Adzuki beans, also called azuki or aduki, are a small bean grown throughout East Asia and the Himalayas.
Though they come in a range of colors, red adzuki beans are the most well known.
Adzuki beans are linked to several health benefits, ranging from heart health and weight loss to improved digestion and a lower risk of diabetes. Plus, they are easy to incorporate into a variety of dishes.
This article tells you everything you need to know about adzuki beans.
Like most beans, adzuki beans are loaded with fiber, protein, complex carbs and beneficial plant compounds.
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) portion contains (1):
- Calories: 128
- Protein: 7.5 grams
- Fat: Less than 1 gram
- Carbs: 25 grams
- Fiber: 7.3 grams
- Folate: 30% of the daily value (DV)
- Manganese: 29% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 17% of the DV
- Potassium: 15% of the DV
- Copper: 15% of the DV
- Magnesium: 13% of the DV
- Zinc: 12% of the DV
- Iron: 11% of the DV
- Thiamin: 8% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 5%
- Riboflavin: 4% of the DV
- Niacin: 4% of the DV
- Pantothenic acid: 4% of the DV
- Selenium: 2% of the DV
Adzuki beans also provide good amounts of antioxidants, which are beneficial plant compounds that can protect your body against aging and diseases (, ).
However, like all beans, adzuki beans also harbor antinutrients, which reduce your body’s ability to absorb minerals from the beans.
Summary Adzuki beans are rich in protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds. Soaking, sprouting and fermenting makes it easier to absorb these nutrients.
Adzuki beans may improve your digestion and gut health.
That’s largely because beans are particularly rich in soluble fiber and resistant starch. These fibers pass through your gut undigested until they reach the colon, where they serve as food for your good gut bacteria (8, , 10).
Moreover, animal studies suggest that the high antioxidant content of the beans may reduce gut inflammation, further boosting digestion ().
Summary Adzuki beans are rich in healthy fibers and antioxidants, both of which may help improve digestion and reduce your risk of gut diseases, such as colon cancer.
Adzuki beans may also contribute to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
That’s in part because they are rich in fiber, which helps improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar spikes after meals (, , , ).
What’s more, test-tube and animal studies report that protein found in adzuki beans may block the action of intestinal alpha-glucosidases.
Alpha-glucosidases are an enzyme needed to break down complex carbs into smaller, more easily absorbable sugars. Therefore, blocking their action may reduce blood sugar spikes like some diabetes medications (20, ).
Adzuki beans are also rich in antioxidants, which experts believe may have some anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetes effects ().
Summary Rich in fiber and antioxidants, adzuki beans may help block the absorption of sugars in your gut, potentially contributing to better blood sugar levels and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
Adzuki beans are likely to help you shed excess weight.
Some evidence suggests that compounds found in adzuki beans may increase the expression of genes which decrease hunger and increase feelings of fullness ().
Test-tube and animal studies further suggest that certain compounds in adzuki bean extracts may also contribute to weight loss (, ).
In addition, beans are also rich in protein and fiber, two nutrients shown to reduce hunger and increase fullness, potentially leading to weight loss (, ).
In one six-week study, participants who consumed at least a 1/2 cup (90 grams) of legumes per day lost 6.4 additional pounds (2.9 kg) compared to those eating no legumes (27).
What’s more, a recent review of randomized controlled studies — the gold standard in nutrition research — reported that beans help reduce weight and body fat ().
Summary Adzuki beans are rich in fiber, protein and beneficial compounds which may reduce hunger, increase fullness and help you lose weight in the long-term.
Adzuki beans may boost your heart health.
Test-tube and animal studies link adzuki bean extracts to lower blood pressure, as well as lower triglyceride, total and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels — and less fat accumulation in the liver (, 29).
Human studies also consistently associate the regular consumption of legumes with lower cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of heart disease (, ).
In one small study, women given adzuki bean juice for one menstrual cycle reduced their blood triglycerides by 15.4–17.9%, compared to increased levels in the control group ().
Moreover, randomized controlled studies report that diets rich in beans may lower risk factors for heart disease, including blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides (, ).
The heart-healthy effects of legumes, including adzuki beans, may be due to their rich fiber content, as well as their antioxidants and other plant compounds ().
Summary Compounds found in adzuki beans may help lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, all of which may contribute to a healthier heart.
Adzuki beans may offer some additional benefits. The most well-researched include:
- May help reduce birth defects: Adzuki beans are rich in folate, a nutrient important during pregnancy and linked to a reduced risk of neural tube defects ().
- May fight cancer cells: Test-tube studies indicate that adzuki beans may be more effective than other beans at preventing the spread of cancer cells in the gut, breast, ovaries and bone marrow (, ).
- May help you live longer: Beans are naturally low in the amino acid methionine. Diets low in methionine may be linked to an increased lifespan (, ).
- May strengthen your bones: Frequent bean intake may help strengthen bones and reduce the risk of hip fractures (, ).
However, stronger studies are needed to confirm these benefits.
Summary Adzuki beans may provide several additional health benefits, ranging from improving bone health to helping prevent cancer cells from spreading. They are also rich in folate and may help you live longer, though more human research is needed.
Adzuki beans are a nutrient-rich addition to any diet.
One popular preparation is to boil the beans with sugar and mash them into a sweet red paste. This paste is used as a filling in several savory dishes and Asian desserts.
Adzuki beans can also be ground into a flour and used to bake a variety of goods. Moreover, they make a nice addition to soups, salads, chilis and rice dishes.
Natto is another food made from adzuki beans. This popular Japanese fermented bean dish is usually made from fermented soybeans, but some people enjoy the milder flavor of fermented adzuki beans instead.
Summary Red bean paste is the most popular food made from adzuki beans. However, adzuki beans can also be ground into a flour, used to make natto or easily incorporated into many warm or cold dishes.
Adzuki beans are very simple to prepare. Here are the main steps to follow:
- Put the beans in a strainer and rinse under cold water.
- Pick out all the deformed beans and stray particles.
- Place the beans into a large pot, cover with several inches of water and soak for eight hours.
- Drain the beans and refill the pot with at least three times more water than beans.
- Bring to a boil and simmer for 45–60 minutes, or until the beans are tender.
- Use the boiled beans immediately or refrigerate for use within 3–5 days. The beans will also hold in the freezer for up to eight months.
Adzuki beans can also be sprouted. To do so, place the soaked beans in a glass jar. Cover the mouth of your jar with a piece of cheesecloth secured with a string, rubber band or the lid band of a Mason jar.
Then, invert the jar and secure at an angle to let the water drain and the air circulate between the beans.
Rinse and drain the beans twice daily for 3–4 days, replacing the jar in the same position as before. Once the beans have sprouted, rinse them well and store them in a sealed jar in the fridge. Eat your sprouted beans within 2–3 days.
Summary Adzuki beans are easy to prepare from scratch. They can be boiled or sprouted before you add them to your dish.
They are linked to several health benefits, including weight loss, improved digestion and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
You can make them into a red bean paste, sprout them or simply boil them.
Try these beans today to up your health game.