “Lal Chori” in Gujarati, “Ravaan”, “Chowri” in Punjabi, “Lal Chavali” in Marathi and “Lal Mung”, “Red Mung”, “Red Chori”, Lal Faliyaan” in Hindi.
Having its origins in Japan, adzuki beans, otherwise termed azuki beans, aduki beans, red mung beans, red beans is widely cultivated in Asian countries of China, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, India, as well as being commercially propagated in the U.S, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and South America. With a mildly nutty, sweet taste, firm and chewy texture, adzuki beans are generally small, rounded red coloured beans with a white ridge along on side, but are also available in several other varieties such as brown, black, green, yellow, white as well as mottled variants. Comprising umpteen essential nutrients such as proteins, healthy unsaturated fats, dietary fibres, as well as being packed with vitamins and minerals, adzuki beans are nothing short of a tasty and healthy superfood.
The Adzuki Bean Plant:
Scientifically designated as Vigna angularis and belonging to the botanical family Fabaceae, adzuki beans thrive in the warm Asian regions of China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, as well as in Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra in India. Moreover, owing to the abundant nutritional content and excellent health benefits, these tiny pods are also cultivated in warmer parts of the USA, Australia, New Zealand, besides in Africa and South America.
The adzuki bean plant is an annual herb that is bushy, erect and grows up to a height of 30 – 90 cm. The green stems hold lush ovate leaves arranged in an alternate manner along the petiole. These plants sprout vivid yellow flowers that bud into smooth cylindrical pods i.e. fruits. These pods house the seeds within, which are edible, oval in shape, being mostly red in colour or at times, other shades of black, brown, white, green, mottled.
Thanks to their rich nutrition profile, adzuki beans are widely consumed in Japanese cuisine, as well as in other Asian culinary fares in China, Thailand, Korea, India. They are usually sprouted and eaten boiled alongside rice, mashed into a paste, cooked in sugar syrup as a sweet porridge, made into a flavourful curry/dal with spices and even incorporated into desserts like pastries, pies, ice creams, waffles, biscuits as a yummy topping.
Adzuki Beans Nutrition:
The nutritional value in a 100 gram serving of adzuki beans, according to the Food And Nutrient Database of the USDA (United States Department Of Agriculture), is as follows:
Energy 128 calories
Water 66 g
Carbohydrates 24.8 g
Dietary fiber 7.3 g
Fat 0.1 g
Protein 7.5 g
Thiamine (B1) 0.12 mg
Riboflavin (B2) 0.06 mg
Niacin (B3) 0.72 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.43 mg
Vitamin B6 0.1 mg
Folate (B9) 121 μg
Calcium 28 mg
Copper 0.3 mg
Iron 2 mg
Magnesium 52 mg
Manganese 0.57 mg
Phosphorus 168 mg
Potassium 532 mg
Selenium 1.2 μg
Sodium 8 mg
Zinc 1.8 mg
Adzuki beans possess a wealth of nutrients, including proteins, dietary fibres, carbohydrates, and are low in fats, sodium, which aids in weight loss and heart health. Moreover, they possess key B vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium, that enhance metabolism, digestion, bone strength, skin wellness and regulate blood pressure. In addition, adzuki beans house a treasure trove of antioxidants like polyphenols, anthocyanins, flavonoids, saponins and tannins that showcase useful anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antidiabetic properties, for enhanced overall health.
Adzuki Beans Health Benefits:
Rich in Proteins
Adzuki beans are composed of certain key amino acids, making it a unique plant-based source of high quality proteins. It offers methionine, a sulphur-based amino acid to revive skin and hair health, valine and isoleucine which repair injured muscle tissues and threonine, to enable proper formation of teeth and enamel.
Ideal For Gluten-Free Diet
A significant number of young adults and older people tend to develop an intolerance towards the gluten proteins in cereals like wheat, that, unfortunately, is a regular ingredient in Indian dishes. Adzuki beans being organically gluten-free, can easily be substituted for wheat, to prepare chapathis, dosas and sweets or mithais, and is often recommended for patients with celiac disease.
