Have you ever eaten anasazi beans before? If you haven’t, you should strongly consider adding this cousin of the pinto bean to your diet.
The anasazi bean has a strong nutritional profile, marked by a high amount of iron per serving, as well as calcium, potassium and more. Anasazi beans also contain lectins, which researchers are finding potentially have anti-tumor, immunomodulatory, antifungal, antibacterial and even anti-HIV abilities.
Oh, and that’s not all. Anasazi beans are also cancer-fighting foods that simultaneously help fight diabetes naturally. So while anasazi is actually a Navajo word that means ancient ones or ancient enemies, but this bean should definitely be your friend when it comes to your health.
Anasazi beans have been cultivated throughout generations of Southwestern Native American tribes in the U.S. and have also been harvested in the wild. Today these beans are commonly used in many Latin American and Southwestern cooking.
The Anasazi bean is very visually appealing with its burgundy and white colored speckles — they almost look like they’ve been splatter painted. This type of bean, which turns pink once cooked, tends to be sweeter and milder than other beans. They’re used in many refried bean recipes and other baked bean recipes.
These beans are packed with the typical healthy bean profile of protein, starches and fiber, as well as potassium and calcium. In fact, this cousin of the pinto bean, while having the same amount of fiber, actually has around a quarter less of the gas-causing complex carbohydrates of other beans and cooks in a third of the time.
Anasazi beans, or Phaseolus vulgaris cv., are harder to find than other beans, but their nutritional benefits are just as impressive. A half cup of raw Anasazi beans contains about: (7)
The steady and slow source of glucose provided by the mix of carbohydrates, fiber and protein in Anasazi beans is great for diabetics. Studies have shown that a specific carbohydrate-binding protein in anasazi beans called lectin is a natural glucose-binder that is excellent for normal blood sugar management. (1)
While many types of lectins cause negative reactions in the body, there are also health-promoting lectins that can decrease incidence of certain diseases. Additionally, the body uses lectins to achieve many basic functions, including cell-to-cell adherence, inflammatory modulation and programmed cell death. Some lectins are antinutrients and toxic, but anasazi beans are a significant source of non-toxic lectin. (2)
Anasazi beans have antimutagenic and antiproliferative compounds that help decrease the risk of cancer as well as reduce of the spread of cancer. More specifically, when three leukemia patients were given the lectin extract from the anasazi bean during research, it was revealed that the protein compound in fact killed the leukemic cells in the patients’ blood that had become relapsed or drug-resistant. (3)
The antioxidant capacity of the anasazi bean can be an important additive in your diet for heart health. The Phaseolus family of anasazi beans is a highly rich source of bioactive compounds as well as enzymes that reduce cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (what enables fats to be carried in the bloodstream), which benefits your cardiovascular system. (4)
These heirloom beans contain lectin strands that have a strong ability to fight against certain autoimmune diseases. In a study published in the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology, the lectin in anasazi beans was shown to have potent anti-HIV properties.
Scientists showed that the Anasazi bean lectin inhibited HIV-1 reverse transcriptase. This is highly significant since without reverse transcriptase, HIV can’t become incorporated into the host cell and can’t reproduce. (5)
One to two servings a day of anasazi beans can help toward reducing bodily inflammation, which triggers pretty much every kind of disease. Several studies have found that people who eat diets high in fiber have lower C-reactive protein (CRP) levels in their blood. CRP is the marker of inflammation that’s been linked to diseases like diabetes, heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
High-fiber foods like beans can also decrease inflammation by lowering your body weight and feeding beneficial bacteria living in your gut, which then releases substances in your body that promote lower levels of inflammation. (6)
Anasazi beans are very high in fiber, which means that their consumption can help to lower CRP levels, increase beneficial bacteria, decrease body weight and, in turn, decrease overall inflammation in your body.
How do anasazi beans stack up against other beans? Let’s take a look at how they compare to black beans.
Anasazi beans are best when purchased in the dried state and out of the bulk section in your local health food store, or at a reputable dealer online. You can also find them at the farmers market depending on where you live.
Check for beans that are shiny and firm with even coloring, which shows recent harvesting. You must soak them overnight before cooking the next day. They should also be picked through to sort out any debris or shriveled beans.
Anasazi beans are great because they take much less time to cook than other beans. You can quick soak them by pouring boiling water over them and letting them sit for an hour, or soak them in cold water overnight.
Once soaked, anasazi beans only need to be brought to a boil and then simmered in a covered pot for roughly 10 minutes to an hour depending on the recipe and preferred texture. They have a wonderful sweet meatiness to them that lends perfectly to stews and baking. They can also be cooked in hot water and seasoned. Anasazi beans can be used as a replacement bean in any dish calling for kidney or pinto beans.
Store the dried beans in an airtight container in a dark place. They will last indefinitely, but it’s best to consume within six months as they begin to fade in taste and start losing moisture. The fresher they are, the better and creamier they taste.
Anasazi beans are very versatile. Many of my recipes are just as tasty (or maybe even tastier?!) if you substitute Anasazi beans as the main bean in any of the following recipes:
You can also try these:
Anasazi beans are a great natural food that can have powerful, positive effects on your body’s health. As with all beans, they do have the potential to cause mild side effects like migraines due to tannins and intestinal gas.
However, this unique heirloom bean actually contains much less headache- and gas-producing compounds when compared to other beans.
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