The adzuki bean has been grown and used for many centuries in the Orient. It was introduced to Japan from China about 1000 years ago and it is now the sixth largest crop. It is a cultivated plant not found in the wild and its center of origin is unknown but variously proposed to be China, India or Japan. The major part of the Chinese crop is produced in the Yangtse River Valley. It also grows in south China, Korea, New Zealand, India, Taiwan, Thailand, and the Philippines. Its principal use throughout the Far East is as a confectionery item. It is cooked and combined with varying proportions of sugar, water, starch, plant gums, and other ingredients, and consumed as such or in combination with other foods.
The adzuki bean, also known as the red chori or red cow pea, is a small russet-colored bush bean with a white ridge that runs along its side. It is the second most popular legume in Japan after the soybean. These small, red beans are versatile and may be eaten dried or fresh or even ground into flour to make sweet cakes. Adzuki beans are high in carbohydrates and dietary fiber, rich in protein and several vitamins and minerals.
Adzuki beans are a nutrient-dense food, providing a hefty amount of nutrients compared to their caloric content. They are a good food source of potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, manganese, and zinc. They also contain B-vitamins, including B6, B2, B1, B3, and folic acid. A detailed analysis can be found at: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/legumes-and-legume-products/4273/2
- A great source of magnesium, zinc, iron, copper, potassium, fiber, manganese and B Vitamins, such as niacin, thiamin and riboflavin, adzuki beans contribute to the overall health of the body.
- Adzuki beans are a good source of energy, promote regular bowel movements and help in lowering cholesterol.
- Adzuki beans help in preventing breast cancer.
- Adzuki beans help the liver to detoxify. Just a quarter cup of adzuki beans contains 100% of the recommended daily intake of molybdenum, a trace mineral that produces the enzyme sulfite oxidase which is crucial for liver detoxification.
- Rich in soluble fiber, the beans speed up the elimination of wastes from the body and prevent the body from absorbing harmful substances.
- Since adzuki beans are known to benefit bladder, reproductive functions and kidneys, they are used to reat problems such as urinary dysfunction and bladder infections.
- The beans tone up the heart and spleen, heal swelling in edema, stop vomiting and diarrhea.
- The presence of soluble fiber in the beans also reduces the level of LDL cholesterol in the blood.
- These beans are ideal for people who are on weight-loss diet, since they are low in fat and high in protein. The high-protein content makes you feel full for long and the low-fat content helps in limiting calorie intake.
- They aide in diabetes prevention as they maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
- They build up a strong metabolism that enables the body to quickly and efficiently metabolize the food eaten.
- They contain protease inhibitors that are known to disrupt the development of cancerous cells.
WHERE TO BUY
While adzuki beans may not be available in all supermarkets, you can find them in Asian markets and markets that contain a large health-food or ethnic section.
TIPS FOR PREPARING
Soak the adzuki beans in cold water for about two to three hours. Simmer them on the stove for around an hour and a half. Use three cups of water for a cup of adzuki beans. The beans can also be prepared in a crockpot, though it takes a bit longer. For an herbal touch, add coriander, cumin and ginger while preparing the beans. Once cooked, you can keep the adzuki beans for up to five days in the refrigerator. Or you can keep them up to six months in the freezer.
HOW TO ENJOY
Here are some ideas for adding cooked adzuki beans to your favorite dishes:
- Add to any favorite stew.
- Heat them up and spoon over hot cornbread.
- Make a bean salad with diced veggies and your favorite salad dressing.
- Make bean tacos with corn tortillas, mashed or whole adzuki beans, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, salsa and cheese.
- Mash them up and make bean dip.
- Serve them hot with steamed brown rice, tamari, ginger, garlic and a drop or two of toasted sesame oil.
- Stir them up with chopped, cooked winter squash such as butternut.
- Substitute adzuki beans for other beans in your favorite recipes.
- Throw a handful cooked beans into prepared vegetable soup before you heat it up.
- Try them hot with quinoa, millet or any whole grain pasta.
- Yes, they are even great in chili!
While introducing adzuki beans in your diet, add them gradually, as eating too many at a time can cause gas problems in some people.