Fortifies Bone Density
Adzuki beans, being a fantastic source of natural calcium, strengthens bones and joints. It also restore optimum bone density in older people, assisting in alleviating osteoporosis symptoms. Eating measured servings of adzuki beans as part of the daily diet augments bone health, while steering clear of gastrointestinal and kidney disorders.
Controls Blood Sugar Levels
Adzuki beans comprises a plethora of isoflavones, phytates, tannins, polyphenols – plant chemicals that slow down the digestion process. This lowers high blood sugar in those with diabetes mellitus. Also, owing to its low digestibility and rich fiber content, adzuki beans helps in accelerating weight loss and managing other lifestyle diseases like diabetes and obesity.
Iron deficiency anemia affects countless Indian men, women and children every year, leading to excessive fatigue and low productivity levels. Adzuki beans are a powerhouse of iron, serving as a boon for people who experience low hemoglobin levels in blood, thus effectively treating anemia.
Boosts Nervous System Function
Eating adzuki beans in small portions on a daily basis assists in enhancing nerve impulse conduction, activating memory centers in the brain and relaxing the mind, due to elevated levels of the amino acid tryptophan. As the tryptophan brings about an equilibrium in the levels of serotonin – a neurotransmitter, these tiny beans helps in treating anxiety and insomnia, by maintaining good moods and promoting sound sleep.
Augments Heart Health
Adzuki beans are low in cholesterol and sodium, so recipes made with the beans and flour can safely be consumed by those with heart ailments. Furthermore, the abundance of dietary fibers and vitamin B3 or niacin help to enhance good HDL levels and diminish bad LDL levels. This averts plaque and fatty deposits in heart vessels, easing cardiac muscle function and improving heart health.
Nurtures Healthy Pregnancy
Adzuki beans confers massive benefits for the health of pregnant and lactating women. Due to the immense iron and calcium content in these legumes, it is ideal to stimulate milk production and balance hormonal activities in expecting women and young mothers.
Treats Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS refers to irritable bowel syndrome, a commonly occurring intestinal disorder that causes unbearable pain along with abnormal bowel movements, diarrhea, flatulence and constipation. Adzuki is blessed with the goodness of dietary fibers, with quantities higher than many other cereals such as wheat, barley and oats. Eating foods with increased fiber content positively influences bowel movement, regulating fecal bulk and promotes optimal passage of food and other materials within the intestines.
Lowers High Blood Pressure
Being rich in dietary fibers, adzuki flushes out toxins from improperly processed foods and hence circumvents them from getting clogged in blood vessels namely arteries, veins and capillaries. The unobstructed transport of blood and nutrients to and from the heart is thus facilitated, lowering high blood pressure i.e. hypertension.
Remedies Liver Dysfunction
Adzuki beans are heaped with antioxidants, which provide for the prompt removal of harmful free radicals from the system, especially in the liver and gallbladder. In this manner, a balance between the bodily tridoshic states is attained wherein all unwanted fatty accumulations are wiped out of the body, ensuring healthy liver function.
Ameliorates Depression Symptoms
Comprising neurotransmitter regulating properties, adzuki beans efficiently boosts the positive state of mind and suppresses lethargy. This works wonders in uplifting moods, sharpening the intellect and rehabilitating the brain from depression symptoms.
Benefits Of Adzuki Beans For Skin And Hair:
Aside from being a panacea for practically every illness bothering the internal organs in the body, the finely ground flour of adzuki also enhances external appearance by revitalizing skin and strengthening hair. This is chiefly owing to its amazingly high amino acid content and potent antioxidants. Moreover, the slightly coarse attribute of adzuki bean flour makes it a wonderful exfoliating agent, that completely removes dead cells from the face, body and scalp, apart from providing a refreshing look and radiant glow to skin and hair.
Slow Down Skin Aging
The seed coat of adzuki beans is composed of phenolic acids and flavonoids - two classes of antioxidants that are excellent free radical terminators. This promotes new skin cell formation, concealing fine lines and wrinkles. In addition, the vast reserves of amino acids in adzuki help boost collagen, maintaining suppleness and smoothness of skin.
