Kidney bean or rajma is a must-have legume that is widely used in various traditional dishes in India and abroad. It takes its name from appearance and resemblance to colour of kidneys.
These nourishing legumes are procured from the herbaceous plant, scientifically termed Phaseolus vulgaris. Although native to Mexico and Central America, different varieties of these beans are extensively cultivated across the world, including in India. While the customary North Indian rajma curry recipe is prepared from the red coloured beans, these pods are also present in white, cream, black, purple and spotted variants.
Rajma Nutrition Facts:
These beans are a storehouse of protein and an ideal replacement for red meat. In fact, piping hot rajma chawal is a perfect balance of protein on par with dairy or meat protein without added calories and saturated fat. A cup of kidney bean provides 15grams of protein.
Kidney beans are an excellent source of minerals such as copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus, molybdenum and vitamins B1 and folate. Negligible sugar content, inherently high on dietary fibres and possessing a low glycemic index (GI), these wholesome beans serve as an ideal addition to a diabetic diet.
Composed of starchy carbohydrates, B vitamins and ample roughage, kidney beans facilitate smooth digestion and ensure optimal metabolism. Moreover, these legumes are packed with profuse quantities of isoflavone and flavonoid antioxidants, which aid in controlling blood sugar, preventing sudden spikes in blood pressure and preserving cardiac muscle function and heart wellness.
The richness of nutrients in kidney beans, hence, provides a host of healing health benefits, including regulating blood sugar, lowering cholesterol and boosting immunity.
Rajam is bestowed with a treasure trove of bioactive compounds, including:Isoflavones: The richness of isoflavones in kidney beans acts as potent phytoestrogens that alleviate hot flashes, regulate the menstrual cycle, prevents osteoporosis and lowers the risk of breast cancer.
Anthocyanins: Kidney beans get a deep red hue due to the abundance of anthocyanin pelargonidin that play a key role in averting the risk of heart disease.
Antinutrients In Kidney Beans
Raw and improperly cooked kidney beans contain many antinutrients that are compounds which lower nutritional value harming nutrient absorption from the intestine. Some of the antinutrients present in kidney beans include:
Phytic acid impairs the absorption of iron and zinc.
Protease inhibitors also known as trypsin inhibitors impede the functioning of digestive enzymes.
Starch blockers impair the absorption of carbohydrates from the GI tract.
However, the antinutrient activities are completely or partially render inactive when the kidney beans are soaked and cooked well.
Rajma Health Benefits:
Regulates Blood Sugar
Rajma is an excellent legume that helps in stabilizing blood glucose levels as it is a good source of soluble fibre and low on the glycemic index. Kidney beans are slow-burning carbohydrates that can prevent a spike in blood glucose levels. Moreover, the soluble fibres in rajma lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, improve insulin sensitivity and assist in managing diabetes symptoms. Also Read: Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
The goodness of fibre in rajma is beneficial in lowering the risk of heart disease. Evidence proves that soluble fibre in rajma lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) and ups the good cholesterol (HDL) by forming a gel-like substance in the stomach and prevents the reabsorption of cholesterol into the body. In addition, rajma is a good source of potassium which dilates blood vessels and lowers blood pressure.
Rajma is loaded with whopping amounts of antioxidants that help in battle cancer. Presence of flavonoids in rajma is beneficial in preventing the formation of cancer cells. According to the American Cancer Institute, lignans and saponins in rajma have the ability to fight cancer cells.
Sustains Weight Loss
The abundance of soluble fibre and protein in rajma is one of the best legumes to be added in a weight loss meal plan. These beans keep you satiated, slow gastric emptying time, and helps in losing weight. The presence of alpha-amylase inhibitor in rajma hinders the absorption and breakdown of starch and aids in losing weight.
Rajma is filled up with essential minerals, calcium and magnesium that help in strengthening bones and prevents osteoporosis. Good amounts of folate in rajma supports joint health and lowers the risk of bone problems like osteomalacia and osteoporosis. Also Read: Calcium: Functions, Food Sources, Supplements, Deficiencies And Toxicity
Consuming raw or partially cooked kidney beans are toxic, as it contains high amounts of a toxic protein phytohaemagglutinin, which may cause diarrhoea and vomiting. While excess intake of cooked kidney beans may also cause digestive discomfort such as bloating and flatulence.
Kidney beans should be soaked in water for at least 5 hours and cooked thoroughly to eliminate most of the toxin, thereby making it safe, harmless and nutritious to consume.