Adzuki Beans

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Adzuki beans are not as well known as other popular legumes such as soybeans and kidney beans.

However, these little red-colored beans offer excellent nutritional value, and they offer a few potential benefits too.

This article examines what adzuki beans are, their research-proven benefits, and their full nutritional values.

Adzuki beans grow on an annual vine called Vigna angularis (1).

These beans take their English name from their Japanese term ‘Azuki,’ and they play a prominent role in East Asian cuisine (2).

One reason for this is because they predominantly grow in East Asia (particularly China, Japan, and Korea).

Adzuki beans are also popular in India, with widespread distribution in the Himalayas. They also grow around the world, including in the United States (3).

The beans feature in savory and sweet dishes worldwide, and they may sometimes be referred to as ‘red beans.’

Taste

Due to their high fiber content, adzuki beans have a somewhat firm and chewy texture.

As for their flavor, the beans have a slight nutty characteristic, and they are mild and less bitter than most beans.

Perhaps, for this reason, adzuki beans are the key ingredient in ‘red bean paste,’ which features in many dessert recipes.

Key Point: Adzuki beans are high-fiber legumes that grow around the world. However, they’re prevalent in East Asia and Himalayan nations, the two main cultivation areas.

Adzuki Beans Are a Rich Source of Protein

One of the main nutritional benefits of adzuki beans is their protein density. On this note, a cup serving of cooked adzuki beans provides 17.3 grams of protein (4).

For those who prefer raw measurements, 100 grams (3.5 oz) provides 19.9 grams of protein (5).

This protein content places the beans relatively high among the best plant-based sources of protein.

Furthermore, only lupin beans, lentils, and soybeans provide more protein among the various legume options.

Key Point: Adzuki beans offer a good amount of protein, and they are 17% protein by weight.

Adzuki Beans May Potentially Benefit Cardiovascular Health

While there is limited available research focusing on adzuki beans specifically, two human trials have examined the beans’ potential cardiovascular benefits.

Adzuki Extract Study

One of these studies was a randomized controlled trial that featured fifty participants with moderately high LDL-C levels (6).

LDL-C stands for ‘low-density lipoprotein’ cholesterol, but it is often simply referred to as “bad cholesterol” in the media. This is because high LDL-C levels are an established risk factor for cardiovascular disease (7).

In the study, the researchers split the fifty participants into two groups: one given a daily dose of polyphenol-rich adzuki bean extract, and one given placebo. The study lasted for eight weeks, and at the end of the study, blood lipids (cholesterol levels) were examined for each participant.

While LDL levels remained the same, blood levels of HDL slightly increased in the treatment group at a statistically significant level. Triglyceride levels also slightly fell, but this effect size was not statistically significant (6).

Higher HDL levels may lower cardiovascular risk through reverse cholesterol transport, which refers to HDL’s effect on removing and thus lowering LDL cholesterol (8).

It is also worth noting that the high-polyphenol adzuki extracts used within this study contained 42.2 mg of polyphenols. In contrast, raw adzuki beans provide 8970 mg of polyphenols per 100 grams (9).

Adzuki Juice Study

A further randomized controlled trial conducted by Tokyo Medical University also demonstrated that adzuki beans might lower triglyceride levels.

This study gave thirty-nine student participants either ‘adzuki juice’ or a placebo drink. At the end of the study, the adzuki juice group had significantly reduced triglyceride levels than the placebo group (10).

High triglyceride levels are a recognized risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Thus, interventions that lower triglycerides should result in subsequent lower cardiovascular risk (11, 12).

Fiber Content of Adzuki Beans

It is also worth noting that adzuki beans are a rich source of dietary fiber, which may influence cardiovascular health. A cup serving of cooked beans provides 17 grams of fiber (13).

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses of observational studies consistently show that higher fiber intake lowers cardiovascular risk, potentially in a dose-dependent manner (14, 15, 16).

Furthermore, various human trials demonstrate that dietary fiber sources can lower LDL levels, which should also reduce cardiovascular risk (7, 17, 18, 19).

Adzuki Beans