Azuki beans: properties, benefits, uses and contraindications

Azuki beans have excellent nutritional properties and are small concentrates of well-being, excellent for practically everyone! Discover the properties and benefits of azuki beans.

The azuki beans, or adzuki (Vigna angularis), are very popular legumes in Japan, probably the most used after soy. In Italy they are less known even if it is not difficult to find them here too. These are very nutritious legumes and rich in beneficial properties.

Azuki: what are they?

As anticipated, the azuki beans are the seeds of a legume whose scientific name is Vigna angularis, native to eastern Asia, which produces small red seeds, not surprisingly in Japanese azuki means “small bean”. In fact, compared to local beans, the azuki beans are a little smaller. The most common azuki variety is dark red in color, but there are also green, white, black and mottled varieties of azuki.

Azuki beans: calories and nutritional values

Azuki beans have properties and nutritional values ​​typical of legumes, foods that should not be missing in our diet, it would be desirable to eat them at least twice a week. It is a complete food, whose caloric intake is in line with that of other legumes and, specifically, is equal to just under 300 kcal per 100 grams, but it is excellent calories, since azuki are poor. of fats and rich in “good” carbohydrates, in fact there is no shortage of fibers, and also of vegetable proteins. Azuki beans also contain many minerals, among which iron, potassium and phosphorus stand out, and also B vitamins. In addition, they are beans that contain a good amount of antioxidant compounds. Below is the table with the nutritional values ​​of azuki.

Nutritional values ​​per 100g of azuki:

  • Kcal: 294
  • Carbohydrates: 50.1 g
  • Fat: 0.5 g
  • Proteins: 19.9 g
  • Fibers: 11.1 g
  • Waterfall: 12.7 g
  • Iron: 4.2 mg
  • Soccer: 84 mg
  • Sodium: 5 mg
  • Potassium: 1220 mg
  • Phosphorus: 380 mg
  • Zinc: 5 mg
  • Vitamin: B1 0.45 mg
  • Vitamin: B2 0.22 mg
  • Vitamin: B3 2.6 mg
  • Vitamin: B6 0.35 mg
  • C vitamin: traces
  • Total folate: 622 mg
  • Retinol equivalent: 2 mg

Red or green azuki: differences and characteristics

We have said that there are more varieties of azuki beans, but the best known are the greens and reds. Green azuki are also known as mung beans or green soybeans and have nutritional characteristics very similar to those of red azuki. What unites them is in fact the good content of fibers, minerals and proteins. Unlike the red ones, however, the green azuki have many flavonoids, antioxidant substances that protect the cardiovascular system. Like the red azuki, the green ones are also small (less than 1 cm in diameter). Now let’s see what azuki are good for.

Azuki: health benefits

In addition to being very good, one of the reasons why these legumes are so widespread in the Chinese and Japanese culinary tradition is their richness in beneficial properties , which are expressed in various districts and bodily functions. Let’s see below all the benefits of azuki beans.

✓ Digestives

By virtue of the fibers they contain, azuki can improve digestive functions by stimulating the peristaltic movements of the intestine and favoring the absorption of nutrients. This is largely due to the fact that azuki beans, as well as other legumes, are particularly rich in soluble fiber and resistant starch, also carrying out a prebiotic activity, therefore useful for the well-being of the intestinal bacterial flora.

✓ Great for the bones

Azuki beans contribute to bone remineralization by containing mineral salts such as zinc, copper and magnesium and prevent demineralization phenomena due to age.

✓ Benefits for the liver

Azuki beans contain molybdenum, a mineral present in our body in trace amounts, but which is nevertheless essential for many processes, including those of liver and kidney detoxification and therefore are also important for this.

✓ Protect the immune system

The vitamins and antioxidant compounds present in azuki beans help to increase the body’s immune defenses.

✓ Benefits for the intestine

The fibers contained in azuki stimulate intestinal functions, favor the emptying of the colon and thus counteract constipation and swelling . In addition, the high antioxidant content helps prevent and improve intestinal inflammation.

✓ Useful in case of diabetes

Once again the fibers, of which these beans are rich, regulate the insulin receptors determining a better response to the glycemic changes of the body, moreover, in the presence of diabetes , thanks to the antioxidants they contain, they decrease the levels of inflammation caused by this condition.