Adzuki flour paste with some milk and honey or other natural infusions is a superb solution to get rid of sun tan, UV ray damage and irregular skin complexion, due to the skin-tightening, protective and rejuvenating traits of the beans.
Reduces Acne And Boils
Adzuki beans are imbued with saponins that possess cleansing properties and tannins, which are plant compounds with anti-inflammatory qualities. Thus, it aids in decreasing acne, pimples and boils, besides brushing away dark spots, dirt, dead cells and scars.
Prevents Hair Fall
Consisting of formative amino acids such as methionine and lysine, applying adzuki bean flour as a paste on hair and scalp enriches hair growth and renews texture of tresses. This controls hair fall and averts premature greying and balding.
Adzuki possesses innumerable essential amino acids and carotenoids that confer useful hair growth and anti-microbial characteristics, when applied as an herbal paste to dandruff-prone scalp. It soothes the hair roots or follicles, thereby repairing damaged scalp as well as dry and brittle hair, besides guaranteeing relief from dandruff and incessant itching.
Adzuki Beans Recipes:
Lal Chori Curry
1 cup adzuki beans/lal chori
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp grated ginger garlic
1 large onion, chopped finely
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
A bunch of coriander leaves
Soak adzuki beans/lal chori in enough water over night or for at least 2 hours.
Pressure cook it with a cup of water or it can be cooked in any sauce pan with lid.
Heat oil in a pan on medium. Add cumin seeds to crackle up then add grated ginger garlic. Saute for a minute till raw aroma goes off.
Add chopped onions and saute for about 3-4 minutes or till they are cooked and change colour to golden brown.
Add tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes to soften them. Then add turmeric powder, red chilli powder and garam masala.
Cook the masala for 1-2 minutes by stirring continuously.
Add cowpeas in the masala along with water in which it is cooked. Mix it to combine with masala.
Add chopped coriander leaves and mix. Add water if required to adjust consistency.
Let it simmer on low heat for 8- 10 minutes. To thicken it mash the chori little bit. Then switch off the gas.
Serve the lal chori curry hot as a side for roti, phulka or naan.
Adzuki beans supply ample protein for strong muscles and dietary fibres for satiating appetite and controlling untimely cravings. Onions provide antioxidants to prevent cancer, tomatoes are rich in vitamin C for immunity and coriander leaves contain alkaloid phytonutrients to enhance liver functions.
Adzuki Beans Hummus
2 cups boiled adzuki beans
3 tbsp tahini sauce
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 small clove garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
In a medium bowl, combine the garlic and lemon juice. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes, to give the garlic time to infuse the lemon juice with flavor.
Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into another medium bowl.
Add the tahini, salt and cumin to the bowl. Whisk until the mixture is thoroughly blended.
Add some water and whisk well after until it is smooth.
Serve this delicious adzuki beans hummus as a dip for fresh vegetables or as a side for salads.
Adzuki beans are rich in calcium, magnesium for fortified bones and joints. Lemon juice detoxifies the system while olive oil is high in healthy fats for heart wellness.
Side Effects Of Adzuki Beans:
Adzuki beans can be safely consumed by normal healthy individuals as well as diabetics and people with heart problems in small portions regularly. However, owing to their high fibre content, ingesting high amounts of adzuki beans presents with problems of excessive gas and flatulence, as well as health issues in the digestive tract, liver and kidneys owing to surplus fibre and protein intake.
It is hence advised to eat adzuki beans in measures quantities as part of the daily diet, to avoid gastrointestinal discomfort.
Adzuki beans, also called red beans/lal chori, are a highly nutritious legume, loaded with proteins, fibres, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that confer astounding merits for overall health. From strengthening bones and joints to supporting a gluten-free diet and rejuvenating skin texture, these legumes are a blessing for optimal wellbeing. Consume adzuki beans in moderate amounts as part of the regular diet, to avoid side effects of gastric problems, gut issues and reap its wonderful benefits for health.