The Healthy Red Bean

September 11, 2013

Ever had red bean ice cream and wondered exactly what you were eating? Here's your answer and more about the nutritious adzuki bean

If you’ve ever had red bean ice cream at a Japanese restaurant you’ve had adzuki beans. Adzuki beans are Japan’s second most popular bean after soy. In fact Japan consumes 120,000 tons of the little red beans each year. So what’s so great about adzuki beans?

Adzuki beans can be eaten in both savory and sweet applications and the bean has even reached mainstream overseas. In 2007 Starbucks launched its Adzuki Frappuccino, followed shortly by a limited run of adzuki chocolate Kit Kat bars, and an adzuki-flavoured Pepsi in 2009 for the Japanese market, according to Food Navigator.

According to Dr. Weill, adzuki beans, along with lentils and chickpeas, are a staple of the macrobiotic diet, which consists of plenty of fibrous, protein-packed legumes. Macrobiotics considers adzukis to be the most "yang," or warming, of all beans, and consequently, good for imparting strength. Known for their healing properties in Traditional Chinese Medicine, adzuki beans are said to support kidney, bladder and reproductive function.

The fiber in adzuki beans and other beans has many benefits. Dietary fiber helps fill you up, which prevents overeating and therefore getting too many calories - reducing your risk of gaining weight. Fiber rich foods also help support blood sugar levels and reduce LDL levels in the body. Adzuki beans have 6 grams of fiber per 1/4-cup serving. The recommended intake of fiber is at least 20 grams a day for women and 30 grams a day for men.

In addition to being packed with protein and fiber, adzuki beans are a good source of iron, which helps transport oxygen in the body, magnesium, which helps with energy production and relaxation, potassium, great for our heart, zinc which is great for the immune system and B vitamins which are essential to the nervous system. Additionally, adzuki beans are relatively easy to digest, so they should not give you gas as other beans do – but do remember to soak for at least two hours before cooking. Another great idea is to make a stew with adzuki beans and other vegetables like tomatoes, squash, carrots and celery to create a high-fiber meal.

If you've never tried adzuki beans - grab a bag today!