Adzuki beans or Red Beans - high in nutrients, high in protein and low in fat | Recipe for Red Bean Soup
The red beans or Azuki beans (also known as adzuki or aduki beans) are major crop in Japan and China where they are harvested in November and December. In Japan, this small, approximately 5 mm, bean’s popularity is second to soya beans. The name azuki is a transliteration of the native Japanese name, meaning “small bean”. In Chinese, they are commonly termed hongdou (紅豆; hóngdòu) and chidou (赤豆; chìdòu), both meaning "red bean". These red beans possess strong, nutty, sweet flavour, and are commonly used in the macrobiotic diet (Eunice Farmilant. Signet, 1972).
Benefits of Azuki beans :
1) Good source of minerals and protein
Azuki beans are good source of magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc copper, manganese and B vitamins such as thiamine, niacin, and riboflavin. This high-potassium and low-sodium beans help to reduce blood pressure and act as a natural diuretic. Among various type of beans, azuki bean contains the highest protein content but lowest fat. When combined with grains, azuki beans supply high quality protein, a healthy alternative to meat or other animal protein.
Nutrient Profile :
Azuki beans, 1 cup (230g) (cooked, boiled)
Total Fat: 0.23g
Folic acid 278mcg
2) Rich in soluble fibre
This helps to provides bulk to the stool and speed up the elimination of waste from the body, promoting regular bowel movements and preventing the body from absorbing harmful substances.
3) Lower bad LDL cholesterol
A study published in the Journal of Lipid Research in June 1997 showed that eating legumes appears to lower bad forms of cholesterol. This soluble fibre has also been shown to have affinity to cholesterol; hence it is a great substance to reduce the bad LDL cholesterol level in the body.
4) Low calorie and high in nutrients, good for weight loss
Azuki beans are excellent food for losing weight with its low calories and fat, and high in nutrients. Gillian McKeith, Holistic Nutritionist and presenter of You Are What You Eat strongly recommends adzuki bean as the 'weight loss' bean.
5) Healing properties
Azuki beans are known for their healing properties for kidney, bladder and reproductive functions. The bean has diuretic effect, strengthen kidneys, and hence an effective cure to urinary dysfunction and bladder infections.
6) Prevent breast cancer
High in fibre, low in fat and the presence of phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) in aduki beans has been credited by some experts in breast cancer prevention by reducing the estrogens’ levels in the body. Estrogen has been implicated in breast cancer risk due to its support of the growth of estrogen-responsive tumours. In women, the phytoestrogens make the body believe that it is still producing real estrogen hence reducing the actual production of this hormone. (Erika Schwartz, M.D., co-author of Natural Energy (G P Putnam's Sons, 1999)). Phytoestrogens in aduki beans also act as weak estrogens that can block receptor sites which would otherwise be filled by stronger estrogens. Some studies have also shown evidence that women with a diet rich in phytoestrogens have longer and hence fewer, menstrual cycles. All of these factors may contribute to reduced breast cancer risk.
Types of Aduki Beans
There are two kinds of aduki beans, the Basic beans and Hokkaido beans. The Basic aduki beans which are grown in the mid-western United States and Asia are slightly smaller and lighter in colour. Hokkaido beans are grown in volcanic soil on the northernmost island of Japan. They are sweeter than the basic beans, with rounder shape, shiny and deep maroon in color.
How to buy and store
These beans can be purchased dry and whole, in cans or in powder form at most Asian markets or natural food stores. The dry and powdered beans can be kept for six to 12 months in a dry container.
To derive the maximum benefits from aduki beans, eat half a cup per week (Esko, 1988). For people who are ill, Esko recommends eating the same amount twice a week.
How to cook it
Chinese usually cooked the beans till red soft consistency and served with coconut milk. They also like to make the red bean bun or red bean pancake.
The Korean and Japanese like to cook it with rice; their bright colour tints the rice with attractive pink.
In Japan, azuki beans are particularly popular in making confections such as the popular YOKAN.
· The recipe book Aveline Kushi's Introducing Macrobiotic Cooking by Aveline Kushi and Wendy Esko (Japan Publishing, 1988) contains excellent azuki bean recipes if you are into macrobiotic diet.
Recipe for Azuki or Red Bean Soup
Here is my version of red bean soup with sea coconut and coconut milk:
300g red beans
1 cup sugar (according to taste, use molasses or brown sugar for healthier choice)
1 can of sea coconut (optional)
4 piece pandan leaves (optional)
20ml thick coconut milk
4 cups water
- Rinse the red beans and then soak in cold water for at least 5 hours or overnight. The volume of water should double the volume of red beans. Soaking the red beans will reduce cooking time.
- Rinse and drain the water from the red beans thoroughly
- Boil 4 cups of water
- Add the red beans, and boil it for 10 minutes.
- Then, simmer and stir occasionally for another an hour.
- Add the sago and the tied pandan leaves (see photo), cook for another 10 minutes or until the sago turns transparent.
- Once the red beans are tender and just starting to break apart, add the sugar.
- Stir until dissolved. Taste the sweetness. (see notes below)
- Lastly, add the coconut milk and sea coconut. Mix well, and turn off the fire.
- Serve hot or chilled.
Note: Here is the secret to make it extra tasty. Make the soup sweeter than desired in step 7, and before you serve the dessert, add in hot water to warm it up. Or add in crashed ice or ice cubes to cool it. In this way, the soup is less sweet, while the red beans maintain its sweetness.
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Red bean products are normally very sweet, hence it is not suitable for people diagnosed with diabetes.
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© Ingenira 2011
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