Needless to mention, a balanced diet consisting of all the essential nutrients of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals, is central for a fit body and sound mind all-year-round. Yet, in situations of seasonal changes giving rise to disorders, higher risk of illness and unprecedented pandemics like the rampantly spreading lethal coronavirus disease that infected millions of people around the world this year, extra healthcare measures are necessary. Moreover, the rather stressful professional and personal environments today at work and home invariably lead to numerous ailments, like indigestion, nervous system malfunctions and infertility, affecting a significant number of young men and women. Not to worry, for the heaps of flora found in Mother Nature offer one extremely therapeutic and truly miraculous organic bounty, a legume known as Kaunch Beej, in addition to the several nourishing produce of vegetables, fruits, nuts, herbs.
A proven solution in rectifying reproductive anomalies, gut complaints, brain-related disorders like Parkinson’s, kaunch beej is also very effective in mending diabetes symptoms, preventing cancers, boosting immunity, improving heart health, easing joint pain in arthritis and enhancing kidney functions. Popularly and quite aptly dubbed as “the magic velvet bean”, “Kaunch Beej” or simply “Kaunch”, “Konch”, “Kevanch” as termed in Hindi, is called “Cowhage”, “Cowitch” in English, “Kapikacchu” in Sanskrit and holds the botanical nomenclature Mucuna pruriens. It is clad by various local names including “Poonaikali Vidai” in Tamil, “Naikorana” in Malayalam, “Nasugunni” in Kannada, “Duradagondi” in Telugu and “Kavaskuili” in Marathi.
The Kaunch Beej Plant:
Mucuna pruriens or Kaunch beej is a climbing leguminous plant, that thrives in tropical environs of India, China as well as other warm locales in Asia, Africa and America. It is a leguminous food crop that belongs to the Fabaceae plant family. The plant usually reaches a height of up to 15 meters, with long, flexible branches, vivid green leaves arranged alternately and bearing white flowers. The most-widely consumed part of the kaunch beej plant are the seed pods/legumes, covered by a thick hairy layer and encompassing the four to six seeds, also edible, that are dark brown in colour.
Although domesticated lentils like chickpeas (chana), green gram (moong dal), kidney beans (rajma) form the staple protein-rich ingredients widely used in Indian cooking, kaunch beej, originating in the wild, is a rather underrated, yet equally nourishing and proteinaceous legume. Kaunch beej is valued for its medicinal properties in Ayurveda, where it is commonly referred to by its Sanskrit terminology Kapikacchu and supplies a rich nutrient profile when added to the regular diet.
Kaunch Beej Nutrition Content:
Kaunch Beej seeds and their green enclosures display a rather impressive nutritional profile, encompassing all the essential macronutrients - carbohydrates, fibers, fats and proteins, along with noteworthy levels of key micronutrients - vitamins and minerals. It has negligible levels of cholesterol and sodium, to promote heart wellness. In addition, kaunch beej contains considerable quantities of vitamins C and E, to boost immune, skin and hair health.
The B complex vitamins - thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and folic acid, as well as calcium, magnesium, iron and phosphorous, are also found in ample amounts in kaunch beej seeds.
The nutrition values in a 100 g serving of kaunch beej seeds are:
Kaunch Beej Calories - 385Macronutrients:
Total Fat 7%
Saturated Fat 3%
Polyunsaturated Fat 5%
Monounsaturated Fat 2%
Total Carbohydrates 25%
Dietary Fiber 14%
Folic Acid 3%
Vitamin C 7%
Vitamin E 4.6%
Kaunch Beej is, in fact, a healthy plant-based protein source. It has the distinction of being a relatively rare plant source of crucial essential amino acids namely isoleucine, tryptophan, valine, methionine and threonine, thus complementing both vegetarian and vegan diets.
Also Read: Top 3 Vegan Probiotic Foods To Boost Your Overall Health
Kaunch Beej Health Benefits:
Treats Gut Problems
Kaunch Beej comprises a vast array of key nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, B-complex vitamins, iron, calcium, antioxidants, proteins, fibers, sufficient calories and useful unsaturated fats. Following a deep sleep at night, the stomach and intestines display peak levels of metabolism in the morning. Hence, having kaunch beej dishes for breakfast activates the digestive juices and ensures complete assimilation of nutrients found in kaunch beej, which are absorbed into the bloodstream and transferred to vital organs in the body namely the heart, brain, lungs, liver and kidneys. This ensures optimal digestion processes and rectifies instances of indigestion, bloating, flatulence, acidity and heartburn.
Supplies Essential Amino Acids
Kaunch Beej is 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 the proper formation of teeth and enamel.