✓ Benefits for the cardiovascular system

The cardiovascular system benefits from the action of azuki thanks to the combined action of folate, magnesium and potassium and, moreover, of the fibers. These nutrients help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels and modulate the absorption of sugars, all conditions that help prevent cardiovascular disease.

✓ They prevent hypertriglyceridemia

According to traditional Japanese and Chinese medicine, azuki beans are able to modulate the body’s absorption of fats and some scientific studies confirm this theory by demonstrating that the juice of azuki beans is able to decrease the level of triglycerides in the blood.

✓ Diuretics

These legumes stimulate kidney activity by facilitating the elimination of waste and toxins. Therefore, consuming these beans regularly could help in this regard as well.

✓ Antibacterial action

It has been shown that the azuki beans, both in the red and in the green variety, have strong antibacterial properties that are expressed in particular against some bacterial strains such as Staphyilococcus aureus, Aeromonas hydrophila and Vibrio parahaemoliticus.

✓ Promote weight loss

Azuki beans promote weight loss if included in a balanced low-calorie diet and regular physical activity. From some scientific evidence, in fact, it emerged that some compounds contained in azuki can increase the expression of genes that reduce the sensation of hunger and increase the sense of satiety. Added to this is the good content of proteins, which are also useful in increasing the sense of satiety and contribute to the maintenance of muscle mass. Furthermore, it is interesting to know that in a study conducted on an animal model, azuki extracts showed anti-obesity effects by reducing the accumulation of adipose tissue.

How many azuki to eat?

Being legumes, the consumption of azuki beans is strongly recommended since legumes should never be missing in our diet. The recommended standard portion is about 50 grams, if we are talking about dried legumes, which become about 150 grams in the case of already cooked legumes. The frequency of consumption, as the principles of the Mediterranean diet teach us, is at least two or three times a week, but even more, so if we like azuki beans and have no health problems that prevent us, we can eat these legumes several times a week. Furthermore, if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, this food is perfect due to the protein intake. Even those who follow one Low- calorie diet can eat azuki since a portion of 50 g provides about 150 kcal.

What do azuki beans taste like?

Azuki naturally have a taste similar to that of beans, even more similar to that of soy, but they have a sweetish taste, like that of sweet potatoes, so much so that in Japan they are used for the preparation of sweet dishes, in fact they get a ‘excellent jam, but of course they are also excellent in savory preparations.

How are azuki used?

Let’s see how azuki are cooked. If we buy dried azuki beans, like all legumes, they should be soaked in fresh water for about 6-8 hours. If you have kombu seaweed, putting it in the soaking and / or cooking water will make the azuki more digestible. Then they should be rinsed and put to boil in a pot for about 45-60 minutes, adding salt towards the end of cooking. If cooked in the pressure cooker the cooking times become about 30/35 minutes.

Simply boiled and served with extra virgin olive oil and wholemeal bread croutons, azuki beans are excellent, but they lend themselves to many other recipes, starting from soups and first courses with cereals, but also to main courses. For example, it is possible to prepare vegetarian meatballs of azuki beans or even burgers, to be served with the classic sauces of our kitchen or with soy sauce. In summer we can use them to prepare salads to be used as nutritious side dishes or single dishes if we add cereals such as basmati rice or quinoa.

With azuki, in Japan, a widely used jam is prepared, which is called Anko and is the one used to stuff dorayaki, sweets similar to pancakes, filled with red azuki jam.

Azuki: the contraindications

Azuki beans have no particular contraindications; like all legumes, they could cause abdominal bloating and bloating, so those suffering from colon problems (eg in the case of irritable bowel syndrome) should eat them in moderation, without necessarily giving them up. In these cases it is always better to test your personal tolerance, starting with consuming only a small portion.

We also remember that azuki contain nickel, to be taken into consideration if you suffer from nickel allergy. Instead, they can be safely consumed by diabetics and celiacs, since they do not contain gluten and also by children and the elderly for their excellent digestibility.

Where can azuki beans be bought?

It is now possible to find azuki beans easily, first of all in ethnic food stores, both in the dry and canned version, but also online and in many shops and supermarkets, including large-scale distribution. As usual, if you have a choice, buy the organic version.


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