The adzuki bean, like most beans and legumes, is full of protein and dietary fiber. Also known as aduki or azuki, this bean is grown in the Himalayan region and across most of East Asia. Though they come in an assortment of earth tones, adzuki beans are best known for their red hue and are most used to make red bean pastes for desserts throughout China, Korea, and Japan. Adzuki beans are also full of health benefits, from acting as a blood sugar aid to a weight loss supporter. Let’s find out what’s so special about the adzuki bean protein profile.
Adzuki Bean Nutrition
Just like practically all the other beans and legumes, adzuki beans are full of fiber, protein, complex carbs, and plant compounds known as phytonutrients that can act as antioxidants to fight back against free radical damage and disease. Here are some of the basic nutrition facts about adzuki beans.
A serving size of 100 grams of adzuki beans contains:
- Calories: 128
- Carbs: 25 grams
- Protein: 7.5 grams
- Fiber: 7.3 grams
- Fat: Less than 1 gram
- Folate: 30% of daily value (DV)
- Manganese: 29% of DV
- Phosphorus: 17% of DV
- Copper: 15% of DV
- Potassium: 15% of DV
- Magnesium: 13% of DV
- Zinc: 12% of DV
- Iron: 11% of DV
- Thiamin: 8% of DV
- Vitamin B6: 5% of DV
- Riboflavin: 4% of DV
- Pantothenic acid: 4% of DV
- Niacin: 4% of DV
- Selenium: 2% of DV
The polyphenols in adzuki beans function as antioxidants in humans, exhibiting anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic effects. With up to 29 distinct antioxidants, adzuki beans could easily be considered among the top superfoods.
Adzuki Beans: Amazing Health Benefits
Curious about the scientifically backed health benefits of adzuki beans? Here you go…plus how to prepare them for optimal nutrient absorption!
Adzuki beans can help improve your digestion thanks to their rich content of resistant starch and soluble fiber. These fibers move through your body undigested until they reach your intestines, where they then become food for your good gut bacteria. Having a healthy microbiome of gut flora can reduce the risk of constipation, diarrhea, and even colon cancer, while the antioxidants in adzuki beans can help lower inflammation in your digestive tract.
Adzuki Beans for Weight Loss
Adzuki beans contribute to weight loss in several ways, the first of which is by influencing the gene expression of hunger and fullness hormones. Animal and lab studies have also found that adzuki beans have plant compounds that contribute to weight loss, as well as the basic fiber contained in all beans, which helps slow down digestion, and in so doing acts as an appetite control.
For example, a randomized trial from 2008 found that over a 6-week period, participants who ate at least half a cup (90 grams) of legumes each day lost up to 6.4 pounds more than those who ate no legumes. And a separate comprehensive review of randomized studies demonstrated that eating beans (aka “pulses”) consistently leads to reduced body fat and improved weight control.
Beans and legumes like adzuki beans, kidney beans, black beans, and peas can all help to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. Rich with fiber, beans can help reduce blood sugar spikes after eating and improve your insulin sensitivity.
Adzuki beans also contain a protein that can help block the use of intestinal alpha-glucosidases (enzymes that break complex carbohydrates down into absorbable sugars). This is the same action taken by some diabetes medications, and may help those who are diabetic or pre-diabetic as well.
Enhance Heart Health
Lab and animal studies have found that adzuki beans can help lower triglycerides, harmful cholesterol, and overall blood pressure, all of which serve your heart health. Human studies reveal some of the same effects, as seen in this meta-analysis from 2009, which examined multiple results showing lowered cholesterol levels and reduced risk factors for heart disease. Again this is attributed in part to the fiber content in adzuki beans, as well as their antioxidants and various polyphenols.
Complete Protein Comparison
Adzuki bean protein is particularly worth mentioning, because this food is one of those classified as a complete protein. Complete or whole proteins are foods that contain a full set of all the essential amino acids needed to synthesize new muscle in the body (while complementary proteins are two foods—like hummus and pita bread—that together contain sufficient amounts of all nine essential amino acids).
When comparing adzuki bean to pea protein or mung bean protein, adzuki beans hold up incredibly well, with significant enough amounts of valine and leucine, two of the branched-chain amino acids so valued by bodybuilders and athletes.
Other Possible Adzuki Bean Benefits
There is even more preliminary research that indicates adzuki beans may help reduce birth defects like neural tube defects thanks to their folate content (which pregnant women need extra of). Adzuki beans may also have anti-cancer abilities, help strengthen your bones, and even increase your lifespan due to their lower amount of the amino acid methionine.
How to Eat Adzuki Beans
The best way to obtain all the benefits of adzuki bean protein, fiber, and antioxidants is to sprout them before eating. Sprouted grains and legumes are much more bioavailable to human digestion and contain a more impressive nutrient profile.
Here’s the step-by-step way to sprout and prepare adzuki beans:
- To sprout them, first soak your adzuki beans in cold water for 8 hours.
- Next, place your soaked beans in a glass Mason jar, cover the mouth with cheesecloth affixed by a rubber band or the jar’s metal lid band, then place it at an angle so the water can drain and air can access the beans.
- Rinse and drain your adzuki beans twice a day for 3-4 days, returning the jar to the same position each time.
- Once the beans are sprouted, you can seal them in your jar and store them in the fridge for up to 2 to 3 more days before consuming them.
Not every recipe calls for sprouted adzuki beans, however. Soaking and boiling the beans before mashing them up with sugar to create a sweet red bean paste is a method used in many savory-sweet dishes and Asian desserts like red bean buns. Adzuki beans can also be made into baking flour or added stew-style to other dishes like soups, rice bowls, chilis, and salads. And, let’s not forget, adzuki beans can be used to create natto, a Japanese fermented food (more often made using soybeans) that is eaten for its probiotic value.
Adzuki beans have unique properties that offer heart health, protection against diabetes, and a complete plant source of protein. Try them today to gain their nutritional benefits.