Supports a Gluten-Free Diet
A significant number of young adults and older people tend to develop intolerance towards the gluten proteins in cereals like wheat, that, unfortunately, is a regular ingredient in Indian dishes. Kaunch Beej, being organically gluten-free, can easily be substituted for wheat, to prepare chapatis, dosas and sweets or mithais, and is often recommended for patients with celiac disease.
Fortifies Bone Density
Kaunch beej, being a fantastic source of natural calcium, strengthens bones in growing children. It also restores optimum bone density in older people, assisting in alleviating osteoporosis symptoms. While younger people can consume kaunch beej daily, middle-aged and older adults need to eat measured servings of kaunch beej seeds, to augment bone health, while steering clear of gastrointestinal and kidney disorders.
Keeps Blood Sugar Levels In Check
Kaunch beej, although being high in calories and carbohydrates for instant energy, also comprises a plethora of 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, kaunch beej is good for adults, for 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. Kaunch beej is a powerhouse of iron, serving as a boon for people who experience low haemoglobin levels in the blood, thus effectively treating anemia.
Also Read: Anemia: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
Boosts Nervous System Function
Eating kaunch beej in controlled portions daily assists in enhancing nerve impulse conduction, activating memory centres 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, kaunch beej helps in treating anxiety and insomnia, by maintaining good moods and promoting sound sleep.
Augments Heart Health
Kaunch beej is completely devoid of cholesterol and sodium, so recipes made with kaunch beej can safely be consumed by those with heart ailments. Furthermore, the abundance of dietary fibers and vitamin B3 or niacin helps 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.
Kaunch Beej For Pregnancy And Lactation
Soaking some kaunch beej seeds overnight and consuming it next morning has massive benefits for the health of pregnant and lactating women. Due to the immense iron and calcium content in kaunch beej, it is ideal to stimulate milk production and balance hormonal activities in expecting women and young mothers.
Contributes To Nutritional Needs
The comprehensive nutritional content in kaunch beej makes it a perfect food for meeting a growing child’s ever-expanding nutrient requirements. Dished with kaunch beej can be given to young kids, to meet their extensive nutrition needs. Due to its protein and healthy fat content, kaunch beej does increase weight in young children, assisting in their routine development.
Remedies Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS refers to irritable bowel syndrome, a commonly occurring intestinal disorder that causes unbearable pain along with abnormal bowel movements, diarrhoea, flatulence and constipation.
Kaunch beej is blessed with the goodness of dietary fibers, with quantities higher than many other portions of cereal such as wheat, barley and oats. Eating foods with increased fiber content positively influences bowel movement, regulating faecal bulk and promotes optimal passage of food and other materials within the intestines. In this manner, consuming a meal with kaunch beej seeds or powder for breakfast stimulates healthy metabolism, remedies IBS symptoms and even assists in averting the risk of colon cancer.
How To Make Kaunch Beej Powder:
2 cups kaunch beej seeds
Soak the kaunch beej seeds in water for one hour.
Completely dry them, then transfer them to a mixer and blend.
Once a fine powder is obtained, store the contents in a clean, air-tight jar and use within one week.
Kaunch Beej In Ayurveda:
The therapeutic applications of kaunch beej are of a tremendous magnitude, in Ayurveda - the traditional Indian system of medicine. The olden Ayurvedic scriptures praise the healing potential of kaunch beej in successfully battling hypertension or high blood pressure, averting cancer, treating depression and remedying liver disorders.
Effect On Doshas
Kaunch beej, in essence, has a madhura rasa (sweet taste) with intrinsically laghu and ruksha gunas (light and dry qualities). It possesses ushna virya (heating potency), balancing the kapha (earth and water) dosha (element) while excessively influencing pitta (fire and water) and vata (air and ether) doshas. Moreover, it fosters the positive and equalizing states of mind namely sattva and rajas, effectively eliminating tamas or a negative mindset.
Boosts Sexual Wellness
The vast array of powerful antioxidants in kaunch beej seeds tremendously bolster sexual performance and stamina, alleviating symptoms of infertility and low sperm count in men. It is useful in promoting blood circulation to the reproductive organs, balancing the hormonal levels and functions as a natural aphrodisiac, improving libido in men.
Lowers High Blood Pressure
Being rich in dietary fibers, kaunch beej flushes out Ama 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
Kaunch beej is 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, kaunch beej efficiently boosts the positive state of mind - sattva and suppresses lethargy or tamas. Thus, sipping on a cup of warm beverage much like coffee, but made with ground, roasted launch beej seeds, works wonders in uplifting moods, sharpening the intellect and rehabilitating the brain from depression symptoms.
Kaunch Beej Uses For Skin And Hair:
Aside from being a panacea for practically every illness bothering the internal organs in the body, powder prepared from kaunch beej seeds also enhances the 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 kaunch beej powder 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.
