(NaturalHealth365) Hippocrates, the 4th-century Greek physician credited with the quote ‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,’ would probably not be at all surprised by the latest medical research on adzuki beans.
According to scientists, these small, reddish-brown, white-striped beans can play an important role in preventing heart disease, while providing outstanding nutritional value. A mainstay of Asian cuisine and macrobiotic diets, adzuki beans have been linked in scientific studies with the ability to lower triglyceride levels and blood pressure; high triglycerides – excessive fats in the bloodstream – and hypertension are both associated with increased risk of heart attacks.
And, unlike cholesterol-lowing statin drugs and prescription blood pressure medications, adzuki beans achieve their beneficial effects with no negative side effects.
How do adzuki beans lower blood pressure and triglycerides?
In a placebo-controlled study published in 2008 in the peer-reviewed medical journal Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology, researchers gave adzuki bean extracts to hypertensive rats for eight weeks. At the end of the study, the rats in the adzuki group had fewer increases in their systolic blood pressure than the control group, along with significantly lower heart and kidney levels of inflammatory macrophages associated with the development of high blood pressure.
The team credited the beneficial effects to the adzuki bean’s high levels of proanthocyanidins, or antioxidant plant pigments.
In a clinical, placebo-controlled study published in 2008 in Journal of Clinical Biochemical Nutrition, researchers found that adult female volunteers given adzuki bean juice for a month had significantly lower amounts of serum triglycerides than the control group. The team noted that adzuki bean juice is a major ingredient in shozu-to, an herbal preparation used in Chinese Traditional Medicine to prevent stress related to aging, and concluded that further study on adzuki bean juice was warranted to clarify its triglyceride-lowering and antioxidant effects.
These numbers put adzuki beans in the ‘superfood’ category
Low-fat, cholesterol-free, with a subtly nutty taste and a satisfying consistency, adzuki beans are an ideal addition to almost any diet.
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one cup of prepared and cooked adzuki beans provides 17.30 grams of protein – over twice the amount of protein found in a cup of yogurt – and contains 294 calories. With .265 milligrams of vitamin B-1, or thiamine, 1.47 milligrams of vitamin B-2, or riboflavin, and 1.649 milligrams of vitamin B-3, or niacin – a cup of adzuki beans is high in B-complex vitamins, which are needed to metabolize fats and proteins and convert carbohydrates to glucose.
The same cup of adzuki beans contains 1,224 milligrams of the essential mineral potassium, an electrolyte needed to regulate heart rate and blood pressure; this is over four times the amount of potassium found in a medium banana.
A one-cup serving of adzuki beans also provides 386 milligrams of phosphorus, which assists calcium in creating and maintaining healthy bones. When it comes to providing manganese – a trace mineral which helps to form superoxide dismutase, the body’s natural antioxidant – adzuki beans really shine; a cup contains 1.318 milligrams, the recommended adult amount for an entire day.
What is the best way to add adzuki beans into my diet?
You can buy adzuki beans whole or powdered at many local health food stores or online. They first must be soaked (overnight) and simmered; then use them as you would any other bean: in rice dishes, soups and stews. You can also enjoy adzuki beans for dessert in the form of yokan, the red bean ice cream featured by many Asian restaurants.
Naturally, you should seek the help of a trusted medical professional to help manage high blood pressure or elevated levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.
Although their colorful appearance gives them a candy-like appearance, adzuki beans have serious benefits – these tiny powerhouses of nutrients and phytochemicals can be a valuable weapon in the battle against heart disease. Enjoy them in good health.
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