From Mexican cuisine — tacos, burritos, etc to our very own rajma-chawal, red kidney beans are used extensively all over the globe. They are called ‘kidney beans’ due to their shape which resembles the human kidney. They are one of the tastiest beans and belong to lentils food group. Red kidney beans are known as ‘rajma‘ in India and they form an important part of a vegetarian diet due to their excellent protein content. But the protein they contain is incomplete and they should always be paired with a cereal (carbohydrate) to improve their biological value, in other words improve the quality of protein.
Nutrition in rajma (Nutritive value per 100g)
- Energy – 340 kcals
- Protein – 24g
- Carbohydrates – 56g
- Fat- 1g
- Magnesium – 184 mg
Let’s have a look at the health benefits of red kidney beans:
Red kidney beans fall in the category of low glycemic index foods and they do not spike the blood glucose levels post meal in diabetics. In other words, they raise the blood glucose levels very slowly. Also, they contain good quality carbohydrates and lean protein which makes them a healthy option. And the cherry on the cake is that they are low in fat too. Also, the two amino acids which regulate insulin levels — arginine and leucine are present abundantly in red kidney beans.
Lowers cholesterol levels
Rajma is a tremendous source of soluble fibre which helps lower cholesterol levels. Soluble fibre forms a gel when it comes in contact with the stomach contents and this binds the cholesterol and prevents its re-absorption back into the system, thus lowering blood cholesterol levels.
Nutritious red kidney beans are also a very good source of potassium and magnesium along with soluble fibre and protein which helps maintain blood pressure within normal range and protects the over-all heart health. Potassium and magnesium dilate the blood vessels and arteries thus assuring smooth blood flow.
Helps lose weight
These fibre-rich beans when consumed, occupy a lot of space in the stomach thus providing a feeling of fullness for a longer period of time and they are low in fat too. This makes it an appropriate pre-workout option as it will provide sustained energy throughout.
Strengthens the immune system
The health benefits of rajma are not just limited to its fibre and protein content as it is full of antioxidants too. These antioxidants boost our immune system and protect it from the harmful effects of free radicals by scavenging them and limiting the damage. Antioxidants are also believed to have anti-ageing properties.
Combine rajma with vegetables in the form of salads or soups to make it more nutritious. Eating red kidney beans every day can become boring or monotonous, here is another interesting way to incorporate it in your daily diet: Red kidney bean flour/powered beans can be added to wheat flour to make more nutritious chapattis or Indian flat bread, khakra, wraps, chilas, dosas, pancakes, etc.