Supplies Anti-Aging Benefits
The seed coat of kaunch beej 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 kaunch beej help boost collagen, maintaining suppleness and smoothness of the skin.
Applying a herbal mask of kaunch beej powder 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 kaunch beej.
Reduces Acne And Boils
Kaunch beej is imbued with tannins, which are plant compounds with anti-inflammatory qualities. Thus, it aids in decreasing acne, pimples and boils, besides brushing away dark spots and scars.
Prevents Hair Fall
Consisting of formative amino acids such as methionine and lysine, a kaunch beej powder hair mask as well as the seeds in the diet enriches hair growth and renews texture of tresses. This controls hair fall and averts premature greying and balding.
Kaunch beej possesses innumerable essential amino acids and carotenoids that confer useful hair growth and anti-microbial characteristics when applied as a 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 incessant itching.
Also Read: Homemade Hair Masks To Beat Dandruff
Kaunch Beej Recipes:
Kaunch Beej Curry
1 ½ cups kaunch beej seeds, soaked and boiled
1 medium onion, cut
1 small tomato, chopped into pieces
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
2 tsp mustard oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
Coriander leaves, for garnish
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tsp amchur powder
Salt, for taste
In a pan, heat the oil, temper the cumin seeds on high flame until they sputter.
Lower the flame, add the onions and cook till they turn translucent.
Then add the tomato pieces, kaunch beej seeds, spices, ginger garlic paste, needed amount of salt and cook for 10 minutes until all flavours soak in.
Turn off the stove, garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with chapati or rice.
Kaunch beej possesses a treasure trove of antioxidants, that enrich skin texture and hair growth, besides high levels of proteins, dietary fibers for gut health, heart functions and improves brain activity. Tomatoes supply lycopene antioxidants while onions are rich in quercetin, that help prevent cancer. Coriander leaves abound in vitamin A, for healthy eyesight.
Also Read: Coriander Leaves: 5 Excellent Health Benefits Of Adding These Aromatic Leaves To Your Daily Diet
Kaunch Beej Roti
2 cups kaunch beej powder
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 small green chillies, vertically cut
2 medium carrots, shredded
¾ cup mint leaves, finely chopped
½ cup coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp cumin powder
Salt, to taste
Ghee, as required
Water, as needed
In a large mixing bowl, put together kaunch beej powder, onions, green chillies, mint leaves, coriander leaves, shredded carrots and salt.
Mix it thoroughly, adding a little water from time to time.
Knead it completely to obtain a dough-like composition which is smooth and malleable.
Cover this bowl with a lid and let it sit at room temperature for 20 – 30 minutes.
Once the dough is set, add the red chilli powder and cumin powder to introduce a mildly spicy and tangy flavour to the dough.
Divide the kaunch beej dough into equal portions.
Make even, round balls and flatten it, to obtain symmetrical round shapes.
Heat a tava on medium flame, cook the dough on one side with some ghee and flip it over to fully cook the other side as well, until it turns slightly darker in shade.
Remove from the tava, drizzle some ghee generously on both sides of the rotis, to keep them soft.
Hot kaunch beej rotis, seasoned with vegetables and spices, is ready to be eaten. It goes well with all varieties of pickles and chutneys.
Kaunch beej powder is overflowing with the goodness of healthy unsaturated fats and contains zero cholesterol, to boost cardiac functions. Onion comprises the powerful antioxidants known as quercetin, which offers useful anti-inflammatory traits for preventing cancers. Coriander leaves have copious amounts of vitamin A, for enhanced vision and alkaloids, to protect the liver and gall bladder.
Kaunch Beej Side Effects:
In general, eating kaunch beej seeds and powder regularly is well-tolerated by most healthy people and even by those who are overweight or have certain lifestyle disorders like diabetes.
However, kaunch beej consumption must be either completely avoided or limited, by people with kidney complications, as the seed has high calcium content. This, in turn, can increase the levels of oxalic acid and lead to more urinary calculi or kidney stones in the body.
Also Read: Natural Ways To Get Rid Of Kidney Stones
Kaunch beej is a very advantageous leguminous crop, that can be taken by people of all ages. It is indeed a super-food, abounding in all the essential nutrients, including dietary fibers, proteins, iron, calcium, antioxidants and vitamins, besides being gluten-free and hence safe for those with specific cereal and gluten allergies.
Nevertheless, like all other foods, kaunch beej must also be eaten only in moderation, to avoid any adverse effects from cropping up in the body. When consumed in carefully measured proportions, kaunch beej seeds and powder could help in averting instances of infertility in men, degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis, arthritis and nervous system disorders like Parkinson’s, thereby promoting overall wellbeing.