You may know adzuki beans as azuki beans, red beans, or red mung beans. Like other types of beans and peas, they are part of the legume family. There are at least 60 varieties of adzuki beans, and they’re grown in more than 30 countries, especially China.
If you already eat adzuki beans, you are one of only about 8% of adults in the U.S. who consume dry beans or peas. If you haven’t made adzukis part of your diet, this article will explain how you can and how they may improve your health.
Adzuki Beans and Nutrition
Adzuki beans are naturally gluten-free and rich in nutrients that help you grow and have energy. A 100-gram (3.5 ounce) portion of boiled adzuki beans provides you with:
- 128 calories
- 7.5 grams of protein
- 0 grams of fats
- 0 grams of cholesterol
- 25 grams of carbohydrates
- 7.3 grams of dietary fiber
- 28 milligrams of calcium
- 52 milligrams of magnesium
- 168 milligrams of phosphorus
- 532 milligrams of potassium
Health Benefits of Adzuki Beans
Researchers have studied legumes and provided information on how the nutrients in adzuki beans can help you.
Prevent cell damage. Adzuki beans contain at least 29 different types of antioxidants, compounds that may help prevent some types of cell damage. Experts recommend consuming antioxidant-rich foods instead of taking antioxidant supplements, because high doses of supplements may be harmful.
Weight loss. Adzukis may help you lose weight. A 100-gram portion contains about 25% of your recommended daily amount of fiber. High-fiber foods are usually more filling, so you’re more likely to feel fuller and eat less.
Studies on legumes have found that participants who eat at least ½ cup of legumes a day lost more weight than those who didn’t eat any legumes.
Heart health improvement. A regular diet that includes legumes has been found to help decrease total and LDL or “bad” cholesterol. Legumes can also help lower your blood pressure. A study involved 113 obese adults eating two servings of legumes and four servings of whole grains per day. After 18 months, their weight, waist size, blood pressure, and triglycerides (a type of fat) were all reduced.
Anti-aging. A seven-year study of 785 people aged 70 and over from five different countries showed a strong connection between eating legumes and living longer.
Reduced chance of birth defects. A 100-gram serving of adzuki beans provides you with almost one-third of the folate you need in a day. An important nutrient during pregnancy, folate helps reduce the risk of serious birth defects of the spinal cord and brain.
Muscle and bone strength. Calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium are minerals your body needs to keep muscles working right and your bones less breakable. Adzukis have them all.
How to Use Adzuki Beans
First, don’t worry about the gas. You might not want to eat adzukis and other legumes because the extra fiber they contain can create gas in your intestines and cause flatulence.
Researchers found that soaking the beans for at least 12 hours reduces the amount of gas-producing substances. It also reduces cooking time. Otherwise, you don't have to soak adzukis, because they have thin skins.
You can buy dry adzuki beans at many Asian supermarkets or other specialty stores. To cook dry adzuki beans, pick them over to get rid of any debris, and then rinse them. Place the beans in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover by at least 3 inches. Season the water with salt. Bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer and cook until tender for at least an hour, maybe one or two more.
Be careful with canned adzuki beans, as many of these are sweetened and have a lot of sugar. A 100-gram serving of sweetened adzuki bean paste contains 34 grams of sugar.
Adzuki beans can be used both in sweet and savory dishes. Like other legumes, they are healthy substitutes for meat. You can add them to soups, stews, curries, and chilis, or cook them with kale or other vegetables. You can add them to bean salads or grain bowls.
In East Asian cuisines, adzuki beans are usually boiled with sugar and mashed or pureed to produce a paste. In Chinese cuisine, adzuki beans, whole or as pastes, are found in tangyuan, mooncakes, steamed rice dumplings, sweet soups, and steamed buns.
In Japan, a dish of glutinous rice and adzuki beans is eaten for good luck during occasions like weddings and birthdays. Adzuki beans are found in many Japanese sweets and desserts such as mochi, anpan, jellies, and pancakes.