The winged bean is a tropical legume from the south and southeast Asia, often cultivated for its health benefits. Wing beans are mainly grown for their nutritious beans, roots, leaves, and shoots.
They are an excellent source of protein, fiber, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and other phytochemicals essential for good health.
Besides, they are low in calories, making them ideal for maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight.
Keep reading to learn more about the health benefits of this legume and how you can incorporate it into your diet. 11
See also Vegan Foods Rich in Calcium and 8 Reasons Why You Should Start eating Fava Beans.
What Are Winged Beans?
The winged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus) is also known as cigarillas, goa bean, manila bean, princess bean, dragon bean, winged pea, asparagus pea, or four-angled bean.
It’s a unique legume native to Papua New Guinea and South East Asia. It’s grown in tropical regions of Africa and hot, humid, equatorial regions of South and Southeast Asia.
The plant is famous for its serrated four wings and can grow up to 15-20 cm long.
The beans are sweet and have a crunchy texture, and the seeds can be dried and used as a popular ingredient in cooking. They, however, should be cooked long enough ( about 3 hours) to help destroy the antinutrients in them (trypsin inhibitors and hemagglutinins)
Nearly every part of the plant is edible, including flowers, leaves, roots, and pods. The pod is, however, the most eaten part and can be consumed even when raw and unripe. Flowers are common for coloring pastry and rice, while young leaves can be used as a leaf vegetable, similar to how you would eat spinach.
Nonetheless, each part is nutritious, containing vitamins A, and C, iron, protein, and calcium, among others.
This plant can also be used as an animal feed.
13 Benefits of Winged Beans
1. Boosts immunity
Winged beans are high in vitamin C and vitamin A, which are both essential for boosting the immune system and helping the body fight diseases.
The antioxidant properties of vitamin C help fight free radicals that can otherwise damage the cells and cause disease. It also stimulates the activity of white blood cells, which are part of the body’s defense system.
On the other hand, Vitamin A protects the mucous lining in the body, thus preventing the entry of any disease-causing pathogens.
It also fights inflammation, another crucial role in maintaining a strong and healthy immune system.
Winged beans are also a good source of B vitamins which can support a healthy immune system by maintaining healthy cells.
2. Promotes healthy eyes
Besides boosting the immune system, the vitamin A in winged beans can promote healthy eyes and vision. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, vitamin A is important for the production of certain pigments that help your cornea see the full spectrum of light.
Low vitamin A stops the production of these pigments leading to vision problems, including night blindness.
Vitamin A also helps moisturize your cornea, keeping it hydrated and preventing injury.
Additionally, winged beans are one of the best sources of vitamin B1 or thiamine, which has been shown to promote eye health and prevent various eye problems, including glaucoma and cataracts.
Thiamine also helps grow and heal muscles and nerves in the eye, which is responsible for sending signals to the brain, helping you maintain proper coordination between your eyes and the brain.
3. Helps with digestion
Fiber is one of the primary nutrients in winged beans, and it helps promote regular bowel movements and can prevent constipation. In addition, they are rich in prebiotic fiber, which helps nourish the beneficial bacteria in the gut and support a healthy digestive system.
Fiber can also help lower cholesterol by binding to cholesterol particles in the small intestine and preventing it from being absorbed into the bloodstream.
4. Builds muscle
Building some muscles is good not just for athletes but just about anyone looking to improve their health. Building muscles can help manage blood sugar, build strength and stamina, improve joint stability and strength, and improve balance and coordination.
One way to boost muscle growth is to eat foods high in protein like winged beans.
Consuming adequate amounts of protein is also essential for muscle growth and recovery, especially for people who engage in regular physical activity or strength training.
5. Boosts hemoglobin levels
Winged beans are rich in iron which is essential for the formation of hemoglobin.
Hemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells that helps carry oxygen from the lungs to every part of the body as well as transport carbon dioxide from the body to the lungs.
6. Improves skin elasticity
The vitamin C in winged beans is essential for maintaining healthy and good-looking skin. Vitamin C stimulates collagen production, a key protein in the skin. Collagen provides structure and strength to your skin. It also rejuvenates the skin by promoting hydration, improving elasticity, and preventing premature signs of aging.
Winged beans are also a good source of vitamin A, another antioxidant that can protect the skin from free radical damage and reduce the appearance of sagging skin, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation.
7. Beneficial during pregnancy
The beans possess adequate amounts of folic acid, essential for pregnant mothers. The nutrient facilitates the healthy development of the fetus and prevents tube defects. Furthermore, iron is crucial during childbirth since it reduces the chances of maternal blood loss and low birth weight.
8. Boosts energy levels
This legume boosts energy levels since it contains nutrients such as Phosphorus and sugars such as fructose and lactose. Generally, Phosphorus promotes the absorption and regulation of B vitamins, which facilitates the production of ATP, a form of energy needed in the cells.
9. Promotes weight loss
As mentioned earlier, winged beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber. These nutrients can boost your weight loss efforts in various ways, including:
Protein reduces appetite, making you eat a few calories. Also, protein increases metabolism, which increases the number of calories you burn. This is because your body burns more calories when you eat protein, as it needs mor energy to digest than when you eat any other food.
