Beans are the edible seeds of certain plants in the legume family. Some common beans include black beans, cannellini beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans (4).
Beans are easy to prepare, inexpensive, and are packed with nutrition which makes them a great addition to our weekly meals.
The nutrition profile will, of course, vary from one bean to the next, but in general, beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber and are high in many vitamins and minerals like B vitamins, iron, and zinc (3). Additionally, beans provide us with polyphenols that act as antioxidants in the body, helping to protect us from chronic conditions like heart disease (3).
Beans have health benefits
The American Heart Association says that “Eating beans as part of a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle may help improve your blood cholesterol, a leading cause of heart disease. Adding beans to your diet may help keep you feeling full longer.” (1)
Do beans cause discomfort, gas, and bloating?
For some, beans can create uncomfortable symptoms like gas and bloat. This can occur because beans contain dietary fiber and resistant starches that are not digestible by our intestinal enzymes, so the oligosaccharides like raffinose and stachyose are digested by bacterial fermentation in the gut, which causes gas (2).
Here are a few tips to reduce the negative effects of beans if you struggle with these issues.
First, slowly increase your dietary fiber intake to allow your body an opportunity to adjust. Second, soak and cook dried beans thoroughly to reduce the oligosaccharide levels that can lead to gas production. Sprouting and fermenting dried beans can also help to make them easier to digest. Finally, consuming prepared canned beans can provide us with the health benefits that beans offer while reducing both the oligosaccharides that cause gas as well as our preparation time.
Health Benefits of this Dish
Adzuki beans (Vigna angularis), like most beans, are packed with protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates, and phytochemicals that act as antioxidants and provide anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic effects (5). Animal studies show that adzuki bean extracts can lower blood pressure which can reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke (6). Some adzuki bean extracts have been found to improve glucose intolerance which can improve blood sugar levels and reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes (7). Adzuki beans, rich in fibers that feed our gut bacteria, can aid the production of short-chain fatty acids, like butyrate, that provide us protective effects against inflammatory diseases like ulcerative colitis and colorectal cancer (8).
Coconut milk is the liquid found inside the mature coconut (Cocos nucifera) of the coconut tree and has a thick, rich, creamy texture. Coconut milk is high in calories and saturated fat (medium-chain triglycerides) and is also a good source of vitamins and minerals like vitamins C and B9, and minerals like copper, iron, and magnesium (9). The consumption of coconut milk has been found to reduce body weight, visceral fat (abdominal fat), and decrease LDL (bad cholesterol) while it increases HDL (good cholesterol) levels which can lower the risk for cardiovascular events (10) (11).
Cumin seed (Cuminum cyminum) is a spice belonging to the Apiaceae family (12). Cumin seeds are a rich source of iron, a mineral necessary for transporting oxygen to body tissues and supporting healthy skin, hair, and nails (13). Bioactive substances in cumin seeds have been found to inhibit the growth of certain pathogenic bacteria like Klebsiella pneumoniae protecting against infection (14). Dietary cumin was found to prevent colon cancer in animal studies, as well as reduce cholesterol and blood glucose levels (14).
Curried Adzuki Beans over Black and Wild Rice Recipe
2 cups dry adzuki beans, soaked overnight
2 tbsp. avocado oil
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
14 ounces tomatoes, diced
13 ounce can coconut milk, full fat
1 tbsp. cumin seeds
½ tsp. ginger, ground
1 tbsp. coriander, ground
1 tsp. turmeric, ground
½ - 1 tsp. red chili flakes
¼ cup cilantro, fresh and chopped
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
4 cups black/wild rice, cooked
Soak the adzuki beans in clean water overnight, drain, rinse, and soak again until ready to prepare. Rinse the beans and add them to a large pot. Fill the pot with water to more than cover the beans, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the beans for at least one hour, or until tender. Drain and set aside. Add the oil and garlic to a large skillet and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, coconut milk, spices, and beans, then cover and heat on high, bringing to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and serve with lime wedges over prepared black and wild rice.
Here’s another adzuki bean recipe.