Additionally, protein helps to build and maintain muscle mass, which is necessary for burning calories and fat. Conversely, fiber helps keep you full and satisfied after eating, making you less likely to overeat.
10. Promotes bone health
Winged beans are an excellent source of calcium, the main mineral found in bones and teeth. They also contain Phosphorus, which helps the body to use calcium and build strong bones.
Generally, eating a diet that includes winged beans can help to promote bone health and prevent osteoporosis.
11. Prevents diabetes
Diabetes is a condition that results in too much sugar in the blood. If not controlled, this sugar can damage your organs, including kidneys and eyes and increase the risk for other complications.
Fiber, calcium, and vitamins, such as vitamin D, contained in winged beans help to lower the chances of diabetes by keeping glucose metabolism in the body in check. Furthermore, these nutrients assist the pancreas to optimally produce and distribute insulin, which helps regulate blood sugar levels leading to a balance of sugar in the blood, thus preventing diabetes.
12. Prevents DNA damage
Typically, the beans are rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals, which aid in protecting against DNA damage. One study found that legumes such as beans prevented DNA damage associated with UV radiation.
13. Boosts nutrient deficiency
Loaded with nutrients, as mentioned above, winged beans can be categorized as a natural source of essential nutrients. As such, regular consumption of these beans can boost various deficiencies in your diet. Notably, the legume is filled with essential vitamins like vitamins A, C, and D and B vitamins and minerals such as copper, Phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, manganese, and iron.
14. They can lower blood pressure.
Winged beans are rich in potassium, an essential mineral in lowering blood pressure. It helps balance sodium levels in the blood, which, if too high, will raise your blood pressure. Potassium also helps ease tension within the arterial walls causing blood pressure to drop.
Various studies have also shown that increased dietary potassium intake can improve blood pressure in people with hypertension.
Winged Beans Recipes
If you’re looking for some new and interesting recipes to try with winged beans, here are a few of m favorites:
Winged Bean Curry
Winged bean curry is a common dish in South Asian countries where winged beans are common. Besides, they have a slightly sweet flavor that pairs well with other ingredients. The recipe is also easy to make. You can try mine below
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of grated ginger
- 1 medium red onion (diced)
- Minced garlic (2 cloves)
- A teaspoon of ground cumin
- A teaspoon of ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- Half a teaspoon of turmeric powder
- 2 cups of diced tomatoes
- 2 cups of chopped winged beans or a can of cooked winged beans (if using canned)drained and rinsed
- 3/4 cup of water or plant milk like coconut milk for a richer curry
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a saucepan or a large pot, add in the onions and cook for 3-5 minutes until softened.
- Stir in the garlic, ginger, chili flakes, cumin, coriander, and turmeric powder, and cook for 1 minute longer.
- Add the tomatoes and simmer for five minutes until they are cooked through.
- Pour the water or coconut milk and cover it to continue simmering for another seven minutes.
- Serve it on rice, and enjoy!
Winged bean soup
This soup is hearty and filling yet light and refreshing and can be used as a starter or in a main course. Besides, it’s an easy and nutritious way to enjoy your winged beans, especially when you have leftovers.
To make this soup, you’ll need the basic ingredients like chopped winged beans, onion, vegetable broth or water, olive oil, and some salt and pepper to taste. You may also want to include additional vegetables of your choice, like carrots, potatoes, and celery.
Cook the onions in a saucepan until they are slightly browned, then add the other vegetables. Stir and add in the vegetable broth. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and let the soup simmer for about 30 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and serve while hot. You can also reheat it later
Baked Winged Beans
Baking is another easy way to enjoy these goodies. Simply preheat your oven to 375 degrees F
Chop the winged beans into medium sizes and toss with olive oil, salt, and some pepper flakes, and bake for 20-30 minutes until slightly browned.
The results will be crispy and flavorful beans that you can easily add to any meal, including salads. For example, you can toss them with greens, diced fruit, and your favorite dressing for a healthy and hearty salad for lunch or dinner.
Winged Bean Salad
To make this salad, start by bringing water to a boil in a saucepan. Add a pinch of salt, then add the winged beans.
Let them cook for a minute or two, then remove them from the fire.
Strain under cold water to stop the cooking process. And place in a large bowl.
Add some chopped tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and crumbled feta cheese.
Mix lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, and garlic for the dressing, then season with salt and paper. Pour into the bowl of salad, then toss to coat everything.
Serve chilled or at room temperature. Enjoy!
Stir-Fried Winged Beans
This simple recipe is a great way to showcase the unique flavor of winged beans. Simply stir-fry the beans with some garlic and ginger, then season with soy sauce and sesame oil. Serve with rice or noodles for a complete meal.
Winged beans are a nutritious legume; unlike other legumes, each part of the plant, including seeds, leaves, shoots, and flowers, is edible.
It’s incredibly nutritious and can offer various nutrients, including protein and fiber. It’s also a good source of multiple vitamins and minerals and is low in calories.
Consumed regularly winged beans can help improve digestion, boost immunity, promote healthy skin, prevent diabetes, strengthen bones, and promote healthy skin, among others.
This legume is also easy to incorporate into the diet.
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